Are You Happy With Your ISP?

Have you ever wondered if your neighbor is having a better Internet experience while you sit around cursing your connection speed? Well, now you can find out! JD Power and Associates just released its 2008 Internet Service Provider (ISP) Residential Customer Satisfaction Study based on a survey of 19,000 dial-up and high-speed Internet customers. The study divided up the country into four major regions-East, South, West and North Central-accounting for smaller, regional ISPs that compete with the national companies. The survey also separates high-speed and dial-up users and takes into account five factors: performance and reliability; cost of service; customer service; billing; and offerings and promotions. JD Power then gave each company a score based on a possible 1000 points for overall satisfaction.

So who's happy with their ISP? Well, not customers of Comcast, which ended up being one of the biggest bottom feeders this year. The company was in the news for much of 2008 over its bandwidth throttling and shaping practices and it consistently ranked in the bottom five of every major region in the country. Cox, another 2008 newsmaker, fared better, holding onto a spot in the top five in every high-speed survey. TimeWarner, which tried a pay-what-you-use scheme in Texas this year, stayed in the middle of the pack.

Interesting trends in this study: Cable Internet service is growing the fastest, with a 5-point increase versus 3 points for DSL. Dial-up customers are dropping like flies with a 10 percent reduction, but still account for 25 percent of all Internet users nationally. This is in part because dial-up users are largely rural customers who don't have access to high-speed connections. However, with the FCC's vote for high-powered wi-fi on Tuesday, this is likely to change. Perhaps the most interesting statistic is that customer loyalty has decreased by 12 percent for high-speed users and 15 percent for dial-up. As ISPs continue to experiment with throttling, shaping and a la carte kilobyte usage it will be interesting to see where this number goes.

Below are the top three rankings for each region. For a complete list go to: dial-up results or high-speed results.

Dial-Up Internet Service Segment Rankings

* EarthLink ranks highest in the dial-up segment with an index score of 633 on a 1,000-point scale, performing particularly well in customer service, billing, and performance and reliability

* United Online (630) came in a close second

* MSN (602) earned the third Dial-up ranking

High-Speed Internet Service Segment Rankings

East Region:

* Cablevision ranks highest with a score of 650, performing particularly well in offerings and promotions and performance and reliability

* EarthLink follows in the rankings with 643

* Embarq ranks third with 634

South Region:

* Road Runner (delivered by Bright House Networks) earns a score of 670, performing well in cost of service, customer service and billing

* Verizon ranks second (663)

* Insight (661) follows in third place in the region

North Central Region:

* WOW! performs particularly well in all five factors driving satisfaction and ranks highest with 702

* Cincinnati Bell follows with 665

* Cox ranks third with 663

West Region:

* Cox Communications earns the top ranking with 641, performing particularly well in performance and reliability and billi

* EarthLink (630) ranks second

* Verizon (625) follows in third

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