Wireless Network Data Problems Increase as More Subscribers Use Web Applications

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Verizon Wireless Ranks Highest in Wireless Network Quality Performance in Five Regions; U.S. Cellular Ranks Highest in One Region

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 1 March 2012 — Overall wireless network problem incidence has increased from 2011, driven primarily by issues with data services including mobile Web and email, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study - Volume 1 released today.

Now in the 10th year, this semiannual study evaluates wireless customers' most recent usage activities in three areas that impact network performance: calling, messaging and data.  Overall network performance is based on 10 problem areas that affect the customer experience: dropped calls; calls not connected; audio issues; failed/late voice mails; 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.

The study finds that data-related issues. including mobile Web and email problems have steadily grown more prevalent since the beginning of 2011.  For example, during the first half of 2011, problem incidence for mobile Web connections, excessively slow mobile Web loading and email connection errors averaged 16 PP100.  This rate increased significantly during the Volume 1 reporting period for the 2012 study (July to December 2011).  Problem rates for other network quality areas, such as calling or text messaging, remain unchanged.

The increase in data-related problems may be attributable to shifts in where wireless customers are using their devices and in the types of services they are accessing.

"The ways and places wireless customers use their devices have changed considerably during the past several years," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates.  "For instance, in 2012, 58 percent of all wireless calls are made indoors - where wireless connections can be harder to establish and maintain - compared with only 40 percent in 2003.  In addition, the rapid expansion of smartphone usage has also changed the ways in which wireless customers use their devices, which also impacts network quality."

According to Parsons, smartphone users send high volumes of calls, text messages and emails, which strains carrier networks more than does using traditional handsets or feature phones.  Increased frequency of mobile video downloads also further exacerbates network strain.  On average, between July and December 2011, wireless customers indicate that they connected to the mobile Web or used mobile email 20 times within a 48-hour period, which translates to 300 mobile Web connections per month, on average.  This is an increase from 285 time per month, on average, during the previous six months.

"Based on varying degrees 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 Parsons.

According to Parsons, wireless network providers may realize financial benefits by providing high-performing networks.  Among customers who switch to a new carrier to obtain better network coverage, average monthly spending is $17 higher, compared with customers who switch for other reasons.

For a 15th consecutive reporting period, Verizon Wireless rands 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 regional average.  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 13th 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.

The 2012 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study - Volume 1 is based on responses from 27,438 wireless customers.  The study was fielded between July and December 2011.

For more information on customer satisfaction with wireless service, wireless retail sales, cell phone handsets, customer care, prepaid wireless service and business wireless service, please visit JDPower.com

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company providing performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions.  The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of customers 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

McGraw-Hill announced on September 12th, 2011 its intention to separate into two public companies: McGraw-Hill Financial, a leading provider of content and analytics to global financial markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, a leading education company focused on digital learning and education services worldwide.  McGraw-Hill Financial's leading brands included Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Indicies, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates.  With sales of $6.2 billion in 2011, the Corporation has approximately 23,00 employees across more that 280 offices in 40 countries.  Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/.

J.D. Power and Associates Media Contacts:

John Tews; Troy, Mich.; (248) 680-6218; media.relations@jdpa.com
Syvetril Perryman; Westlake Village, Calif.; (805) 418-8103; media.relations@jdpa.com

Media Contacts

Troy, Michigan
(248) 680-6218