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3/20/2009
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Verizon Wireless Tops Call Quality Study

Verizon had fewer complaints from its subscribers, but the difference in network quality is shrinking, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

Get ready to see more of that "Can you hear me now?" guy, as Verizon Wireless' network has been ranked the highest in a J.D. Power and Associates' wireless call quality study.

The semiannual study measures how many times users have problems with their wireless calls, including failed connections, dropped calls, static, and echoes. For the ninth consecutive reporting period, Verizon had fewer customer-reported problems than its rivals. Verizon did especially well in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southwest regions.

"Improving network quality and expanding coverage translates into potential revenue benefits for wireless carriers, as customers who report recently switching from their previous carrier as a result of poor call quality are likely to spend up to $5 more per month for their new service, compared with the industry average," said Kirk Parsons, J.D. Power and Associates' senior director of wireless services, in a statement. "Essentially, wireless customers are willing to pay a premium for an exceptional network."

But Verizon rivals AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile aren't far behind, as the report found that the difference in call quality between the networks is shrinking. Overall, the gap between the highest and lowest-ranked carrier decreased since the last study from 2008. Sprint has done a good job of reducing its voice distortion, and it tied for the top ranking in the Western region.

"As carriers continue to invest heavily in infrastructure upgrades and improvements, the differences in their network performance has truly resonated with customers," said Parsons. "The expansions in coverage will become increasingly important as carriers continue to roll out next-generation technologies."

The study said the average customer receives 98 SMS messages per month, which is an increase from the 47 text messages last year's study reported. J.D. Power and Associates said the carriers have handled this boom well by adding capacity to their networks, and the number of problems associated with SMS has remained stable.


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