So Long, Slow DSL: Satisfaction Wanes as Cable, Fiber Popularity Grow

DSL speeds just aren’t cutting it anymore. That’s the finding of a new survey from J.D. Power and Associates, whose 2012 U.S. Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study, was just released.

DSL customers face reliability issues and network speeds that are worse than expected, the report says. The study measures customer satisfaction with high-speed Internet service based on performance and reliability; cost of service; billing; offerings and promotions; and customer service.

J.D. Power says more Internet customers are turning to cable or fiber-optic ISPs because, in part, they are adding more connected devices to their home network adding to their bandwidth speed requirements.

"As customers continue to add Internet-connected products such as tablet computers and as the demand to streaming video content increases, their expectations for stability and network speed will rise," said Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications at J.D. Power and Associates. "DSL connections aren’t meeting the need for speed, as 21 percent of customers using this technology indicate their network speed is worse than they expected."

DSL customer’s satisfaction with performance and reliability got a score of 650 in the study (on a 1,000-point scale); that compares to 672 among cable-modem customers and 725 among customers utilizing fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) connections. In the past three months, DSL customers have experienced an average of 2.5 outages, compared with outages experienced by customers with cable modem (2.0) and fiber optic (1.4) connections.

Market share for DSL has declined from 30 percent to 25 percent in 2011, J.D. Power said, while cable has grown to 61 percent (from 59 percent) and fiber-optic has grown to 14 percent (from 9 percent). Among customers who have switched their ISP provider in the past year, 40 percent were DSL customers. Of these former DSL customers, 93 percent chose either a cable or fiber-optic provider.

Regionally, customers named a variety of Internet service providers as best. AT&T got the nod in the East; Bright House in the South; WOW! in the North Central region; and Cox in the West.

The study is based on responsed from more than 20,000 customers nationwide who evaluated their cable, satellite or telephone company-based provider.

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