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Internet service satisfaction down slightly

October 28, 2010 |  6:31 pm

Cox Economic woes mean customers are less likely to be satisfied with their high-speed Internet service.

Market research firm J.D. Power and Associates said Thursday that worries over costs and confusion about the wide array of pricing options from providers led to a less than 1% drop in overall satisfaction compared with 2009 among consumers with high-speed Internet in their homes. Satisfaction with service prices declined 2% compared with 2009.

The study -- based on almost 30,000 customer responses -- considered five factors: performance and reliability; cost of service; billing; offerings and promotions; and customer service.

The increase in customer unhappiness is a small change overall, but it signifies a priority shift among consumers, said Frank Perazzini, director of telecom services at J.D. Power. "As performance improves across all providers, price has moved into the driver's seat for driving consumer decisions."

This new frugal outlook has paradoxically led to a decrease in people switching between Internet services -- 8% this year compared with 11% last year -- as more adopt a "wait-and-see mood," Perazzini said.

"People are asking, 'Is there going to be a killer promotion? Maybe from another provider?' That's holding people back," he said.

Among those who do switch, relocation is the No. 1 cause, he said, followed by price and those choosing to upgrade to higher connection speeds.

The study also ranks providers by region. On the West Coast, Cox Communications comes out on top for highest overall customer satisfaction, followed by Cable One and Earthlink. Verizon outperforms its competitors in the South, while Optimum Online ranks highest in the East and WOW! in the North Central region.

Perazzini said the top trend potentially affecting Internet service in the future is Internet-based TV.

"There is a whole revolution going on with that," he said. "Are people going to get rid of cable and satellite altogether and just use the Internet for watching TV? Or will they keep cable and dabble in both?"

-- Shan Li

Photo: Cox Communications came out on top for overall satisfaction on the West Coast. Credit: Cox Communications.