Verizon Wireless dominates the nation with best call quality in most of America, according to the latest rating issued by J.D. Power and Associates.
But here in the West — what we in Orange County care about most — Verizon tied with Sprint Nextel, which is good news for the beleaguered wireless company.
J.D. Power surveyed 27,754 wireless customers and rated quality based on seven problem areas: dropped calls, static/interference, failed connection on the first try, voice distortion, echoes, no immediate voicemail notification, and no immediate text message notification.
Sprint’s customers “report fewer problems regarding echoes compared with the region average,” according to the report. (Click image to enlarge.)
It’s a big deal for Sprint, which has been losing customers faster than its competitors. Maybe it’s a sign that the company is prepping its network to get ready for its iPhone killer, the Palm Pre, which is expected to launch by June.
Sprint response is that it has invested more than $16 billion since 2006 to improve its wireline wireless networks. Interestingly, in Sprint’s press release to tout its achievement, it adds a disclaimer that the results are based on perceptions of consumers surveyed. “Your experiences may vary,” it adds.
Historically, the West region has seen a mix of companies at the top. Last year, Alltel ranked highest in the region. In 2007, Verizon tied with Qwest. The 2006 winner was T-Mobile. And in 2005, Verizon was at the top.
The West Region includes: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Nationwide, however, Verizon consistently ranked at or near the top in every region.
The local branch of Verizon adds this: The company invested $684 million last year in California to add coverage, capacity and new services. “That’s an average of nearly $1.9 million per day spent to build 230 new cell sites,” said Ken Muche, a spokesman based at its local Irvine headquarters. Since 2000, the company has invested $5.2 billion in California.
This year, J.D. Power notes that being on top may not be as big a deal as it used to be. The difference in call quality between the highest and lowest ranked companies was “particularly small.” In fact, it was a mere 5-point difference in the rating. Last year, it was up to an 8-point difference.
Both Sprint and Verizon had 14 problems per 100 calls. The region’s average was 15 problems. Lowest ranked AT&T had 19 problems per 100 calls.
Other interesting notes about the report:
J.D. Power’s conclusion: “Wireless customers are willing to pay a premium for an exceptional network,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates.
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