J.D. PowerThe quality of a consumer’s wireless phone service depends largely on whether the service is provided by a full-service or non-contract carrier, according to the “J.D. Power 2013 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study – Volume 2.” According to the research firm, there are fewer reported problems overall among wireless customers who use a full-service provider network.

For example, when it comes to problems associated with placing calls, messaging and data-related activities, J.D. Power found that full-service carriers  average 11 problems per 100 calls (PP100) compared to 13 PP100 among non-contract carrier customers.

Researchers also found more problems with excessively slow downloads (21 PP100) and Web connection failures (14 PP100) among non-contract customers, as compared to 16 PP100 and 10 PP100, respectively, for full-service carriers. There were differences in call quality and messaging issues, as well, though “to a lesser degree than with data speed and connection issues,” according to a J.D. Power press release.

“While it’s not unexpected to find network performance disparity between these two segments, given the robust upgrade to 4G technology in the full-service segment, there is performance disparity in the non-contract segment, even between those carriers that own their own network and those that piggyback on full-service networks,” commented Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power.

“Based on the varying degree of consistency with overall network performance, it’s critical that wireless carriers continue to invest in improving both the call quality and especially the data connection-related issues that customers continue to experience as 4G service becomes more prevalent.”

The financial impact of providing a high-performance network has to be considered, Parsons continued. Spending increased by an average of $17 per customer among those who switched carriers for better network performance and coverage compared to those who switched for other reasons.

Assessing overall network performance among wireless carriers, Verizon Wireless was the first provider in the J.D. Power report’s 11-year history to top the ranks across all six U.S. regions – the Northeast (for an 18th consecutive semi-annual reporting period), Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Southwest and West, and tying for the top spot in the North Central region with U.S. Cellular. Verizon Wireless ”achieves fewer customer-reported problems with dropped calls, initial connections, transmission failures and late text messages, compared with the regional average,” according to J.D. Power.

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