Overall Wireless Network Problem Rates Differ Considerably Based on Type of Usage Activity

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Verizon Wireless Ranks Highest in Wireless Network Quality Performance in Five Regions
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 25 August 2011 - Overall network performance levels for wireless handsets differ depending on whether devices are used for voice calling, text messaging or data service, according to the J.D. Power and Associates U.S. 2011 Wireless Network Quality Performance StudySM--Volume 2 released today.
The study finds that overall network performance varies widely by the type of activity being performed on the handset. For example, there are more reported problems among wireless customers while placing calls, compared with messaging and data-related activities. Overall, problems associated with calling, such as dropped calls, initial disconnects and audio issues, average 18 PP100. This compares with a reported 16 PP100 average for data-related issues, such as Web and email connection errors and excessively slow downloads. An even lower PP100 average is reported for messaging problems (5 PP100), such as transmission failures and late text messages.
In addition, the specific types of problems experienced can vary greatly within each usage type. Among customers who report data-related issues, there are more reported problems for excessively slow downloads (19 PP100), compared with Web connection failures (11 PP100) or email failures (6 PP100). The same holds true for specific problems associated with making calls. There are more reported problems related to general audio issues, such as interference or voice distortion, compared with failed/late voice messages (8 PP100 vs. 5 PP100, respectively).
"Based on the varying degree of consistency with overall network performance, it's critical that wireless carriers continue to invest in improving both the voice quality and data connection-related issues that customers continue to experience," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates.
According to Parsons, there is a financial impact in providing a high-performing network, as spending increases by an average of $10 per customer among those who have switched from a previous carrier to obtain a better network/coverage, compared with those who leave for other reasons.
Now in its ninth year, the semiannual study has been expanded in 2011 to collect evaluations from wireless customers' most recent usage activities in three areas that impact the network performance: calling, messaging and data. Overall network performance is based on 10 problem areas that impact the customer experience: dropped calls; calls not connected; audio issues; failed/late voicemails; lost calls; text transmission failures; late text message notifications; Web connection errors; email connection errors; and slow downloads. Network performance issues are measured as problems per 100 (PP100) network connections, where a lower score reflects fewer problems and better network performance. Carrier performance is examined in six regions: Northeast; Mid-Atlantic; Southeast; North Central; Southwest; and West.
For a 14th consecutive reporting period, Verizon Wireless ranks highest in the Northeast region. Verizon Wireless achieves fewer customer-reported problems with dropped calls, initial connections, transmission failures and late text messages, compared with the regional averages. Verizon Wireless also ranks highest in the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Southwest and West regions.
In the North Central region, U.S. Cellular ranks highest for a 12th consecutive reporting period. Compared with the regional average, U.S. Cellular has fewer customer-reported problems with dropped calls, failed initial connections, audio problems, failed voice mails and lost calls.
Additional study findings include:
 
  • Wireless usage patterns continue to evolve, as fewer calls are being made or received. On average, wireless customers use 450 minutes per month, a decline of 77 minutes from 527 in 2009. Customers are using their devices more often for text messaging. The study finds that wireless customers sent/received an average of 39 text messages during an average two-day period. During the course of a month, this equals more than 500 incoming/outgoing text messages.
  • On average, smartphone customers continue to experience more problems than do traditional handset customers--14PP100 vs. 12PP100, respectively. However, the largest gaps in reported problem rates occur with both calling and data activity. In these areas, problem rates among smartphone customers average 4 PP100 higher than among traditional device customers.
  • Among the top 30 U.S. markets, average problem rates are lowest among wireless customers in the Salt Lake City market (9 PP100), and highest among wireless customers in the Sacramento market (16 PP100).
 
The 2011 Wireless Network Quality Performance Study--Volume 2 is based on responses from 22,110 wireless customers. The study was fielded between January and June 2011.
About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company providing forecasting, performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions. The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.
About The McGraw-Hill Companies
Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies is a leading global financial information and education company that helps professionals and students succeed in the Knowledge Economy. With leading brands including Standard & Poor's, McGraw-Hill Education, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates, the Corporation has approximately 21,000 employees with more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2010 were $6.2 billion. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com.
No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates. /corporate

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