According to a study by JD Power on wireless satisfaction, US mobile customers are reporting more problems with network quality. As customers continue to increase their phone and device usage, their perception of network quality is declining. The most common problem reported was slow loading and a total failure to load content.
The study is based on responses from 34,174 wireless customers surveyed from January through June 2022. Carrier performance was examined for mobile phones, tablets and mobile broadband devices in six US regions. The results found that Verizon Wireless ranks highest in the five regions evaluated, achieving the fewest network quality problems per 100 connections in call quality, messaging quality and data quality.
Given the significant public backlash generated by network outages from Rogers in Canada and KDDI Japan this month, this research is just the latest example of consumer frustration with their providers’ network performance. Aside from the technical issues which created the specific service shortfalls and failures across these operators, there is likely a deeper driver of this series of complaints: the increasing expectations consumers have for their mobile service.
In particular, this study demonstrates that, as mobile internet is integrated more fully into all aspects of daily life, customer frustration likewise increases when network capabilities fall short. This challenge is particularly significant in the context of the introduction of 5G in the US. Carriers have successfully branded 5G technology as a “once in a generation breakthrough” with a “seamless connection” and “unmatched speed,” yet in practice, the customer’s experience often does not live up to the promise. In fact, an Ookla study from Q3 of 2021 ranked US 5G speeds last of the 11 countries studied. The disappointed responses in the J.D. Power study, therefore, should not be surprising.
This could be a high-stakes moment for mobile operators. Consumers appear to have bought into operators’ promise of 5G technology, connecting more device types, with each accessing more data-rich applications. Now that operators have sold this model, they will have to deliver on these high expectations. As the number of internet-connected devices continues to increase, the degree of stress on mobile networks’ capacities can only escalate. With mobile internet service becoming intertwined with more aspects of daily life, the severity of the public backlash when things go wrong (or even when expectations are unmet) will likewise intensify.