We all know how frustrating it is when we can't find a strong signal on our cell phones or when we drop calls, but just how important is a strong mobile connection to Americans? Well, according to a new survey from RootMetrics and Harris Poll, when U.S. mobile phone users are looking for a new place to live they prefer a strong cellular connection in the home over living near schools or public transportation.
In fact, more than three-quarters of respondents said a strong phone connection is very/somewhat important -- the same percentage that said living near a hospital was important to them.
Here's how some of the survey data breaks down:
- While 76% of respondents said a strong cellular connection was an important factor in finding a new home, only 60% said it was important to be near a good school district and only 42% cited nearby public transportation as being key.
- Having a strong signal ranked at the top of must-haves when moving, along with low crime rate (96%), local taxe rates (90%), and living near amenities such as restaurants and parks (84%)
- Forty-five percent of respondents said they've experienced reoccurring problems with their mobile phone strength at home.
That last bit of data is crucial. While some interruption is expected, RootMetrics' survey showed that problems with home connection caused 48% of surveyed mobile phone users to consider switching to a different carrier.
That's one reason T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS) last year launched its Personal CellSpot Wi-Fi calling router, which allows customers (with compatible devices) to tap into their home Wi-Fi signal to place calls, instead of only relying on a cellular signal.
T-Mobile is not alone in realizing the importance of strong call performance in the home. Sprint (NYSE:S) added Wi-Fi calling to Android devices more than a year ago, and AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) have said they'll launch Wi-Fi calling as well, with AT&T saying it's coming this year. Most recently, Google's new wireless service, Project Fi, uses Wi-Fi calling when available and switches users back and forth between cellular and Wi-Fi connections for the best signal.
But AT&T and Verizon feel less pressure to boost at-home signals than their competitors. The carriers have more low-band spectrum that provides them with stronger call signal quality in most areas. According to Fierce Wireless, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said last year that "We built our voice platform so extensively [that] there was never a need for us to tell our customers, 'Oh, our network is not good enough so you need to go on Wi-Fi to complete your call.'"
And AT&T mobile and business solutions CEO Ralph de la Vega has the company doesn't have a "burning desire" for Wi-Fi calling and that other carriers are pursuing it because they have inferior networks.
The two top carriers are more confident with their wireless call signals considering they consistently top Sprint and T-Mobile in the calling category. Take a look at RootMetrics' latest call performance rankings for the nation's top four wireless carriers:
Considering Verizon and AT&T top the list for best call performance and account for the majority of phone subscribers in the U.S., it seems most Americans don't need to worry much about signal strength at home. But Sprint and T-Mobile are in a different boat. As half of U.S. phone users consider migrating to a new carrier when they experience inadequate mobile phone signal strength, the two carriers must use Wi-Fi calling to better compete with AT&T and Verizon, or purchase more low-band spectrum to shore up their signals.