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J.D. Power finds unlimited data plans positively affect perceived network quality
- J.D. Power posted survey results centered on customer satisfaction with wireless networks.
- The results paint a clear picture that customers love unlimited data plans and their perception of network stability has not been negatively affected since unlimited data came back.
- Other results on BYOD customers and the age of smartphones are unexpected.
When T-Mobile brought back the unlimited data plan in 2016 and then went all-in with T-Mobile ONE, it saw subscriber growth skyrocket. Sprint responded quickly with its own unlimited data plan, and then AT&T followed suit. Verizon held out the longest, waiting until February of 2017 to introduce its own unlimited plan offering.
Before T-Mobile took the unlimited plunge, the prevailing word from carriers was that customers don’t want unlimited plans and that data hogs would slow down network speeds. Subscriber growth with the adoption of unlimited plans proved the first claim to be wrong, and now J.D. Power released results from a recent study of U.S. wireless networks that proves the second reason invalid, too, at least from the customers’ viewpoint.
The venerable survey company found that customers with unlimited data plans report fewer issues with network problems, data problems, messaging problems, and calling problems than subscribers with limited data plans. It also discovered that network quality as perceived by customers has remained stable since conducting similar studies. Putting these two data points together results in only one conclusion: wireless customers love their unlimited data plans, and they don’t think networks have suffered from transitioning from limited to unlimited.
This result interestingly contradicts the hard data that network congestion definitely spiked when unlimited plans were introduced. However, this J.D. Power survey is focused only on the customer experience, so even though all 4G networks in the U.S. are more heavily congested than they’ve ever been in a technical sense, most consumers haven’t noticed.
There were some other interesting results from J.D. Power’s study. For one, customers who bring their own devices to a network rather than buying a phone direct from the carrier experience higher incidences of network quality problems, even if they are on an unlimited plan. Another unexpected result is that phone age is not a factor in the customers’ perception of the network, which relates to other data about smartphone owners holding onto their devices for longer periods of time.
Other, more predictable results include Verizon being the highest quality network, and that customers who experience few network issues usually opt to stick with their current carrier, while those who experience many issues look to switch.
You can read the full J.D. Power press release here.