Americans are spending more time texting and less time talking on their cell phones, and it may be because networks are riddled with dropped calls and audio issues, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ 2011 Wireless Network Quality Performance Study.
The study found that time spent talking on cell phones has dropped 77 minutes to 450 minutes per month from 527 in 2009. (Coincidentally, that result fits perfectly in most carriers' lowest-tier talk-time plan of 450 minutes per month.)
Instead of talking, Americans are becoming more reliant on text messages: U.S. customers send and receive an average of 39 text messages during an average two-day period, or almost 600 texts per month. A Nielsen study last year found that teenagers are the heaviest SMS users, exchanging an average of 3339 texts per month, or six messages per waking hour.
One of the most significant reasons we're not using our cell phones as phones anymore is that even if we wanted to, dropped calls or poor call reception are highly likely, whereas data communication is more reliable. J.D. Power found that problems associated with calling average 18 incidents per 100 network connections. Data-related issues happen about 16 times per 100 connections, and text messaging issues occur about 5 times per 100 connections.
On average, smartphones have more problems than featureless phones do, encountering 14 problems per 100 connections versus 12 problems per 100 connections for simpler phones.
Another coincidence in light of this study is that wireless carriers are now pushing unlimited text messaging plans. AT&T, for example, recently killed its 1000-texts-per-month plan in favor of a $20-per-month unlimited text plan. And with the multitude of BlackBerry Messenger-esque chat services coming out -- including Apple's iMessage, Samsung's ChatOn, and a slew of group-messaging apps such as Google's Huddle, Skype's GroupMe, and Facebook Messenger -- it's readily apparent that talking is for fogeys, and thumbs are king.