Telecommunications carriers and service providers spend millions of dollars researching how people feel about their products. Some of the best public information about these issues comes from J.D. Power. Some good research has been released by the firm during the past couple of months. The research is interesting in isolation; taken together, it provides a general direction of the sector, which perhaps makes it more valuable.
The firm recently released "the U.S. Business Wireless Satisfaction Study." It found that "unlimited data services offer an even greater boost to customer satisfaction in the business wireless market." The firm found a huge gap between unlimited and allowance-based plans (822 versus 782 on a 1,000 point scale). The gap is about double what it is in the consumer market.
The firm found that unlimited texting and international roaming are popular and that the larger the business, the higher the satisfaction level (761, 797 and 813 out of 1,000 for very small and small/midsize businesses and large enterprises, respectively).
The study also looked at the top four carriers:
T-Mobile ranks highest in all three business segments covered in the study, scoring 849 in the large enterprise segment; 813 in the small/midsize business segment; and 805 in the very small business segment. AT&T ranks second in the enterprise segment (820); Sprint ranks second in the small/midsize business segment (800); and Verizon Wireless ranks second in the very small business segment (770).
A second study, released this week, looked at wireless router satisfaction. Again using a 1,000 point scale, the firm found that satisfaction declined from 847 last year to 833 in 2017. Satisfaction declined in all 10 categories measured, with the largest drop, 26 percent, in customer service. In general, it found that customers are loyal, that wireless routers infrequently encounter problems, that they connect most often to smartphones and that price matters.
Again, the firm named names, and ranked them:
TP-Link ranks highest in customer satisfaction with wireless routers for the first time, with a score of 839, performing particularly well in security capabilities; price; variety of features; and intuitive user interface. Belkin (835) ranks second, D-Link (834) ranks third, followed by Asus (831).
The third study looks at pay-TV attitudes. J.D. Power found that customers "are growing increasingly satisfied with over-the-top (OTT) streaming TV services compared with traditional cable TV." Overall satisfaction with streaming and, more specifically, satisfaction with performance and reliability, increased slightly. Overall satisfaction with pay-TV declined compared to last year.
The three studies obviously are unrelated. Taken together, they suggest a customer base that is getting more demanding and accustomed to technology that is customized to their needs and works well for little money.
That's especially true of the first two: Companies like the fact that there are fewer, if any, limits on how much capacity they use. The wireless router results suggest that good performance is assumed, and will be punished when it is not delivered. The third study has a more pragmatic impact: Carriers will need to engineer their networks so that the increasing amount of OTT content is delivered without the glitches and flaws that in many cases have marred performance to date.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.