J.D. Power and Associates examines network performance from a variety of viewpoints, focusing on 10 different problem areas that can affect the customer experience. These include (in order of importance):
- Dropped calls
- Calls not connected
- Audio issues
- Failed/late voicemails
- Lost cast
- Text transmission failures
- Late text message notifications
- Web connection errors
- Email connection errors
- Slow downloads
To keep things fair and accurate as possible, performance is examined in six geographic locations, including the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, North Central, Southwest, and West.
According to the study, Verizon's network has the fewest issues, beating the competition for the 16th consecutive time in the Northwest region, but also coming out ahead in four out the other five regions. In the North Central region, U.S. Cellular reigns supreme, and has been for 14 consecutive reporting periods.
The study also found that 4G LTE customers in general experience fewer problems than those wielding 3G and other 4G-enabled devices.
"It's very interesting to see the stark performance differences between the newest generation of network technology,4G LTE, and other network services that were the first offerings of 4G-marketed devices in early 2011," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. "With the network advantages of using 4G LTE technology, in terms of spectrum efficiencies and increase in data connection speeds and reliability, it's not unexpected that wireless carriers are rushing to expand and upgrade their networks to align with this latest generation of service."