Google's Project Fi beat out the big four carriers in the United States in a recent Readers' Choice survey done by PCMag. As seen in the graph below, Google Project Fi garnered a 9.1-point popularity and quality score among readers but was edged out for the top spot by Consumer Cellular by 0.1 points. PCMag readers, a crowd that's normally considered technically savvy, voted in Consumer Cellular and Project Fi as their Readers' Choices, whereas the big four carrier Sprint got 7.1 points and hit the bottom of the rankings. In fact, the big four didn't even enter the rankings until the fifth spot, where the nation's third-largest carrier, T-Mobile, tied with Cricket, a somewhat popular MVNO that uses AT&T's network, with both receiving 8.4 points.
The overall rankings seemed to favor MVNOs heavily over traditional providers, with the narrow exception of T-Mobile; the company has made an effort to be on top of the latest tech trends while maintaining its image with the Un-Carrier program and keeping prices and service in line with or better than its competition. Even so, Cricket's low prices and great service tied up that spot and barely edged it out, and Straight Talk Wireless, which uses towers from all four major carriers with compatible devices, got 8.6 points and ended up in third. US Cellular came in under T-Mobile by 0.1 points, and boasts its own network, though that network is significantly smaller than those used by the big four. Verizon and AT&T were also in the bottom four.
The ranking is said to reflect tech-savvy consumer opinion on the current state of the market and each individual carrier's efforts, billing, and image. All of this may change in short order once the commercial 5G race begins in earnest; larger carriers with deep pockets will be the driving forces behind the upcoming 5G expansion and will likely have at least some say in how MVNOs use the newly erected 5G networks and equipment. This does not necessarily mean that MVNOs will be pushed out of the equation entirely and it should be noted that Project Fi is backed by Google, a company with deeper pockets than any of the big four carriers. This means that Project Fi customers could get access to Sprint and T-Mobile's 5G networks earlier than other MVNOs on those networks, and Google could even build out some of its own solutions for 5G, though it has expressed little interest in doing so thus far.