Verizon Tops AT&T, Cablecos in Internet Customer Service

By Craig Galbraith Comments
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Verizon is the clear winner in the latest survey from J.D. Power that measures satisfaction among Internet customers.

The firm's 2013 U.S. Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study is based on responses from nearly 26,000 people around the country. Verizon scored highest in three of the four regions in the study – East, West and South. Not to be outdone, however, in the North Central region, was one of the little guys – WOW! (Wide Open West) – which was the favorite provider in that part of the country.

J.D. Power discovered that customers who need more bandwidth, and, as a result, upgrade their basic Internet service, are generally more satisfied and more loyal than those who don't. The average customer-satisfaction score is 683 (out of 1,000), but is 712 among those who have upgraded to a premium package. More than one-third (38 percent) of residential Internet customers have upgraded to a premium-speed service package.

Other study findings reveal that performance and reliability are by far the most critical factors in driving overall satisfaction and meeting customer expectations; and the average monthly bill for a premium speed package isn't much higher than that of basic Internet ($48, compared to $43).

"As streaming video grows in popularity, supporting customer demand for bandwidth and download speeds presents many challenges for the industry," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of telecommunications at J.D. Power. "Meeting these challenges increases customer satisfaction. Providing value-based bandwidth and download speed offerings are key for industry growth."

Breaking it down by region, Verizon garnered 722 points in the East, well ahead of Optimum Online (Cablevision), which came in second with 688 points. Among those ISPs measured in the study, AT&T was third, followed in order by Cox, XFINITY (Comcast), Time Warner Cable and Frontier Communications. Only Verizon and Optimum scored above the industry average in this region.

In the West, Verizon tallied 714 points. AT&T was a distant second with 689. Cox was also above the region's average of 674, scoring 687 points. Below the average line were XFINITY (Comcast) in third place, followed in order by CenturyLink, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications and Mediacom Communications (which earned the lowest score in any region – 600 points).

In the South, AT&T was closer to Verizon, with 711 points, but Big Red was still champ with 724. Bright House Networks also fared well, with 708 points. Suddenlink was fourth at 696, beating the region's average score of 690. Cox was fifth with 689, followed in order by XFINITY, Charter, Time Warner, Windstream and CenturyLink.

WOW! beat out the big guys in the North Central region, scoring 709 points. AT&T was the bridesmaid again, earning 700. XFINITY (676) was the only other service to top the regional average of 675. Cincinnati Bell was fourth, followed by Charter, Time Warner, CenturyLink and Frontier, in that order.

Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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