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JD Power study shows we’re noticing more problems with mobile networks, even with 5G

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More gaming and streaming means more problems

Image: Alex Castro / The Verge

A new study measuring mobile network performance in the US indicates an increase in network problems, with slow performance or the inability to load content cited as the most common complaints. That’s according to research firm JD Power, which attributes the dip in network quality to increased usage.

JD Power conducted the study from January to June 2022 and ranks each mobile carrier based on the number of problems per 100 connections. The results consistently show Verizon as the carrier with the least number of issues, with AT&T only beating Verizon in the Southwest and tying with the company in the Northeast. Meanwhile, T-Mobile trailed behind the two carriers across every region in the US.

Issues apparently decreased in areas where 5G is available, which tracks with a previous study conducted by JD Power from July to December 2021 that found a wider rollout of 5G helped mitigate network problems. During this time, the region averages for network problems per 100 devices hovered at nine in most areas and only climbed to 10 and 11 in the Southeast and Southwest. In this most recent study, region averages jumped to 10 throughout most of the country as well as to 11 and 12 in both the Southeast and Southwest.

“An uptick in wireless and device usage was bound to catch up to network quality,” Ian Greenblatt, the managing director at JD Power said. “While the number of problems is significantly lower when 5G is available, the most influential problems on network quality ratings continue to be streaming audio and video quality, slow loading times and calls not going through.”

Although T-Mobile had the most recorded problems in both studies, the company leads the way when it comes to 5G coverage. T-Mobile expanded its mid-band 5G spectrum years ahead of AT&T and Verizon, which still have yet to fully switch on their respective C-band networks due to an ongoing feud with the Federal Aviation Administration.