Wireless customers with unlimited data plans report fewer network problems than those on tiered plans, according to fresh data from J.D. Power.
The research firm reported customers with unlimited access experience an average of 11 total network quality problems per 100 connections, whereas users with data allowances reported 13 such problems per 100 connections. Unlimited users also have lower incidences of data problems, messaging problems and calling problems, J.D. Power said.
The trend held true among both “power users” and those who didn’t consume as many data, the firm noted.
“Whether a customer has unlimited data or a data allowance on their wireless plan should not really affect their overall network quality, but our data shows that—consistently—wireless customers who are not worried about data overages have a much more positive perception of their network’s quality,” Peter Cunningham of J.D. Power said in a press release. “This is a critical insight into wireless customer psychology for carriers who’ve been engaged in battle over unlimited data plans for the past several months.”
The firm said customers with unlimited data plans “are impressed with data speeds, which likely contributes to their perception of fewer problems.” Eighteen percent of respondents said speeds were “faster than expected,” compared to the 13% of users with data allowances who said the same.
J.D. Power also said Verizon Wireless ranked highest in all six regions covered in its most recent study of the quality of U.S. wireless networks. Customers of the nation’s largest carrier reported fewer problems per 100 connections in terms of call quality, messaging quality and data quality.
The looming question, of course, is whether Verizon—or any of its rivals—can continue to meet expectations in the era of unlimited data. Verizon recently overhauled its unlimited plan in what analysts said was a clear indication that its network was struggling under the strain of increased traffic since it launched unlimited six months ago. Unlimited data has quickly become the norm in the U.S. wireless industry, so carriers will be increasingly challenged to meet demand while minimizing congestion on their networks.