J.D. Power and Associates, a global marketing information services company, released its 14th study measuring customer satisfaction of broadband providers across five critical factors: price, billing, packages and promotions; and customer service. In terms of Internet speed, the study found that overall consumer's expectations are met 69%, and exceeded 17% of the time. In fact, only 14% of consumers are not pleased with their broadband speeds.
How much speed do you need?
Speed is particularly important because of the surging popularity of streaming video services such as < a href="http://broadband.about.com/b/2011/04/25/netflix-wins-subscriber-race.htm">Netflix and Hulu. In fact, a recent Sandvine report stated that almost a third of all Internet traffic during peak times are related to Netflix.
According to J.D. Power: "With streaming video continuing to grow in popularity, supporting customer demand for bandwidth and download speeds presents many challenges for the industry," said Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications at J.D. Power and Associates.
On the negative side, more customers are contacting customer service, and more of these communications are related to an outage of some sort. The percentage of customers contacting customer service grew 8% from last year, and the percentage of customers reporting an outage increased by 7%.
The study examining customer satisfaction by regions across the United States, and ranks providers with competitors in the same region. Which providers came out on top?
In the Eastern region - Verizon has a large market share in the region, and had the highest score - a 640 index rating, on a 1000 point scale. They scored particularly well in promotions and service offerings, pricing, and performance and reliability. Cox Communications came in second (635), with AT&T following in third (626).
In the Southern Region - Verizon once again ranks highest in the region (665) and performs well in two factors: performance and reliability as well as offerings and promotions. Bright House Networks' Roadrunner service follows in the rankings (658), with Cox Communications ranks third (654).
In the North Central Region - WOW! ranks highest with a score of 708, performing well in all five factors driving satisfaction. Insight Communications is next with 651, with AT&T ranking third with 642.
In the Western Region - Cox Communications ranks highest in the region with a score of 645 and did well in performance and reliability, billing and offerings and promotions. Verizon is net with 632, and Comcast Xfinity is third (619).
Earlier this year, a survey conducted by Consumer Reports demonstrated that fiber broadband users were more satisfied than their cable counterparts. The Consumer Report survey of 70,000 Verizon Fios and AT&T U-Verse users indicated that most customers of the two major broadband service providers are satisfied with their service.
According to the report:
"FiOS users were more satisfied with the service's speed than were users of cable, which received top marks for speed in our survey a year ago. And they were more satisfied with FiOS's cost than were users of DSL, which remains the least expensive type of broadband. FiOS also got higher marks for both reliability and technical support than did cable or DSL."
The survey did indicate that consumers would like more choice when evaluating broadband service providers. Choices between providers offering fiber service are often limited to only one or two providers.
As the appetite for bandwidth among consumers continues to grow with new devices and innovative applications, the expectations for a better customer experience will continue to drive the market. Just like proposed fees for debit card customers shook Bank of America, issues such as data gaps for broadband usage, currently being introduced in limited markets, will have a similar effect on the broadband industry.