U.S. Wireless Network Quality Dips, Again
from the expensive-but-mediocre dept
We’ve noted for a long while that Americans pay some of the highest prices in the developed world for mobile data. But U.S. network quality doesn’t really make that a great value equation. U.S. 5G networks are notoriously slower than 5G networks in many other countries, and studies have found U.S. video streaming over wireless also lags behind the rest of the world.
Last week, JD Power and Associates released a new study showing that US wireless network problems are on the rise, with slow loading times or network errors the most frequent complaints:
As wireless customers continue to increase their phone and device usage, more problems in network quality are being cited and the perception of network quality is declining. The most common reported problem is slow or failure to load content, according to the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Wireless Network Quality Performance StudySM—Volume 2, released today.
On the plus side, these problems are less frequent when 5G is present. But again, U.S. 5G is far slower than overseas due to an initial dearth of essential middle-band spectrum. And, like 4G, still isn’t uniformly available if you happen to live in any of America’s significant rural nooks and crannies.
As with most problems with U.S. telecom, the problem is multifold. Poor regulatory policymaking meant middle-band spectrum didn’t get to market quickly enough. Poor regulatory oversight meant regulators don’t punish companies meaningfully for poor performance, price gouging, or terrible customer service. And consolidation weakened competition, reducing organic market pressure to do better.
It’s usually the same story. And it’s usually blamed by captured policymakers on foreboding US geography, or not giving carriers enough subsidies, tax breaks, or regulatory favors. And while the U.S. wireless and fixed broadband segments will be the very first to try and claim US telecom services offer an incredible value and top-shelf performance, that illusion is generally shattered once you actually travel the planet.