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Dropped calls declining in the USA

Despite an increase in wireless calling volume, the average number of initial connection problems in the USA has dropped 50% compared to 2004, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2005 Wireless Call Quality Performance Study. The study, which measures wireless call problems nationwide, finds that three out of every 100 calls includes at least one call quality problem with the initial connection — down from six out of 100 in 2004.

“It’s clear that wireless providers have made great strides in making sure calls connect on the first attempt,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. “With an increasingly competitive environment and an increase in calling volumes, carriers that offer superior network quality will improve their likelihood of attracting new customers and will retain more of their existing base. In fact, improving network quality is a big financial incentive for wireless carriers, as customers experiencing at least one call quality problem are three times more likely to say they will ‘definitely’ switch carriers in the future.”

The typical wireless customer in America talks 418 minutes (6.9 hours) per month, on average — a 7% increase from 2004 (389 minutes or 6.5 hours). The number of calls made or received in a typical month has also increased, from an average of 77 in 2004 to 84 in 2005.

The study employs a call quality index based on seven customer-reported problem areas that impact overall carrier performance. These are (in order of importance): static/interference (39%); connection on first try (24%); voice distortion (12%); no echoes (10%); dropped/disconnected calls (9%); no immediate voice mail notification (4%); and no immediate text message notification (2%).

One issue that impacts wireless call quality is geography. Wireless customers who live in non-metro areas typically report significantly higher call quality problem rates than those who live in metro areas, particularly in dropped/disconnected calls, initial connections, static and delayed voice mail notification. Typically, coverage is more robust in high population areas due to the close proximity of cell towers.

Among the wireless carriers included in the study, Verizon Wireless ranks highest in five of the six U.S. regions included in the study (including two ties).

Study results by region are:

* Northeast Region: T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless rank highest in a tie. T-Mobile performs particularly well in the areas of initial connection and in timely text mail notification. Verizon Wireless performs well due to fewer problems experienced with dropped/disconnected calls and voice distortion.
* Mid-Atlantic Region: Verizon Wireless rank highest, with fewer reported problems in initial connection, dropped disconnected calls, static and voice distortion.
* Southeast Region: T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless rank highest in a tie. T-Mobile performs particularly well in initial connection and calls not dropped/disconnected. Verizon Wireless experiences low problem rates in initial connection and voice distortion.
* North Central Region: Verizon Wireless ranks highest among the largest group of ranked competitors, receiving the fewest reports from customers in the region of dropped/disconnected calls, static and voice distortion.
* Southwest Region: New to the region this year, Nextel ranks highest overall, with fewer reported problems with dropped/disconnected calls and static versus the regional average.
* West Region: Verizon Wireless ranks highest, with fewer problems experienced in the areas of voice distortion and dropped/disconnected calls.

The 2005 Wireless Call Quality Performance Study is based on experiences reported by 22,730 wireless users.

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