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Americans Favoring Texting Over Talking, Study Says

A study says the decline in talking and jump in texting may be because networks are riddled with audio issues.

Americans are spending more time texting and less time talking on their cellphones, 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 cellphones has dropped 77 minutes to 450 minutes per month from 527 in 2009. (Coincidentally, this fits perfectly in most networks' 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, clocking an average of 3,339 texts per month, or six messages per waking hour.

One of the most significant reasons we're not using our cellphones as cellphones anymore is because even if we wanted to, there's a high likelihood of dropped calls or poor call reception, whereas data communication is more reliable. J.D. Power found that problems associated with calling average 18 problems per 100 network connections. Comparatively, data-related issues happen about 16 times per 100 connections and text messaging issues occur about five times per 100 connections.

On average, smartphones experience more problems than featureless phones, clocking 14 problems per 100 connections versus 12 problems per 100 connections for the simpler phones.

Another coincidence from this study is that wireless carriers are pushing unlimited text message plans. AT&T, for example, recently killed its 1,000-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 the slew of group messaging apps like Google's Huddle, Skype's GroupMe, Facebook Messenger, and more -- it's readily apparent that talking is for fogeys; thumbs are king.

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