Cable Gets No High-Speed Satisfaction

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When it comes to satisfaction levels for high-speed data providers, cable entries don’t rank so highly, according to the latest study by J.D. Power and Associates.

EathLink in the east and south, Qwest in the west and Verizon Communications in the north central sit atop the rankings in the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Internet Service Provider Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.

Cablevision Systems Corp in the east and Road Runner in the south are the only cable-backed Internet service providers to crack the top three-rated companies in the survey.

Now in its 10th year, the study, based on responses from 16,000 residential customers, measures customer satisfaction with high-speed and dial-up Internet service providers based on seven factors: performance and reliability; image; cost of service; offerings and promotions; billing; customer service/technical support; and e-mail services. It was fielded during July.

Earlier this year, AT&T and Verizon led the way against Comcast, Time Warner Cable and other cable rivals in a J.D. Power study charting satisfaction levels for business customers using high-speed data services.

According to the residential study, Earthlink, registering well with customers in the image, cost of service, billing and e-mail services considerations, topped the east region with a score of 715 on a 1000 point scale, followed by Cablevision’s Optimum online at 710 and Verizon at 701.

In the south, EarthLink set the pace with a score of 742, scoring well in performance and reliability, cost of service, image, e-mail services, and offerings and promotions. Time Warner Cable’s Road Runner service, via distribution on Bright House Networks, was second with 732, while Verizon ranked third at 730.

Out west, Qwest took top survey billing with a 697, a score reflecting strong performance and reliability, and cost of service measures. Verizon (696) and EarthLink (693) followed in the region.

In the north central region, Verizon earned J.D. Power’s top mark overall with a 746, rating strongly in performance and reliability, image, billing, and offerings and promotions considerations. WideOpenWest and EarthLink were next at 730 and 720, respectively.

While high-speed Internet service continues to attract new subscribers, the study’s satisfaction measures suggest that service providers are not making large strides in forging loyal customer bases.

The study found that 42% of high-speed customers were loyal to their ISP, compared to a 51% loyalty rate among dial-up subscribers. Overall satisfaction was also higher among dial-up subscribers than high-speed subscribers, increasing 13 points from 2006 to 709 on in 2007. On the flip side, customer satisfaction among high-speed customers fell by a like amount from 2006 to 680 in 2007.

“Although high-speed subscriptions continue to increase annually—to 65% of the market in 2007—more than one-third (35%) of Internet service subscribers still use a dial-up service,” said Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications at J.D. Power and Associates in a statement. “The cost of high-speed Internet is up nearly $2 per month since 2006, averaging $44.09 in 2007, yet dial-up service costs have dipped $0.12, averaging $17.81.

“As long as high-speed Internet prices continue to rise and dial-up providers offer a viable level of service at a low price point, significant market opportunity will continue to exist for dial-up service,” he added.

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