The Secret to Wireless Network Quality: An Unlimited Data Plan, According to J.D. Power Study
Fewer Network Problems among Unlimited Plan Customers; Verizon Wireless Ranks Highest in Wireless Network Quality Performance in All Six Regions
COSTA MESA, Calif.: 24 Aug. 2017 — In addition to bars, dropped calls, and other conventional measures of network performance, customer perception of wireless network quality is about access to unlimited amounts of data, according to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance StudySM—Volume 2, published today. The study finds that customers with unlimited data plans experience a lower incidence of overall network problems, data problems, messaging problems, and calling problems than those with data allowances.
“Whether a customer has unlimited data or a data allowance on their wireless plan should not really affect their overall network quality, but our data shows that—consistently—wireless customers who are not worried about data overages have a much more positive perception of their network’s quality,” said Peter Cunningham, technology, media, and telecommunications practice lead at J.D. Power. “This is a critical insight into wireless customer psychology for carriers who’ve been engaged in battle over unlimited data plans for the past several months.”
Following are some of the key findings of the study:
- Unlimited data emerges as great equalizer for wireless network quality: Customers with unlimited data plans experience an average of 11 overall network quality problems per 100 (PP100) connections vs. an average of 13 PP100 among customers with data allowances. They also have lower incidences of data problems (15 PP100 vs. 16PP100, respectively); messaging problems (5 PP100 vs. 6 PP100); and calling problems (12 PP100 vs. 15 PP100). This trend holds true among both power users (100 or more network connections in the previous 48 hours) and lighter users (fewer than 100 network connections in the previous 48 hours).
- Quality improves across the board: On a national basis, customers experience an average of 11 overall network quality PP100, a decrease of 2 PP100 from the 2017 Vol. 1 Study. Incidences of calling problems (13 PP100), messaging problems (5 PP100), and data problems (16 PP100) have decreased by 3 PP100, 2 PP100, and 1 PP100, respectively, from the Vol. 1 Study.
- Need for speed: Customers with unlimited data are impressed with data speeds, which likely contributes to their perception of fewer problems: 18% say speeds are “faster than expected” vs. 13% among those with data allowances and 70% say speeds are “as expected” vs. 75% among those with data allowances. In both groups, 12% say speeds are “slower than expected”.
- Number of unlimited data customers trending up: The number of customers with unlimited data plans has increased to 28% from 23% in the 2017 Vol. 1 Study. Among the four major carriers, Sprint has the highest percentage of unlimited data customers (59%), followed by T-Mobile (47%), AT&T (24%) and Verizon Wireless (14%).
Verizon Wireless ranks highest in all six regions covered in the study, with 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.
The 2017 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study—Volume 2 is based on responses from 35,105 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 January through June 2017.
For more information about the U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study, visit http://www.jdpower.com/resource/jd-power-wireless-network-quality-performance-study.
J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services and data and analytics. These 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. J.D. Power is a portfolio company of XIO Group, a global alternative investments and private equity firm headquartered in London, and is led by its four founders: Athene Li, Joseph Pacini, Murphy Qiao and Carsten Geyer.
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