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What's the Best Broadband ISP?

The votes are in, and one service stands head and shoulders above the rest

July 24, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - In a world filled with outrageous offers and broken promises by broadband ISPs, who can you trust?

That's what Computerworld set out to discover. Like you, we've seen the brassy, glossy come-ons promising high speed, high quality and low prices ... and, like you, we've frequently been disappointed.

So we decided that we'd do a search to find the best broadband ISP in the U.S. by turning directly to the people who know best: you and other Computerworld readers. To do that, we conducted a monthlong online survey asking you to rate your Internet service provider in a variety of categories: overall satisfaction, connection reliability, download speed, upload speed, customer service, technical support, value (price vs. performance) and e-mail service. For each category, readers were given six choices: excellent, good, average, poor, very poor or not applicable/no opinion.

Then we tallied the results from our 1,163 respondents and came up with the winners ... and the losers. (For detailed information about the survey and our number-crunching, see How the Survey Was Conducted and Graded.)

We came up with more as well. Based on your answers, we've been able to create a snapshot of how people feel about their broadband ISP overall, and of how they use the service. We found, for example, that 58% of respondents use cable and 38% use DSL. Included in the DSL numbers are those who use fiber-optic FiOS connections. (Not everyone responded to that question, which is why the numbers don't quite add up to 100%.)

We also found that despite the hype, VoIP isn't exactly skyrocketing with broadband customers; only 27% of you are using it.

When it comes to whether broadband ISPs deliver on their high-speed promises, the answer is a resounding no -- only 20% said their ISP delivers on speed promises, while 64% said it doesn't, and 16% either didn't know or had no opinion.

Editor's note: Due to rounding, the percentages in this story's results charts don't always add up to exactly 100%.

What's the Best Broadband ISP?

What You Think About Broadband Service

Before we take an in-depth look at the overall winners and losers for best and worst broadband ISPs, we'll take a look at a snapshot of how, as a group, broadband ISPs rate with customers.

Overall Satisfaction
Overall Satisfaction  Excellent: 32%
 Good: 41%
 Average: 19%
 Poor: 6%
 Very poor: 2%
 Not applicable/
no opinion: 1%

Here's the biggest shock: For all of your grumbling, and for all of the complaints lodged against broadband ISPs on message boards and blogs across the Internet, you're generally happy with your broadband providers. A full 73% of respondents rated their overall experience with their broadband ISP as either excellent or good (32% for excellent and 41% for good). Only 8% rated their experience as poor or very poor (6% and 2%, respectively), with 16% calling it average.

Standing out from the pack here was Verizon FiOS, with a whopping 94% giving it excellent or good ratings. Only 2% rated Verizon FiOS as poor, and 4% rated it average.

Connection Reliability
Connection Reliability  Excellent: 46%
 Good: 33%
 Average: 13%
 Poor: 5%
 Very poor: 3%
 Not applicable/
no opinion: 0%

Here's another surprise -- despite the whining we all do (yours truly included) about unreliable connections, on the whole we're pretty happy with the reliability of our broadband connections.

Some 79% of you rated your connection reliability as being excellent (46%) or good (33%), with only 8% rating it poor (5%) or very poor (3%). The remaining 13% rated it average.

Once again, Verizon FiOS ruled the roost, with an amazing 96% rating it excellent or good (86% and 10%, respectively). Only 2% rated it poor, and 2% rated it average.

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