23% Of Cellphone Calls Fall Below Minimum Quality Standards

A contributing factor to why cellphone service is so universally maligned: 23% of cellphone calls in the US and Western Europe fall below industry minimum standards for call quality, according to a new study published by Ditech. Two of the reasons for poor quality were ambient noise and acoustic echo. While these effects are caused primarily by the device the customer is using, the customer is more likely to blame their network for the problems and terminate service for another provider. This process is known in the industry as “churn,” but consumers may know it better as “revenge.”

Audit of 630 Million Live Mobile Calls Shows 39% Fall Below Industry Minimum Standard For Voice Quality [Ditech via TRAC]
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  1. B says:

    Is that why people are always shouting into their phones?

  2. Celticlady says:

    You mean the phones that these companies so HEAVILY advertise are the problem? ALL of them??

    Ok, I’m not a technical person, but if my family and I each have different phones from different companies but the same provider, and the service is lousy, it’s the phones’ fault?

    yeah, if it weren’t for ETF and that No one I know LOVES their cell service carrier, I’d switch…

  3. Parting says:

    You get what you pay for. When you buy a cheap phone, you get the reception that comes with it.

    I tried it all, the best reception I got was with Blackberry Pearl (around 500$) and Razr2 (around 500$). So reception comes with a price.

  4. Scuba Steve says:

    Tmobile prepay phone = Excellent reception.
    Iphone = Never good reception.

  5. maestrosteve says:

    @ Scuba Steve – I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you made that statement based on your experience.

    Here’s my experience. I have an iphone, it has excellent reception, and I consider myself picky. I switched from Verizon (where I also had great reception) and if the iphone reception was not good, I would have returned it within the 14 day window and went back to my Blackberry. I’ve never dropped a call with my iphone, and get reception everywhere as I travel all over the country.

    Now-Let’s talk about your Tmobile. It’s great ONLY if you are in the middle of a metropolitan city, because they have the smallest coverage area of every carrier (not my opinion, but fact). Where I am sitting right at this moment, there is no Tmobile coverage, yet my iphone reception is perfect.

    I’ll admit I don’t know anything about prepaid phones. I have credit and I can afford a real service.

    @chouchou – you are absolutely correct about the price of the phone. I’ve had the expensive Razr, and the higher end Blackberry phones as well, and they have been great. The free phones are free for a reason, they are cheap, and you get what you pay for. My friends with free phones are always saying that their service sucks, when my phone is perfect in those same areas.

  6. XianZomby says:

    I get this with AT&T: Call doesn’t complete. Dial a number and get dead silence. Dial a call and connect and only one party’s voice is being transmitted but both parties can hear.

  7. maestrosteve says:

    @xianzomby – there’s too many variables to troubleshoot your situation. Does AT&T have good coverage in your area? Does this happen all the time, or at certain times of the day? Do you have a free phone, or a higher end phone? Does this happen while you are in a moving vehicle, or when you are in one spot?

    Directed toward everyone: People should really check the coverage area of a cellular service before taking that service. In addition to that, they should ask friends and other people in their area who they have their service with and if they are happy, because coverage maps can be misleading and show coverage based on an absolutely best case scenario. Unfortunately, many people get their service based on lowest price and how many minutes they can get for free, rather than if the coverage area suits them, and then they complain that it’s someone else’s fault.

  8. Buran says:

    @Scuba Steve: My iphone is fine — this is one of those things that depends on terrain, local towers, time of day, network utilization, etc. etc. etc. Really hard to quantify.

  9. FLConsumer says:

    I’ve generally had better luck with CDMA phones than GSM phones when it comes to quirks and call quality. I personally prefer the GSM codec’s sound, but have had too many issues with one-way audio, hard hand-offs and dropped calls to stick with it. It also doesn’t appear any of the GSM phones are noise-cancelling, whereas most of the CDMA phones are (assuming they’ve done so to reduce bandwidth usage further).

    @chouchou: Price doesn’t automatically = reception. For the CDMA phones, Nokia and Motorola phones have had the best reception in my head-to-head tests. Qualcomm-chipset phones (LG,Samsung,Kyocera) don’t seem to fare as well.

  10. DoctorMD says:

    No the phone does matter more than all that. It is a radio transceiver. A crappy radio tranceiver due to crappy internal antenna and low power transmitter. They don’t bury radio towers in the ground and turn down the power to make them look pretty and lower radiation levels. They also dont do that on any radios where quality matters (handheld radios, CBs, sat phones, miliary radios) But they do for mobile phones thats why they suck.

  11. Pink Puppet says:

    @chouchou: Interestingly, the best reception I have ever had is on my crappy looking phone from Verizon which, as I’m looking at it, is so generic it doesn’t even tell me what kind it is. It was cheap, fantastically so.

    It also survives my horrific clumsiness, which is another bonus.

    Price != Quality

  12. RandoX says:

    I thought Ditech was a home mortgage company.

  13. Anonymous says:

    my cell phone works fine when i’m standing in an open field under a cell tower; anywhere else and it pretty much sucks.

  14. Chairman-Meow says:


    The reason why people tend to shout on cellphones is that unlike your old ma bell analog phone, you do not hear yourself in the receiver on cellphones. Since they do not hear themselves, they think something is wrong and talk louder thinking that will fix the issue.