Verizon Soars in J.D. Power's Latest Ranking of U.S. Carriers

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Several times each year, J.D. Power evaluates the quality of mobile networks across the United States and how Verizon's, AT&T's, Sprint's and T-Mobile's customers are responding to the service they're getting. The findings shed light on which carriers are investing the most in network performance and customer service and help mobile device users decide which provider might be best for them. The latest J.D. Power evaluation, which was released on Feb. 1, clearly illustrates Verizon's dominance between July and December 2017. It also shows that the better the customer experience, the more loyal the customer. This eWEEK slide show looks at J.D. Power's 2018 Volume 1 wireless network study and the factors that drive carrier success and customer loyalty.

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The Unlimited Data Draw

Unlimited data is a boon for customers, according to J.D. Power. Unlimited data plan customers reported just 11 network quality problems per 100 connections, the company said, while customers who are on tiered data plans reported an average of 13 problems. Data problems are also lower on unlimited plans.

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An Issue With BYOD?

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) customers might actually have a problem. According to J.D. Power, the average network woe for those who brought their own device to a carrier network was 12 percent. Those who bought a phone from the carrier had problems 11 percent of the time. There's also a clear gap in network quality and data quality, with those who have carrier-provided phones getting a better service.

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Phone Age Doesn't Matter

Phone age doesn't appear to cause more or fewer problems, according to the J.D. Power study. The company found that the average age of a phone brought to a carrier was 19 months, compared with 14 months for those who purchased a device through a carrier. Phones that are less than 18 months old suffered network problems in 12 percent of cases, compared with 10 percent in devices that are 18 months or older. J.D. Power said the problems, therefore, could be due to "network optimization issues and not the age of the phone."

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Average Customer Service Quality

Looking at the wireless industry on a national basis, J.D. Power found that the average customer experiences a network problem 11 times out of 100 connections. That's the same as during the first six months of 2017. Calling problems occurred in 13 percent of cases, and messaging woes happened in five out of 100 connections. Those were both the same as the previous period.

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Network Quality Impacts Loyalty

Keeping customers is just as important as attracting them. J.D. Power's study shows that network problems play a large role in whether or not a customer is loyal to his or her carrier. For instance, 46 percent of those who had fewer than four problems per 100 connections said that they "definitely will not" switch carriers. But among those who had 12 or more network problems, that figure drops to 22 percent.

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A Look at the Northeast

In analyzing network quality in six regions around the United States, J.D. Power found that Verizon was tops in all the regions. In the Northeast, the average Verizon customer experienced 10 network problems per 100 connections, easily topping T-Mobile at 12. Sprint and AT&T customers experienced 14 and 15 incidents, respectively.

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Mid-Atlantic Performance

Moving to the Mid-Atlantic region, J.D. Power found that the average Verizon customer had 10 incidents per 100 connections, topping the average AT&T customer, who had 11 incidents. Sprint and T-Mobile customers experienced an average of 12 incidents each.

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An Eye on the Southeast

In the Southeast region, the average Verizon customer had nine connection problems per 100 connections—far better than the 12 the average AT&T customer experienced. Sprint and T-Mobile customers also dealt with an average of 12 problems per 100 connections last year.

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What About North Central?

Verizon was once again tops in North Central, where its average incident rate per 100 connections was nine. AT&T and Sprint followed with 12 and 13 incidents, respectively. T-Mobile was at the bottom of the heap with 14 problems per 100 connections.

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Traveling West

In the Southwest, Verizon led the way with an average of 10 troublesome connections per 100, beating out T-Mobile at 11. AT&T and Sprint came in at 12 and 13 incidents, respectively. Moving to the West region, J.D. Power discovered an average of nine incidents per 100 connections at Verizon and 11 at T-Mobile. AT&T and Sprint customers experienced 13 and 14 incidents per 100 connections, respectively.

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