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Business Wireline Rankings: Verizon, AT&T Duel, Battle Cablecos

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Telcos and cable providers love to flood our TVs with self-congratulating advertisements, but what do customers actually think of their services — you, the business customer, in particular?

J.D. Power surveyed more than 3,100 business customers to rate how satisfied they are with their wireline provider. A couple of big-name companies improved, while others took a nosedive, and another asserted its dominance.

In the gallery below, we list the top six providers and summarize three main findings from the study. We order our pages based on the satisfaction levels of SMB customers. J.D. Power also recorded the sentiments of very small businesses and large enterprises (which we also list).

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Size Matters

The study notes that very small businesses (1-19 employees) are less satisfied with their business wireline service than other business sizes. Provider scores from very small businesses averaged 729 out of 1,000 in overall satisfaction, from SMBs, it was 787; enterprises, 815.

Three categories stand out: communication, cost of service and customer service. Enterprises and SMBs averaged 5.3 and 5.9 minutes of customer hold time, respectively, while very small business customers experienced 8.9 minutes.

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Account Support

J.D. Power concluded that customers were more likely to report higher satisfaction levels if the provider assigned an account representative to them. Companies with an account representative earned an average score of 834, while those requiring callers to go through a contact center scored a 751.

As you might expect, bigger business are more likely to get a representative; 61 percent of enterprises, 41 percent of SMBs and 12 percent of very small businesses.

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Mobile Apps

The study found a correlation with satisfied customers that view their bills using text messaging or a mobile application. Website and email-using customers trailed in satisfaction, followed by users of traditional paper bills. However, only 17 percent of customers used text messaging or mobile apps for their billing.

Now, on to the rankings, from worst to first in terms as scored by SMB customers. (Enterprise and very small business rankings are listed as well ...)

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6. CenturyLink
  • Very Small Business Ranking: 6th
  • Large Enterprise Ranking: 5th
The Louisiana-based company dropped down the leaderboard this year. It fell slightly in the SMB category while dropping 30 points in its satisfaction level for very small businesses. That being said, it actually mustered a slight improvement in satisfaction for enterprises, as did most of its competitors.

CenturyLink has rarely strayed from the media spotlight this year with its pending Level 3 acquisition and recent billing fraud lawsuit.

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5. Cox
  • Very Small Business Ranking: 2nd
  • Large Enterprise Ranking: N/A
Cox is extremely competitive in the rankings for smaller companies, but dropped slightly this year. It led in the very small business category in 2016.

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4. Comcast
  • Very Small Business Ranking: 4th
  • Large Enterprise Ranking: 3rd
Comcast made serious strides in this ranking, as it sat dead last for enterprise and SMB last year.

The company recently cut a deal with Charter to prevent either company from making acquisitions or working with another mobile virtual network operator during the next year.

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3. Charter Spectrum
  • Very Small Business Ranking: 5th
  • Large Enterprise Ranking: 6th
The Connecticut-based company’s overall satisfaction stayed largely the same year over year. Charter Spectrum is the result of Charter Communications buying Time Warner Cable and Brighthouse Networks.

A recent report said that Charter turned down a massive buyout offer from Verizon.

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2. AT&T
  • Very Small Business Ranking: 3rd
  • Large Enterprise Ranking: 2nd
AT&T led the SMB category last year, and although that is no longer the case, it essentially tied for the win in the enterprise category this year.

AT&T performs consistently in other categories as well; a Vertical Systems study named it the top U.S. Ethernet carrier earlier this year.
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1. Verizon
  • Very Small Business Ranking: 1st
  • Large Enterprise Ranking: 1st
It wouldn’t be a proper telecommunications study if it didn’t show Verizon and AT&T duking it out. The New Jersey-based Verizon has traded blows with its rival in several technologies this year, particularly 5G wars. Congrats to Big Red for ranking No. 1 among all business sizes studied.

Earlier this year, Verizon outbid AT&T for Straight Path, which will help support a 5G network.


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