ANN ARBOR–When it comes to connectivity, there is no contest: Fiber internet beats non-fiber service hands down.
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index Telecommunications Study 2022-2023, the former outpaces the latter by a whopping 9 points—75 to 66—for customer satisfaction (on a scale of 0 to 100).
“Across the entire customer experience, fiber service shows a strong advantage — from data transfer speed and service reliability to touchpoints like call centers and websites,” says Forrest Morgeson, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Michigan State University and Director of Research Emeritus at the ACSI. “That said, with well over half of U.S. households lacking access to fiber internet, availability remains a sticking point. As such, non-fiber ISP services remain an attractive option for many customers and should not be overlooked by providers.”
Along with internet service providers (ISPs) — fiber and non-fiber — ACSI covers two telecommunications industries in this study: subscription TV service and video streaming service (streaming apps and live TV apps).
AT&T Fiber leads all ISPs, but CenturyLink Fiber isn’t far behind
Overall customer satisfaction with ISPs climbed 6% to an ACSI score of 68. The ongoing infusion of fiber into the market plays a key role in this robust upswing.
AT&T Fiber topped fiber ISPs—and the entire industry—with a score of 80. CenturyLink Fiber was next at 78, followed by Google Fiber (76). The smaller group of fiber ISPs and Verizon Fios both scored 75. Frontier Fiber and Xfinity Fiber rounded out the fiber ISPs at 74 and 73, respectively.
Among non-fiber ISPs, T-Mobile took top spot with a score of 73. AT&T Internet finished second at 72, while ACSI newcomer Sparklight sat in third place at 71. Kinetic by Windstream was next at 70, just outperforming Xfinity (68).
Despite an impressive showing among fiber ISPs, CenturyLink sits near the bottom in the non-fiber group with a score of 62. Frontier Communications and Optimum round out the non-fiber ISPs at 61 and 58, respectively.
Fiber sets the pace for in-home Wi-Fi quality
ACSI also measures key aspects of the in-home Wi-Fi experience for both customers who use equipment from their ISP and those who use third-party equipment that they have purchased.
Fiber ISPs (79) outperformed both non-fiber ISPs (73) and third-party equipment providers (70) for overall Wi-Fi quality. The former far exceeded the other two in every customer experience benchmark, including strong marks for the security of its Wi-Fi connection (81) and reliability in terms of avoiding loss of service (80).
Amazon Prime Video and Hulu + Live TV top video streaming industry
The video streaming industry, which includes both streaming apps (77) and live TV apps (76), improved 4% to an ACSI score of 77. The smaller group of streaming and live TV apps overall dipped 4% to 75.
Among streaming apps, Amazon Prime Video sats in the pole position after surging 8% to an ACSI score of 80. Amazon’s decision to increase spending on video content in 2022 looks to be paying off, as it saw huge gains in viewer perceptions of its original content.
Peacock moved into second place following a 10% increase to 79. Although much smaller than Netflix and other industry giants, the streamer is in growth mode, expanding its content and hitting it big with some of the most-viewed TV titles in 2022. ACSI data show viewers are responding, giving serious love to Peacock’s TV and new film offerings.
Four streaming apps scored 78: Hulu (up 4%), Netflix (up 5%), Paramount+ (up 1%), and ACSI newcomer YouTube Premium.
HBO Max, now relaunched as Max, scored 77 (up 5%), followed by Apple TV+ (up 10%) and Disney+ (down 3%), both at 76. ESPN+ sat near the bottom of the industry after slipping 1% to 72, but Crackle finished last despite improving 1% to 70.
Meanwhile, Hulu + Live TV debuted atop the live TV apps with an ACSI score of 80. Sling TV (up 6%) and YouTube TV (down 1%) both scored 76, while DIRECTV STREAM stumbled 5% to a score of 72.
U-verse increases lead in subscription TV
No longer the most hated industry in the Index overall, subscription TV service extends its positive ACSI trend for a fourth straight year, surging 5% to an all-time high score of 69.
“Nevertheless, traditional cable and satellite providers continue to lose customers to streaming alternatives, often over price concerns,” adds Morgeson. “Those that do remain tend to be more satisfied and loyal, which boosts customer satisfaction for the subscription TV industry overall.”
U-verse TV, available to existing subscribers only, expanded its lead following a 7% jump to 78. Verizon Fios remained second, up 4% to 74, while Frontier Communications flew up the leaderboard after improving 18% to 72.
At the bottom of the industry, the group of small subscription TV providers and Spectrum each increased 3% to 65, while Optimum, despite a 5% bump, finishes last with an ACSI score of 60.
The ACSI Telecommunications Study 2022-2023 is based on interviews with 22,061 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email between April 2022 and March 2023. Download the study here.
More about the ACSI at www.theacsi.org.