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J.D. Power Releases Wireless Call Quality Performance Study

  • Alltel, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless Each Make a Sound Connection with Wireless Users and Rank Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Call Quality
  • Incidence of Call Quality Problems Varies Widely Due to Differences in Major Network Technologies

Alltel ranks highest in wireless call quality in two regions and ties with T-Mobile to rank highest in a third, while Verizon Wireless leads in two regions and U.S. Cellular ranks highest in one region, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Wireless Call Quality Performance Study(SM)-Volume 1 released today.

The semi-annual study measures wireless call quality based on seven problem areas that impact overall carrier performance: dropped calls; static/interference; failed connection on the first try; voice distortion; echoes; no immediate voice mail notification; and no immediate text message notification. Call quality issues are measured as problems per 100 (PP100) calls, where a lower score reflects fewer problems and higher quality. Study results by region are:

Northeast Region: Verizon Wireless ranks highest, with fewer customer-reported problems in dropped calls, initial connections and voice distortion compared with the regional average.

Mid-Atlantic Region: Verizon Wireless ranks highest for a seventh consecutive time, with fewer customer-reported problems regarding interference/static and voice distortion compared with the regional average.

Southeast Region: Alltel ranks highest in the region, with customers reporting fewer problems than the regional average in dropped calls, initial connections and voice distortion.

North Central Region: U.S. Cellular ranks highest for a fifth consecutive time, with customers reporting fewer problems in initial connection, dropped calls, static/interference and voice distortion compared with the regional average.

Southwest Region: Alltel and T-Mobile tie to rank highest in the region. Alltel customers report fewer problems regarding dropped calls, initial connections and voice distortion. T-Mobile customers experience fewer problems with initial disconnect issues compared with the regional average.

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West Region: Alltel ranks highest for the first time in this region, with customers reporting fewer problems in initial connections and static/interference than the regional average.

The study finds that there is a lower rate of call quality problems with certain technologies used by wireless providers. In particular, Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology can potentially lessen the number of call quality problems customers experience. The average number of call quality problems reported by customers using CDMA technology is 14 PP100, while the average is 17 PP100 for wireless customers using Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) networks. Additionally, customers using iDEN network technology report an average of 23 PP100.

“CDMA technology is generally considered to be more efficient for processing wireless calls, as it requires fewer cell sites to handle call volume compared with other wireless platforms,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. “Additionally, major service providers that use the CDMA platform, such as Alltel and Verizon Wireless, typically perform better, with fewer initial disconnects, more on-time text messages, and less interference and static. However, while CDMA is certainly advantageous, this technology alone does not necessarily guarantee fewer call quality problems. Locating, operating and managing complex network systems all require expertise from both the service carriers and their supporting network vendors to optimize call quality performance.”

The study also finds that wireless customers who use third-generation (3G) enabled mobile devices that support higher data speeds experience fewer problems than customers who do not use 3G devices.

“One key benefit to using 3G technology is that carriers can greatly increase the capacity of handling voice and data transmissions with existing network equipment,” said Parsons. “For example, problems occur at a 12 percent lower rate when calls are placed or received using a 3G-enabled mobile device compared with calls made or received using earlier-generation devices.”

The 2008 Wireless Call Quality Performance Study-Volume 1 is based on responses from 24,570 wireless users. The results are from the two most recent reporting waves, conducted September through October 2007 and January 2008. For more information on customer satisfaction with wireless service, wireless retail sales, cell phone handsets, customer care, prepaid wireless service and business wireless service, please visit JDPower.com.

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Call Quality Index Rankings
Northeast Region
– Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Wireless Provider Index Score
Verizon Wireless 109
Northeast Region Average 103
T-Mobile 101
AT&T 100
Sprint Nextel 100

Call Quality Index Rankings
Mid-Atlantic Region
– Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Wireless Provider Index Score
Verizon Wireless 109
Mid-Atlantic Region Average 106
Sprint Nextel 105
T-Mobile 105
AT&T 102

Call Quality Index Rankings
Southeast Region
– Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee

Wireless Provider Index Score
Alltel 110
T-Mobile 109
Verizon Wireless 109
Southeast Region Average 106
AT&T 104
Sprint Nextel 97

Call Quality Index Rankings
North Central Region
– Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Wireless Provider Index Score
U.S. Cellular 112
Verizon Wireless 110
T-Mobile 107
North Central Region Average 107
Alltel 104
Sprint Nextel 104
AT&T 103

Call Quality Index Rankings
Southwest Region
– Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

Wireless Provider Index Score
Alltel 109
T-Mobile 109
Verizon Wireless 108
Southwest Region Average 104
AT&T 101
Sprint Nextel 100

Call Quality Index Rankings
West Region
– Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

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Wireless Provider Index Score
Alltel 109
T-Mobile 108
Verizon Wireless 107
Qwest 106
West Region Average 106
Sprint Nextel 104
AT&T 101

About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services firm operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, training and customer satisfaction. The firm’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies
Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies NYSE: MHP is a leading global information services provider meeting worldwide needs in the financial services, education and business information markets through leading brands such as Standard & Poor’s, McGraw-Hill Education, BusinessWeek and J.D. Power and Associates. The Corporation has more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2007 were $6.8 billion. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com.

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates. https://www.jdpower.com/corporate

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