Sprint customers generally report having fewer network problems in much of the country than their counterparts at T-Mobile and AT&T but more than Verizon customers, a report from J.D. Power and Associates said.
Unlike a crowd of network testing groups, J.D. Power judged the quality of wireless carriers’ networks by asking consumers about their experiences. Its report rated the carriers in six regions of the country based on the percentage of connections that involved a problem.
Verizon, which typically ranks high in network tests, topped J.D. Power’s survey results in five of the six regions. Its customers reported a problem an average of eight to 10 out of every 100 connections to the network, such as a call or app download.
Kirk Parsons, senior director at J.D. Power, said the average for the nation was 12 problems per 100 connections. Several years ago, it was closer to 45, he said.
Part of the scoring depended on customers’ expectations. For example, a relatively new wireless consumer might rate a given download experience as slow, while a customer who remembers those high-problem days might not, Parsons said. Gamers and others who consume lots of data might have higher expectations of a network.
In the recent survey, regional wireless carrier U.S. Cellular topped Verizon in the North Central region but did not appear in the other regions’ rankings.
Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T all trailed Verizon in each region. The difference was enough that J.D. Power rated Verizon “among the best” in five regions and “better than most” in the North Central area.
Overland Park-based Sprint had the second-best score in four regions. It rated “better than most” in the Southwest, which includes Kansas and Missouri, with an average of 11 problems per 100 connections, though still behind Verizon. It rated “about average” in the North Central, Southeast and West. Sprint rated among “the rest” in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
T-Mobile and AT&T each rated among “the rest” in five of six regions. T-Mobile was “about average” in the West, and AT&T was “about average” in the Southwest.
Sprint spokeswoman Adrienne Norton said the J.D. Power report reinforced Sprint’s contention that its network has improved significantly and that Verizon’s lead in network quality was narrow.
Sprint rated among “the rest” and had the most problems per 100 connections in each region in the August 2014 report.
Verizon has countered Sprint’s claims that its network performance is close to Verizon’s in advertisements starring Jamie Foxx.
J.D. Power’s network performance study relied on responses from 43,300 consumers. They were asked about 10 potential problems: dropped calls, calls not connected, audio issues, failed or late voice mails, lost calls, text transmission failures, late text message notifications, web or app connection errors, slow downloads or apps and email connection errors.
This report was Volume 2 of the 2016 study, which marked the 14th year J.D. Power has surveyed wireless customers.
J.D. Power said it found that urban consumers generally experience more problems per 100 connections to wireless networks than their rural counterparts.