COSTA MESA, Calif. – Unlimited data plans are the magic elixir for wireless network quality, while “bring your own device” promotions are having the opposite effect, according to the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Wireless Network
Quality Performance Study –Volume 1. The study finds that customers with unlimited data plans experience a lower incidence of overall network problems, data problems, messaging problems and calling problems than those with data allowances, but customers who bring their old devices to a new plan experience a higher incidence of network quality problems than those that purchase phones from their carrier.
“Bring your own device, or BYOD, promotions that allow wireless customers to bring their existing device with them when they switch carriers have become a major trend as upgrade cycles lengthen, but they are having a negative effect on customer perception of network quality,” said Peter Cunningham, Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Practice Lead at J.D. Power. “Meanwhile, unlimited data plans continue to be associated with higher network quality for the second straight year, underscoring the huge importance wireless customers have placed on unlimited data usage.”
Following are some of the key findings of the study:
- Unlimited data continues to improve customer perception of quality: Unlimited data plan customers experience an average of 11 overall network quality problems per 100 connections (PP100) vs. an average of 13 PP100 among customers with data allowances. They also experience a lower incidence of data problems (15 PP100 vs. 17PP100).
- BYOD customers experience higher incidence of network quality problems: Overall network quality for customers who brought their own device is 12 PP100 vs. 11 PP100 for those who paid their carrier in full or in installments for a device. This difference in overall network quality is driven by gaps in calling quality (14 PP100 among those who brought their own device vs. 13 PP100 among those who purchased a device from their carrier) and data quality (17 PP100 vs. 15 PP100).
- Verizon Wireless continues network quality reign: Verizon Wireless has notched their third consecutive time performing highest in all regions (note: tie with U.S. Cellular in North Central). Overall network quality for Verizon Wireless across all regions is 9 PP100 vs. an average of 11 PP100.
- Phone age not really a factor: The average age of a phone brought to a carrier is 19 months vs. 14 months for phones that were purchased through the carrier. However, network quality does not necessarily decline with phone age. Phones less than a year and a half old are associated with 12 PP100 vs. 10 PP100 among phones 18 months or older, suggesting that some quality issues may be caused by network optimization issues and not the age of the phone.
- Quality steady: On a national basis, customers experience an average of 11 overall network quality PP100, which is stable from the 2017 Vol. 2 Study. Incidences of calling problems (13 PP100), messaging problems (5 PP100), and data problems (16 PP100) have also remained stable.
- Network quality directly linked to customer loyalty: The percentage of customers who say they “definitely will not” switch carriers in the next 12 months is 22% among those who experience 12 or more PP100; 31% among those who experience 8 PP100 to 12 PP100; 35% among those who experience 4 PP100 to 8 PP100; and 46% among those who experience fewer than 4 PP100.
Verizon Wireless ranks highest in all six regions covered in the study, with better PP100 scores than the regional averages in call quality, messaging quality and data quality. U.S. Cellular ranks highest in a tie with Verizon Wireless in the North Central region.
The 2018 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study—Volume 1 is based on responses from 38,595 wireless customers. Carrier performance is examined in six geographic regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, North Central, Southwest and West. In addition to evaluating the network quality experienced by customers with wireless phones, the study also measures the network performance of tablets and mobile broadband devices. The study was fielded from July through December 2017.
For more information about the U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance Study, visit http://www.jdpower.com/resource/jd-power-wireless-network-quality-performance-study.