​J.D. Power declares Verizon to be the top carrier

Who's really the best mobile carrier? J.D. Power's survey shows Verizon on top.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

When it comes to which company is the best mobile carrier, the debate, both technical and marketing, goes on and on and on. Now, J.D. Power, the global market research company, is making its call. In their new U.S. Wireless Network Quality Study, Verizon Wireless ranks highest in all six regions covered.

In this study, J.D. Power looked at call quality, data quality, and texting as reported by 36,320 wireless customers between January through June 2018. Carrier performance was examined in six regions: Mid-Atlantic, North Central, Northeast, Southeast, Southwest and West. Besides evaluating mobile phone network quality, Power also measured tablets and mobile broadband devices' network performance.

Power measured network performance in terms of network quality problems per 100 connections (PP100). While no one was close to perfect, Verizon had fewer problems, by and large, than the other mobile carriers.

Still, according to Ian Greenblatt, J.D. Power's Technology, Media & Telecom Practice Lead, "Network operators have taken notice of consumers' frustration with network quality and performance. Their efforts are showing up in study results -- a majority of consumers are noticing an improvement in network quality."

Verizon proved to have the least number of problems in all regions except for the North Central region where U.S. Cellular tied with Verizon Wireless. AT&T and T-Mobile were in the middle. Sprint, except for the Southeast, where it and AT&T tied, always came in last.

Of course, there's more than one way to measure performance. If it's all about speed for you, according to Ookla's speed tests, T-Mobile is the fastest carrier.

In the fine print, though, despite defeating Verizon in overall speeds across the country, T-Mobile was fastest in just 33 cities while Verizon won in 45. AT&T was fastest in 12 cities, while Sprint won in a mere five locations. Overall, Sprint once more found itself in last place.

On the other hand, Sprint's unlimited plans are currently the cheapest of all the major carriers. You pay your money, you take your choices.

I will also add that much depends on where you live. For example, in my hometown of Asheville, NC, Verizon is really the only show in town. Before making any decision based on generalities, make sure you find out your local specifics before signing into a mobile contract.

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