Are DSL Users Satisfied With Their Service?

Section III: Comparing DSL Service to Cable Service

Although our survey was broadly aimed at DSL users, we were also interested in how DSL customer satisfaction compared to cable customer satisfaction. Our respondents included 63 cable broadband users (9.4%). We compared their responses to those of the DSL users and found that in most cases the DSL users reported more negative experiences than the cable broadband users.

bar chart, see next paragraph

Figure III-1

As we noted in Section II, a majority of DSL users waited no more than a month for service to be started. This was also the case with cable broadband users (Figure III-1). But when we compared the percentage of DSL and cable subscribers who reported waiting more than one month, we found that a higher percentage of DSL users experienced longer waits than compared to cable broadband users (13.8% of cable customers reported waiting more than a month, compared to 36.4% of DSL users).

DSL vs. Cable: Perception of Waiting Period
 DSLCable
Too Long43.91%25.93%
Just Right27.59%40.74%
Pleasantly Short28.51%33.33%

Table III-1

Not surprisingly, a larger percentage (Table III-1) of DSL users thought the waiting period was too long (43.9% compared to 25.93% of cable users). In fact, a majority (nearly 75%) of cable broadband customers felt the wait was either just right (40.74%) or pleasantly short (33.3%). In contrast, only about 56% of DSL users felt the wait was just right (27.59%) or pleasantly short (28.51%).

When we looked at who installed service (Figure III-2), we found that the percentage of DSL users who did their own installation was more than double that of cable broadband users (40.1% of DSL users compared to 14.8% of cable broadband customers). It is interesting to note that in spite of having a much larger percentage of self-installs, DSL users waited longer for service to get started. Comments from survey respondents referred to the need for more than one visit from a technician to complete the installation process, and an unprofessional attitude on the part of DSL companies.

bar chart, see previous paragraph

Figure III-2

DSL vs. Cable: Billed Before Service
 DSLCable
Not Billed Early76.5%87.9%
Billed Early14.8%5.2%

Table III-2

One of the differences we found between cable broadband and DSL users (Table III-2) was that the percentage of DSL users who reported being billed before service was initiated was nearly three times that of cable broadband users (14.8% of the DSL users compared to 5.2% of cable users. (Some respondents chose the "Do not know" option.)

bar chart, see next paragraph

Figure III-3

A majority of both DSL users (82%) and cable users (75.9%) reported that they were receiving the connection speed they had been promised all or most of the time (Figure III-3). Only 20.7% of the cable users and 14.5% of the DSL users indicated that they were receiving the promised speed part of the time or not at all (and 3.5% of the respondents chose the "Do not know" option).

bar chart, see next paragraph

Figure III-4

Nearly half of the cable broadband users (48.3%) and DSL users (43.3%) reported never experiencing a service disruption (Figure III-4). Of the respondents who did experience service disruptions, a higher percentage of DSL users reported that service was disrupted weekly or less frequently (50.7% of DSL users compared to 41.4% of cable broadband customers). Conversely, a higher percentage of cable broadband customers reported daily service disruptions (10.3% compared to 6%).

DSL vs. Cable: Length of Disruptions
 DSLCable
Less than 1 Hour29.3%9.1%
1-24 Hours44.0%48.5%
More than 24 Hours26.7%42.4%

Table III-3

When we looked at the length of service disruptions (Table III-3), a higher percentage of DSL users reported service disruptions of less than one hour (29.3% of DSL users compared to 9.1% of cable broadband users). Conversely, the percentage of cable broadband users reporting service disruptions of more than 24 hours was higher than that of DSL users (42.4% of cable broadband users reported disruptions of more than 24 hours compared to 26.7% of DSL users). The largest percentage of both DSL and cable broadband users reported disruptions of between one and 24 hours (44% of DSL users compared to 48.5% of cable broadband users).

bar chart, see next paragraph

Figure III-5

A majority of both DSL and cable users (69.7% and 72.2% respectively) reported having called technical support, and a majority of those who did were satisfied with the service they received (Figure III-5). However, 37.4% of the DSL users were either dissatisfied (23.2%) or neutral (14.2%). In comparison, 28.2% of cable broadband users were either dissatisfied with the technical support they received (15.4%), or neutral (12.8%). As noted in the previous section, the most common complaints were long waits on hold when calling for help, and inadequately trained technicians

bar chart, see next paragraph

Figure III-6

When we compared DSL and cable broadband users' experience with customer service (Figure III-6), our survey found that a majority of both (54.8% of DSL users and 54.39% of cable users) reported having called customer service at least once. Of those who called, a majority of both DSL and cable users expressed satisfaction with the experience (58% of DSL users and 64% of cable broadband users). But 42.1% of the DSL users were either dissatisfied with customer service (23.3%), or neutral (18.8%). In contrast, 35.5% of cable users were either dissatisfied (29%) or neutral (6.5%). It is worth noting that DSL and cable customers look very similar in terms of satisfaction with both technical support and customer service.

NEXT: About the Survey and Authors