A new J.D. Power study shows that customers with access to unlimited data tend to rate their wireless networks higher in reliability and performance. The firm's recent analysis of wireless network quality and performance across areas of the United States inadvertently revealed that unlimited customers averaged 11 network incident reports per 100 connections, versus 13 issues on average for customers who were not signed up for an unlimited plan. Even users who register less than 100 connections in a 48 hour period seem to have their perception of their network's quality bolstered by having access to an unlimited data plan. On top of that, this average score beats the previous report by 2 points, showing a rise in the average network quality perception over time, across unlimited and tiered data users.
The decrease in reports of network issues is not the only perception difference between unlimited and non-unlimited users. J.D. Power found that unlimited users seemed to consistently have a better opinion of the speed of their network than others. 18 percent of unlimited customers said that their carrier's speeds were above expectations, versus only 13 percent of tiered data users. That gap is closed in users who say network speeds are on par, with 70 percent of unlimited users reporting that versus 75 percent of tiered users. The trend does not seem to carry over to those who say their network is too slow in any meaningful way, with both groups sitting at 12 percent.
Across the nation, Verizon won out in reliability, but the rankings differed a bit by region. T-Mobile only budged from the bottom of the chart in western part of the country, while Sprint and AT&T traded blows in regards to who was the second most reliable carrier. Verizon posted a score of 9 issues per 100 connections across the board, which was only matched once, by U.S. Cellular in the north central region. The average for all regions stayed between 10 and 12 issues per connection. The regional rankings not only paint a good picture of what carriers are the most and least reliable on the whole, but also of which carriers are the most stable in specific parts of the country, making the information especially valuable for consumers who are moving or who travel frequently within the United States.