Dropping wireless quality in the US, again


from expensive-but-mediocre department

We’ve long seen Americans pay some of the highest prices in the developed world for mobile data. But the quality of the US network doesn’t really make that a high-value equation. US 5G networks are notoriously slower than 5G networks in many other countries, and studies have shown that US video streaming over wireless also lags the rest of the world.

Last week, JD Power and Associates published a new study showing that wireless network issues in the US are on the rise, with slow load times or network errors the most common complaints:

As wireless customers continue to increase their phone and device usage, more network quality issues are being cited and the perception of network quality is decreasing. The most commonly reported issue is content loading slowly or failing to load, according to JD Power’s 2022 US Wireless Network Quality Performance StudySM—Volume 2, released today.

On the plus side, these issues are less common when 5G is present. But again, 5G in the US is much slower than overseas due to an initial shortage of critical midband spectrum. And, like 4G, it’s still not consistently available if you live in one of America’s major rural nooks and crannies.

As with most problems with US telecommunications, the problem is multifold. Poor regulatory policymaking meant that midband spectrum was not coming to market fast enough. Poor regulatory oversight meant regulators did not punish companies meaningfully for poor performance, price gouging or poor customer service. And consolidation has weakened competition, reducing pressure from the organic market to do better.

It’s usually the same story. And it’s usually blamed by policymakers caught on the hunch of US geography, or failing to give carriers enough subsidies, tax breaks or regulatory favors. And while the U.S. wireless and landline broadband segments will be the very first to try to claim that U.S. telecommunications services offer incredible value and top-notch performance, that illusion is usually shattered once you’re actually traveling on the planet.

Filed Under: Broadband, Lag, Performance, Video Streaming, Wireless


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