Study Critical of Carriers Highlights Problem Areas


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J.D. Power has been studying wireless network coverage for 14 years, and according to The Motley Fool, the study addresses 10 problem areas in coverage: dropped calls, calls not connected, audio issues, failed/late voice mails, lost calls, text transmission failures, late text message notifications, web/app connection errors, slow downloads/apps, and email connection errors. The study gives a geographical score based on 100 connections, the lowest being the best. Six geographical regions were scored, with 43,300 wireless customers participating.

Highlights from the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study Volume 2, as reported by The Motley Fool, include:           

  • Urban areas score lowest, with 18- to 34-year-old customers experiencing 17 problems per 100 connections in this area. Subscribers 35 and older only had 10. However, according to J.D Power, millennials use their phones, and subsequently data, more.
  • Wireless customers who experience the most network problems also have the lowest tolerance for outages, dropped calls, slow data and more, with customers in urban areas having the most network problems (17 problems per 100 connections vs. 12 for people living in rural areas and 10 per 100 for those in the suburbs).   
  • If there are problems, customers living in urban areas are much quicker to leave their carrier for another. In fact, 37 percent of those who experience “overall network problems at a higher incidence than 12 per 100 connections said they ‘definitely will’ switch carriers in the next 12 months.” J.D. Power Senior Director Kirk Parsons said in a press release that carriers can work on retaining customers by “improving bandwidth efficiency, data connection speeds and reliability … carriers need to proactively expand and upgrade networks to align with the latest generation of services and devices, particularly those that rely on data speed and consistent connections, such as broadband devices.”
  • The number of those who would leave their carrier if issues arose dropped to 21 percent in rural areas and 17 percent in the suburbs.
  • Verizon beat the competition in the study overall, scoring highest in five of the six regions. The company garnered lower PP100 scores in call quality, messaging quality and data quality. U.S. Cellular won over the North Central region.
  • AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have work to do, according to the study, scoring worse than the average in all six territories. Sprint fared better in the Southwest (the average was 12) and tied for average in the West, with 13.

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