J.D. PowerCustomers experiencing faster and more consistent wireless network speeds spend considerably more on their wireless service plans, one of many findings contained in the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study, Volume 1.

The semiannual report, now in its 11th year, evaluates wireless customers’ most recent activities in three areas that impact network performance: calling, messaging, and data, J.D. Power explains in a press release. Carrier performance across 10 problem and six geographic areas is also examined.

“Monthly wireless spending is considerably higher among customers who experience fewer problems with slower connections speeds,” according to the report. Smartphone customers who experienced between 1 and 10 speed problems per 100 (PP 100) wireless network connections spent $11 more per month than those who experienced between 11 and 20 PP 100 – $140 vs. $129.

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Faster and more consistent connections also fostered brand loyalty, J.D. Power found: 31% of customers who experienced between 1 and 10 PP 100 “definitely will” recommend their current service provider to others compared with 24% of respondents who experienced between 11 and 20 PP 100.

“It’s very interesting to see the dramatic financial difference between wireless customers who consistently experience a fast network connection and those who experience higher problem incidence in this area, especially when using Internet-based services,” Kirk Parsons, J.D. Power and Associates’ senior director of telecom services, was quoted as saying.

“Added to this, 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.”

Getting customers to upgrade to 4G wireless devices is a key to fostering higher spending and levels of satisfaction and loyalty, Parsons added. Customer satisfaction and loyalty levels are much higher among those with 4G devices as compared to those with 3G/4G devices, such as HSPA+ and WiMAX, he noted.

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“This satisfaction gap is due to the level of problems experienced with network quality,” J.D. Power asserted. “On average, 4G LTE smartphone customers experience significantly fewer issues with data than do 3G customers (16 PP100 vs. 19 PP100, respectively). This in turn translates to higher brand loyalty.” Furthermore, 12% of 4G LTE smartphone customers indicated they are willing to switch carriers as compared to 15% among those using 3G.

Turning to wireless carrier performance, Verizon Wireless topped the ranks in the Northeastern region for the 17th consecutive reporting period, with fewer customer-reported problems in dropped calls, initial connections, transmission failures, and late text messages. Verizon Wireless also took top honors in the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Southwest, and West regions.

U.S. Cellular ranked highest in the North Central region for a 15th consecutive reporting period, with fewer than regional average customer-reported problems in dropped calls, failed initial connections, audio problems, failed voice mails, and lost calls.

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