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T-Mobile and AT&T Fail to Top any Regional Call Quality Reports

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Alltel, Sprint Nextel, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless each rank highest in wireless call quality in their respective regions, according to the latest issue of the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Wireless Call Quality Performance Study.

The semi-annual study measures wireless call quality based on seven problem areas that impact overall carrier performance: dropped calls; static/interference; failed connection on the first try; voice distortion; echoes; no immediate voice mail notification; and no immediate text message notification. Call quality issues are measured as problems per 100 (PP100) calls, where a lower score reflects fewer problems and higher quality.

Study results by region are:

Northeast Region: Verizon Wireless ranks highest for an eighth consecutive time, with fewer customer-reported problems in dropped calls, initial connections and static/interference compared with the regional average.

Mid-Atlantic Region: Verizon Wireless ranks highest for an eighth consecutive time, with fewer customer-reported problems regarding initial connections compared with the regional average.

Southeast Region: Alltel ranks highest in the region for a third consecutive time, with customers reporting fewer problems than the regional average in dropped calls and voice distortion.

North Central Region: U.S. Cellular and Alltel rank highest in a tie. Customers for U.S. Cellular - which ranks highest in the region for a sixth consecutive time - report fewer problems in dropped calls; static/interference; echoes; voice distortion; and late voice-message notifications. Alltel customers experience fewer problems with dropped calls; initial connections; static/interference; and voice distortion compared with the regional average.

Southwest Region: Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless tie to rank highest in the region. Sprint Nextel customers report fewer problems regarding initial connections. Verizon Wireless customers experience fewer problems with dropped calls; static/interference; voice distortion; and failed voice-message notifications compared with the regional average.

West Region: Verizon Wireless ranks highest in the region, with customers reporting fewer problems with dropped calls; initial connections; static/interference; echoes; and voice distortion than the regional average.

The study also finds that while only 14 percent of customers say they "definitely/probably will" switch wireless providers in the next 12 months, these customers have a particularly high rate of call-related problems. In fact, the rate of call quality problems among customers who say they "definitely will" switch has increased by 16 percent over the past year. Specifically, dropped calls are primarily driving the increase in PP100 rates. In Vol. 2 of the 2008 study, customers who say they "definitely will" switch carriers within the next year and also said they had at least one dropped call experienced an average of 22 PP100. This marks a 47 percent increase compared with the same reporting period in 2007 (15 PP100).

Additionally, among wireless subscribers who say they "definitely will" switch their current wireless provider, problem rates average 51 PP100, which is five times higher than problem rates of customers who report they "definitely will not" switch in the next 12 months (9 PP100).

"With an increasingly competitive environment and the complexity of services often used in conjunction with cell phones steadily on the rise, carriers that offer superior network quality will improve their likelihood of attracting new customers and will increase customer retention," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. "In fact, improving network quality is a beneficial financial incentive for wireless carriers, as customers who are more likely to switch due to quality issues tend to spend an average of $84 per month and make or receive 144 calls per month, while non-switchers spend $79 and make or receive 108 calls per month, on average."

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