Broadband Customers Are Fanatical, Fickle: Study


High-speed data customers love the product, but two-thirds will drop the provider as soon as they think they can save money with another provider, according to data released Thursday by J.D. Power & Associates.

The research firm's 2008 Internet Service Provider Residential Service Customer Satisfaction Study indicated that both cable modem and DSL digital-subscriber line use grew significantly in the past year, to the detriment of dial-up services.

Cable modem use is up to 41% from 36% in 2007 while DSL grew to 30% penetration from 27% last year. Dial-up use dropped to 25%, a decline of 10 percentage points from 2007, according to the report.

"Customers now view Internet service as a necessity—not a luxury—and they're looking for faster products capable of handling higher bandwidth," said Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications for the research firm.

But as the value and use of the product increases, loyalty decreases. This year, 30% of those interviewed said they considered themselves loyal to their provider, a drop from the 42% recorded last year. The picture is bleaker for dial-up providers: 36% are loyal, compared to 51% in 2007.

Even if consumers aren't particularly dissatisfied with their provider, they will switch to find a better deal, according to the report.

J.D. Power ranked providers regionally, and an incumbent cable operator topped the rankings in each of the four zones.

In the East region, Cablevision Systems Corp. is top ranked with a 650 score on the research outfit's 1,000-point scale. The South region winner is Bright House Network's Roadrunner service, with a 670 score (followed closely by Verizon with a 663 score). Tops in the West is Cox with a 641 score; and the North Central crown is earned by WOW!, with a score of 702, the highest on the survey.