Customers using 4G LTE devices experience fewer data-related problems, particularly when it comes to slow connection speeds, as compared to those using 3G and other 4G devices using older standards, such as WiMAX and HSPA+, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study—Volume 2.
Problem incidence among customers with 4G LTE devices related to excessively slow mobile Web loading came in at 15 problems per 100 (PP 100) compared with an industry average 20 PP100. Moreover, overall problem incidence related to excessively slow mobile Web loading was even higher among WiMAX and HSPA+ customers at 22 PP100 and 23 PP100, according to J.D. Power’s research.
The Westlake, California-based market research company found “no substantial differences in problem rates for other data-related issues between 4G LTE and WiMAX and HSPA+ technologies, such as Web and email connection errors.”
“It’s very interesting to see the stark performance differences between the newest generation of network technology,4G LTE, and other network services that were the first offerings of 4G-marketed devices in early 2011,” commented Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates.
“With the network advantages of using 4G LTE technology, in terms of spectrum efficiencies and increase in data connection speeds and reliability, it’s not unexpected that wireless carriers are rushing to expand and upgrade their networks to align with this latest generation of service.”
For a 16th consecutive reporting period, Verizon Wireless took top honors for fewest reported customer problems, such as dropped calls, initial connections, transmission failures and late text messages as compared to the regional average. Verizon Wireless also ranked first in the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Southwest and West regions.
U.S. Cellular ranked highest in the North Central region for a 14th consecutive reporting period. U.S. Cellular had fewer customer-reported problems with dropped calls, failed initial connections, audio problems, failed voice mails and lost calls as compared to the regional average, according to J.D. Power’s report.
Upgrading to 4G LTE network technology could translate into incrementally higher revenue for mobile telecom operators as customers not only spend more per month, but also by lowering customer churn rates, according to Parsons. At $131 per month, the average reported monthly wireless bill for 4G LTE customers is $6 higher than that for average smartphone customers, for example, J.D. Power notes.
That includes spending on additional data plan services, such as mobile hotspots, which is 35% higher for 4G LTE customers than for 3G and other 4G service customers.
In addition, the churn rate for 4G LTE customers is significantly lower than that for smartphone customers using other network technology: 11% vs. 15%, respectively.
“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,” Parsons commented.