Wireless Consumers Continue to Cut Wires

A new survey shows quality and performance are falling as barriers in making the decision about switching exclusively to wireless and cutting landline service. J.D. Power study ranks Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile as tops in call quality and brand image.

Americans continue to cut the wires to their landline phone service, according to a new survey by J.D. Power and Associates. The marketing information services firm says in its 2008 U.S. Wireless Contract Regional Customer Satisfaction Index that more than one-fourth of wireless phone customers have snipped their traditional landline connection and rely exclusively on wireless service.

The study also shows phone customers are more likely to ditch their landline service the younger they are and the longer they have used wireless services. Nearly 30 percent of wireless customers ages 18 to 24 report making the switch, compared with only 9 percent of subscribers 65 years or older.

Of customers who have used wireless service for three years or more, 19 percent report disconnecting from their traditional phone service while only 9 percent of customers who have used cell service for 12 months or less have cut their landlines.

According to Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates, improving levels of call quality and performance is driving the consumer move to exclusive wireless service.

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"The user experience has steadily improved for wireless customers, and the number of features and applications available for cell phones has increased considerably during the past two years, so it is not unexpected to find that many wireless subscribers are choosing to replace their landline phone entirely with wireless service," Parsons said in a statement.

The semi-annual J.D. Power study measures customer satisfaction based on six key factors that impact overall wireless carrier performance. In the most recent study, conducted from between February and June, customers ranked call quality (32 percent) as the most important factor, followed by brand image (17 percent), cost of service (14 percent), service plan options (14 percent), billing (12 percent) and customer service (11 percent).

Carriers are ranked across six regions in the United States: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, North Central, Southwest and West. Verizon Wireless ranks highest in five regions--Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, North Central and West--and performs particularly well regarding call quality and brand image in each region. T-Mobile ranks highest in the Southwest region, performing particularly well in cost of service, service plan options, billing and customer service.