updated 10:55 am EST, Fri March 4, 2011
Verizon leads early 2011 call quality study
JD Power's latest call quality study has given Verizon the lead in call quality for its 13th consecutive period. The CDMA carrier had significantly better call quality in the US northeast, southeast, southwest and west. It only fell short of an unambiguous lead in the mid-Atlantic, where it was tied with AT&T, and in the north central area, where US Cellular had the fewest call problems.
Despite stereotypes, AT&T only seldomly had below-par call quality. It ranked last in the west, where its historically poor San Francisco Bay Area network dragged it down, and in the north central area, where Chicago has had trouble. Call quality in the southeast and southwest, including states like Florida and Texas, defined the average.
T-Mobile was more often below average, though this might be owed to its younger 3G network. Sprint was mixed and sometimes above or below the average.
Researchers at JD Power warned that smartphones may have been reducing call quality overall. Although it had been improving quickly for most carriers between 2003 and 2009, quality has remained flat from then on as heavy data use has kept it down. A smartphone user or a frequent texter is more likely to encounter problems with service, averaging a respective 13 and 14 problems for every 100 calls. Basic phone users encounter a fewer 11 problems but have seen their failure rate go up.
The examination ranged between July and December and notably didn't have time to cover the Verizon iPhone launch. Verizon said it had braced its network for the impact of the iPhone but might more problems with iOS joining Android and BlackBerry on its network.