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J.D. Power: Wireless Call Quality Has Declined

Wireless call quality is getting worse, according to a new study. ??.reported call quality problems have increased considerably in 2010,” according to the Feb. 18 report from J.D. Power & Associates. Out of 100 calls placed, 13 experienced some problems, up from 11 six months ago. In particular, the number of reported dropped calls has increased to six per 100 calls, up from four six months ago.

The cause: Smartphone use is surging, putting strains on networks and resulting in static on lines and dropped calls.

Smartphone users, who pay carriers much more than regular phone subscribers, are actually getting poorer service. An average American pays $50 a month for wireless service, while most smartphone users’ bills are 50% to 100% higher. Yet, smartphone users “are nearly three times more likely to experience dropped calls than are traditional mobile phone customers,” according to the study.

These problems will plague an increasing number of Americans in the coming months, as wireless carriers have been implementing incentives for more customers to switch to smartphones.

But their networks are already groaning under the extra traffic. AT&T has admitted to network overload problems in New York and San Francisco. Smartphones can surf the Web and stream videos, and typically use up much more wireless network capacity than voice-centric phones.

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