Cable Tops Power Phone Polls

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Residential Regional Telephone Customer Satisfaction Survey

J.D. Power and Associates

July 11

For the first time, cable systems top the rankings in each of six regions measured by the J.D. Power and Associates satisfaction survey of residential phone customers.

Two of the providers, Cablevision Systems in the mid-Atlantic region and WideOpenWest in the North Central region, finished first in their regions in their survey debuts.

Other top providers include Cox Communications, ranked best in the Northeast, Southwest and West, and Bright House Networks, named best in the Southeast.

Cox’s Western region, including clustered markets in Orange County and San Diego, Calif., was the multiple-systems operator’s first large-scale telephony launch. It’s topped this survey in its region for five years.

J.D. Power executive director of telecommunications and technology research Steve Kirkeby credits cable’s triple-play packages with introductory discounts.

Consumers want multiple products from a single provider with a single bill and “cable companies are doing a great job of achieving this with their voice, data and video packages,” he said in a prepared statement.

Bundling is on the rise. Consumers are polled on their views of the performance and reliability, customer service, billing, image, cost of service and offerings and promotions by their current provider. The study revealed 86% of cable voice-service subscribers also take data services from the same provider. That’s up from 71% a year ago.

Among traditional phone companies, 36% bundle telephony with high-speed data service, a 7% increase from last year.

Consumers are also giving more weight to promotions and offerings from their providers: the importance of that category increased 3% since 2006.

Kirkeby suggested traditional telephone providers can improve their near-term competitiveness by either lowering the price of their core product or adding elements to the bundle such as wireless service, a step some companies have already taken.

The study noted that of the 12% of consumers who “probably” or “definitely” intend to switch providers, the most frequently mentioned reasons are competitive or discounted pricing, convenience or receiving a single bill for several services.

Northeast: Cox, the second year in the lead. Scored highest in performance and reliability; billing, image and customer service.

Mid-Atlantic: Cablevision Systems, first year ranked. Scored well in all six factors contributing to satisfaction.

Southeast: Bright House Networks, second year as best. Performed well in customer service, billing, image, cost of service and offerings and promotions.

North Central: WideOpenWest, first inclusion in this rank. Highest rankings in all six satisfaction categories.

Southwest: Cox, top for the second year. Scored particularly well in all satisfaction categories.

West: Cox, top for the fifth year. Scored particularly well in billing, image, performance and reliability.

The 2007 satisfaction survey is based on responses collected from 11,911 customers nationwide who receive their local and long-distance service from a single provider. The polling was done in April and May.