Bright House Networks ranked highest in the South and Verizon Communications was tops in the East on the 2009 J.D. Power and Associates Internet service provider residential consumer satisfaction survey, which found significant improvements across the category compared with last year.
Overall, customer satisfaction with broadband Internet service providers increased to 639 on a 1,000-point scale, up 22 points from 2008, primarily due to improvements in performance and reliability, according to the research firm. J.D. Power's recent survey of TV service satisfaction found a marked year-over-year increase in that category, as well.
In the residential Internet services category, customer satisfaction this year was particularly higher on performance and reliability. The 687 average in 2009 was a 43-point increase from 644 in 2008. J.D. Power said factors contributing to the improvement were a decrease in the percentage of customers who report experiencing service outages, as well as improved customer perceptions of connection speed.
In the East region, Verizon ranked highest with a score of 673, followed by Cablevision's Optimum Online (666) and Cox Communications (650).
Bright House led the South with a score of 686, followed by Insight Communications (668) and EarthLink and Verizon (666 each).
WideOpenWest won the North Central region with 723 -- netting the hat trick for its region after receiving the highest scores for TV and phone this year -- followed by Cincinnati Bell (678) and Verizon (676).
In the West, EarthLink ranked highest with 653, followed by Verizon (650) and Cox (647).
J.D. Power director of telecommunications Frank Perazzini said Internet service can be considered "the lynchpin" of bundled service offerings, serving to drive both customer loyalty and incremental sales opportunities.
Among customers who bundle services from their Internet service provider, the most popular option is a combination of video and Internet services, which is selected by about 33% of customers who bundle their services. The percentage of customers who bundle voice, video and data services has increased from 16% in 2008 to 19% in 2009, the research firm found. In addition, the proportion of customers who indicate they "probably will" or "definitely will" bundle their Internet service with other voice or video services in the next year has increased to 52% in 2009 from 43% last year.
The percentage of high-speed Internet service customers indicating loyalty to their provider increased to 32% in 2009, up two points from 2008. In addition, 66% of customers said they "definitely will" or "probably will" recommend their provider to others in 2009, an increase of four percentage points year-to-year.
Among customers who contacted their service provider to resolve a problem or question, average hold times decreased by nearly 30 seconds in 2009 compared with 2008.
J.D. Power's 2009 Internet service provider residential customer satisfaction study is based on responses from 23,997 residential customers of Internet service providers nationwide. The study was fielded in January, March and July 2009.