All marketing hype aside, Verizon customers across the United States consistently say they have fewer network problems. Performance by other tier-one providers varies by region, according to J.D. Power surveys.
In the Northeast and West regions, AT&T scores worse than all the others. In the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, North Central and Southwest regions, T-Mobile US scores the worse. Sprint is not at the top, or at the bottom, in any region.
But Sprint finished number two in the Southwest and West regions.
As big a problem as rural mobile coverage might be, most people--and the most demanding customers--live in urban areas. For that reason, the sheer volume of coverage or capacity problems will happen in urban areas.
That explains both moves to “densify” mobile networks, use of distributed antenna systems, use of small cells and moves to release new spectrum, share spectrum and make better use of unlicensed spectrum.
Customers living in urban areas experience the highest number of overall network problems, at 15 problems per 100 connections (PP100), compared to 12 PP100 among those living in rural areas and 10 PP100 among those living in suburban areas.
Customers living in urban areas experience more calling problems than those living in rural or suburban areas (19 PP100 compared to 13 PP100, respectively); messaging problems (eight PP100 compared to five PP100); and data problems (20 PP100 in urban areas, 15 PP100 in rural areas).
Urban areas have a much higher proportion of younger mobile subscribers who are heavier users.
The overall number of network quality problems is 17 PP100 among customers 18 to 34 years old compared to 10 PP100 among those 35 years and older.
J.S. Power looked at 10 problem areas, including dropped calls; calls not connected; audio issues; failed/late voicemails; lost calls; text transmission failures; late text message notifications; Web/app connection errors; slow downloads/apps; and email connection errors.