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J.D. Power Rankings: “Verizon, Sprint Hammer AT&T in Wireless Call Quality Study”

September 11, 2010

Does AT&T have a bullseye on its chest?  Looks that way.  Here’s my own summary of JD Power’s regional graphs of the major carrier’s customer service ratings.  In the press release below (first story), you can read Power’s explanation of what the numbers mean (problems per 100 calls); the main thing to know is that the lower the score, the better (think golf, not basketball).  The carriers are listed left to right in order of number of customers they serve.

Region Verizon AT&T Sprint T-Mobile US Cell.
West 6 15 10 11 -
North East 8 17 12 23 -
Mid Atlantic 5 13 9 12 -
South East 10 16 10 10 -
North Central 11 10 11 9 8
South West 9 12 9 8 -
Average Score 8.2 13.8 10.2 12.2 -

Scores in green are first place, in red are last.  In all but one, AT&T finished last or next to last.  Verizon was the big winner, finishing tops in three of the six regions, while Sprint finished second in most areas.  For much more detail, check out the graphs at the JD Power site (linked below).

This data exemplifies why I don’t pay much attention to those “coverage” maps. :)

“With an increasingly competitive environment and the complexity of services often used in conjunction with cell phones steadily on the rise, carriers that offer superior network quality may improve their likelihood of attracting new customers and increasing customer retention.”

My hallucination is that if Power surveyed for rankings of prepaid carriers, the scores would be much worse for many of the prepaid companies, which haven’t done a good job in the customer service dept.  I’m sure we’ll see that in coming years.

Red highlights below are mine.  Don’t miss the ZDNet and PhonePlus articles below the JD Power press release.
JC

http://businesscenter.jdpower.com/news/pressrelease.aspx?ID=2010174

Incidence of Dropped Calls Increases Considerably among Customers Who Are Most Likely to Switch Wireless Providers

Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless Rank Highest in Wireless Call Quality Performance

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 9 September 2010 Among wireless customers who are most likely to switch providers, problem rates related to dropped calls have increased notably from six months ago, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Wireless Call Quality Performance StudySM—Volume 2 released today.

The semiannual study measures wireless call quality, based on seven problem areas that impact overall carrier performance: dropped calls; static/interference; failed call connection on the first try; voice distortion; echoes; no immediate voicemail notification; and no immediate text message notification. Call quality issues are measured as problems per 100 (PP100) calls, where a lower score reflects fewer problems and higher call quality. Call quality performance is examined in six regions: Northeast; Mid-Atlantic; Southeast; North Central; Southwest; and West.

The study finds that 14 percent of customers say they “definitely will” or “probably will” switch wireless providers in the next 12 months and that these customers experience a particularly high rate of call-related problems. The rate of call quality problems among customers who say they “definitely will” switch their current wireless provider is more than four times higher than problem rates among customers who say they “definitely will not” switch in the next 12 months (29 PP100 vs. 7 PP100, respectively).

Specifically, dropped calls are primarily driving the high switching rate, compared with other call quality issues. For example, problem rates average 20 PP100 among customers who say they “definitely will” switch carriers within the next year and also say they had at least one dropped call. Furthermore, the rate of dropped call problems among customers who say they “definitely will” switch has increased by 33 percent from six months ago. In comparison, among those wireless customers who experience calls that are not connected on the first try, the average problem rate is 11 PP100, up slightly from 10 PP100 six months ago.

With an increasingly competitive environment and the complexity of services often used in conjunction with cell phones steadily on the rise, carriers that offer superior network quality may improve their likelihood of attracting new customers and increasing customer retention,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. “In fact, improving network quality and, in turn, retaining the customers most likely to switch are beneficial financial incentives for wireless carriers, as customers who are more likely to switch tend to spend an average of $82 per month and make or receive 127 calls per month, while those who aren’t considering switching spend $78 and make or receive 104 calls per month, on average.”

Regional rankings are as follows:

For a 12th consecutive reporting period, Verizon Wireless ranks highest in both the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Verizon Wireless achieves fewer customer-reported problems with dropped calls, initial connections and interference, compared with the regional averages. Verizon Wireless also ranks highest in the West region and ranks highest in the Southeast region in a tie with both Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile.

