Press Release

Wireless Network Data Speeds Improve but Not Incidence of Data Problems, J.D. Power Finds

Verizon Wireless Ranks Highest in Wireless Network Quality Performance in All Six Regions; U.S. Cellular Ties for Highest Rank in North Central Region

COSTA MESA, Calif.: 2 March 2017 — Carriers’ recent improvements in network speed are being noted by customers, but the incidence of data problems is rising among tablet and mobile broadband devices, according to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance StudySM—Volume 1, released today.

According to the study, an increasing percentage of customers are having their expectations exceeded with regard to data speeds. Currently, 16% of customers say the data speeds on their 4G phones are “faster than expected,” up from 13% in 2015 Vol. 1. Conversely, only 14% say data speeds on their 4G phones are “slower than expected,” down from 17% in 2015 Vol. 1.

While the incidence of overall data problems has remained stable from 2015 Vol. 1, at 17 PP100 (problems per 100 connections), users have experienced a considerable increase in data problems on tablets and mobile broadband devices during this period. In the same period, the incidence of data problems on tablets has risen to 12 PP100 from 9 PP100 in 2015 Vol. 1, and mobile broadband errors increased to 14 PP100 from 10 PP100. Data problem incidence varies on a regional basis, with the highest being in the Northeast (20 PP100). The region has especially high incidences of tablet web connection errors (15 PP100 vs. 12 PP100, respectively) and tablet email connection problems (14 PP100 vs. 11 PP100). Additionally, data problem incidences are relatively high in urban areas (21 PP100) and rural areas (19 PP100) due to both connection and coverage issues experiences in both calling areas.

“Overall network reliability may be getting overlooked as carriers race to deliver faster data speeds,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director and technology, media & telecom practice leader at J.D. Power. “Speed is critical, however reducing data problems is essential for reliability. Reliability is critical for differentiating a wireless network and should be a focus for carriers as they decide how and where to make upgrades for future planned 5G rollouts, especially those in urban areas.”

Now in its 15th year, the semiannual study is based on 10 problem areas of the customer experience: dropped calls; calls not connected; audio issues; failed/late voicemails; lost calls; text transmission failures; late text message notifications; web/app connection errors; slow downloads/apps; and email connection errors. Network performance issues are measured as problems per 100 (PP100) connections, with a lower score reflecting fewer problems and higher overall performance.

Following are some other key findings of the 2017 Vol. 1 Study:

  • Volume-over-volume decline: Overall wireless network quality problem incidence is 13 PP100 in the 2017 Vol. 1 Study, up from 12 PP100 in the 2016 Vol. 2 Study, just six months ago.
  • Incidence changes: On a national basis, incidences of calling problems (16 PP100) and messaging problems (7 PP100) have increased by 2 PP100 and 1 PP100, respectively, from last volume, while incidences of data problems (17 PP100) have remained stable.
  • Data quality varies by device: On average, wireless customers experience the highest number of data quality problems when using a mobile broadband device (30 PP100), followed by a tablet (20 PP100) and phone (12 PP100).
  • Connection problems differ by device: When examining the types of data problems, email connection errors occur more frequently on tablets than on phones (11 PP100 vs. 7 PP100, respectively). In contrast, issues related to slow mobile web connections are more likely to occur on mobile broadband devices (16 PP100) than on phones or tablets (14 PP100 for each).
  • How tablet customers connect: One in five (20%) wireless customers has a tablet with a data plan from their wireless carrier and 12% use a mobile broadband device, such as an air card or hotspot.

Study Rankings

Verizon Wireless ranks highest in all six regions covered in the study, with typically lower PP100 scores than the regional averages in call quality, messaging quality and data quality. U.S. Cellular ranks highest in a tie with Verizon Wireless in the North Central region and excels in most network problem areas, especially call quality and messaging quality.

The 2017 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study—Volume 1 is based on responses from 42,922 wireless customers. Carrier performance is examined in six geographic regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, North Central, Southwest and West. In addition to evaluating the network quality experienced by customers with wireless phones, the study also measures the network performance of tablets and mobile broadband devices. The study was fielded July through December 2016.

For more information about the U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study visit

J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services and data and analytics. Those capabilities enable J.D. Power to help its clients drive customer satisfaction, growth and profitability. Established in 1968, J.D. Power is headquartered in Costa Mesa, Calif., and has offices serving North/South America, Asia Pacific and Europe.

Media Relations Contact

Geno Effler; Costa Mesa, Calif.; 714-621-6224; [email protected]

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