Quality of service, more specifically the incidence of dropped calls, has “increased notably” in the past six months among wireless customers most likely to switch providers, according to a J.D. Power and Associates report.

Fourteen percent of customers say they “definitely will” or “probably will” switch wireless providers in the next year. It turns out that these customers have experienced a particularly high rate of call-related problems: problem rates for those in the “definitely will” category are more than 4x higher (29 PP 100– 29 problems per 100 calls) than those in the “definitely will not” category (7 PP 100).

“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,” Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates, commented in the news release.

“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.”

Other notable findings from this latest report 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.
  • PP 100 scores continue to be higher among smartphone customers than among traditional handset customers—13 PP 100 vs. 9 PP 100. 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).

Every six months, J.D. Power analysts conduct a survey and examine information to do with “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.” These they measure in terms of problems per 100 calls, or PP 100. Nationwide in geographic scope, the results are broken down across six regions.

Verizon Wireless scored highest in West, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions and tied Sprint and T-Mobile for the Southeast region. U.S. Cellular ranks highest in the North Central region, and T-Mobile ranked highest in the Southwest.

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