In the North Central region, U.S. Cellular ranks highest for a 10th consecutive reporting period. Compared with the regional average, U.S. Cellular has fewer customer-reported problems with dropped calls, failed initial connections, interference and echoes.

In the Southwest region, T-Mobile ranks highest, due mainly to lower reported PP100 ratings in voice-centric dimensions such as interference, echoes and voice distortion, compared with the regional averages.

Wireless customers rely on their phones to do everything from providing them with driving directions to sending picture messages, as well as placing calls, so carriers must provide their customers with problem-free experiences to keep them satisfied,” said Parsons. “Wireless customers have higher expectations than ever before of their phones and the networks on which they operate.”

Additional study findings include:

  • Wireless usage patterns continue to evolve, as fewer calls are made or received and customers use their devices more often for text messaging, which increasingly is the preferred method for communication. The study finds that wireless customers receive 144 text message notifications per month—29 percent more text message notifications than reported one year ago.
  • PP100 scores continue to be higher among smartphone customers than among traditional handset customers—13PP100 vs. 9PP100. However, both rates are lower than those reported six months ago.
  • Among the top 27 U.S. markets, the PP100 score is lowest among wireless customers in the Tampa, Fla., area (5 PP100), and highest among wireless customers in Charlotte, N.C. (19 PP100).

The 2010 Wireless Call Quality Performance Study—Volume 2 is based on responses from 26,595 wireless customers. The study was fielded between January and June 2010.

_______________________________________________

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/wireless-call-quality-matters-and-thats-bad-news-for-at-t-good-for-verizon-sprint/39006

Wireless call quality matters and that’s bad news for AT&T, good for Verizon, Sprint

By Larry Dignan | September 9, 2010, 8:37am PDT

When it comes to dropped mobile calls, the wireless industry is a lot like real estate: It’s all about location.

J.D. Power measured call quality in a report released Thursday and found that AT&T lags in most regions. Verizon and Sprint were near the top of the rankings in call quality and T-Mobile connectivity was totally hit or miss depending on where you live.

According to J.D. Power, wireless customers are using their phones less for calls, but still cite dropped calls as the primary reason for switching carriers. J.D. Power rated call quality based on dropped calls, interference, failed call connection on the first try, voice distortion, echoes; no immediate voicemail notification and no immediate text message notification.

The study rated carriers based on problems per 100 calls. Like golf, a lower score is better. The more interesting data was the call quality by region. These findings should factor into your choice of wireless carriers.

Add it up and AT&T may be in trouble if it loses its exclusive on Apple’s iPhone. Simply put, the network performance just isn’t there. Meanwhile, consumers know all about AT&T’s network woes and that fact may be holding back Apple’s iPhone sales. In a research note, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster delivered the results of a survey of 258 cell phone users. Munster was out to see how the iPhone’s much publicized antenna issue affected sales and the answer was not much. However, Munster noted:

We found that for every one respondent that acknowledged the antenna issue about three complained about the iPhone not being on Verizon. In other words, the lack of an iPhone on Verizon is holding sales back by about three times more than the antenna issue.

When you handicap AT&T’s regional performance, Munster’s findings aren’t all that surprising.

_______________________________________________

http://www.phoneplusmag.com/news/2010/09/verizon-sprint-hammer-at-t-in-wireless-call-quali.aspx

Verizon, Sprint Hammer AT&T in Wireless Call Quality Study

A new study that scoured the country for top call quality found that Verizon and Sprint lead the pack, while AT&T lagged far behind.

J.D. Power ranked the big telcos in six regions, from the East Coast, right on through the Midwest to the West Coast. In all but one, AT&T finished last or next to last. Verizon was the big winner, finishing tops in three of the six regions, while Sprint finished second in most areas. T-Mobile’s ranking is all over the board, beating all of the competition in the Southwest, but finishing dead last in the Northeast.

With the advent of texting and other modes of communication via mobile device, you wouldn’t think service providers would need to take this report as seriously as they once did. But the study found that dropped calls are still the biggest reason for someone to change carriers.

The study based call quality on dropped calls, failed connections, interference and more.

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