Internet users love fiber service, too bad you probably can’t get it Ars Technica

Bright wavy lines in a fiber cable illustration.

Bright wavy lines in a fiber cable illustration.

Getty Images | Yuichiro Chino

Fiber-to-the-home Internet service is a clear favorite of broadband users in the United States, but unfortunately most people in the United States don’t have access to the technology, the American Customer Satisfaction Index said today.

“Across the customer experience as a whole, fiber service shows a strong advantage in data transfer speed and service reliability at touchpoints such as call centers and websites,” Forrest Morgeson, chief executive officer, said in a news release. emeritus of ACSI research and professor of marketing at Michigan State University. announcing the latest research from ACSI. “That said, with over half of US households lacking access to fiber internet, availability remains a pain point. Therefore, non-fiber ISP services remain an attractive option for many customers and should not be overlooked by providers. “.

One reason customers like fiber is that it offers faster upload speeds than cable and other technologies. But cable companies dominate the US broadband market. Major U.S. cable companies had 76.2 million broadband subscribers by the end of the first quarter of 2023, according to data from the Leichtman Research Group. Major landline companies had 30.8 million Internet subscribers , including both fiber and slower DSL.

Fiber available to 38% of the US

In terms of availability, the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband map indicates that approximately 38% of US residents can get fiber. The percentage drops to 29% when you include only fiber services that offer gigabit download speeds and upload speeds of at least 100 Mbps. The FCC map identifies 114 million locations where fixed broadband could be installed, including both residences and companies.

The ACSI measures customer satisfaction across many industries using a 100-point scale. The new ACSI telecom study 2022-2023 is based on interviews with 22,061 randomly selected customers between April 2022 and March 2023, the group said. The study also examines streaming video and traditional subscription TV services offered by cable companies.

All fiber ISPs combined had an average customer satisfaction score of 75, while non-fiber ISPs (including wireless home Internet services) had an average customer satisfaction score of 66. streaming quality, internet quality of service, speed data transfer, outages, and peak hour performance.

“AT&T Fiber outscores fiber ISPs and the entire industry with a score of 80,” ACSI said. “CenturyLink Fiber is next at 78, followed by Google Fiber (76).” CenturyLink is also known as Lumen after a recent name change.

An “everyone else” group within the fiber category consisting of smaller fiber ISPs scored 75 on a 100-point scale. Verizon FiOS also scored a 75. Meanwhile, “Frontier Fiber e [Comcast] Xfinity Fiber complements fiber ISPs at 74 and 73, respectively,” the ACSI said. Comcast delivers fiber to the home in some areas at prices far higher than its more widely available cable service.

AT&T likes fiber but won’t build it everywhere

AT&T operates the largest consumer fiber network in the country and reports that it has 7.5 million fiber broadband subscribers. Including AT&T’s slower broadband products like DSL, the company has 13.9 million customers.

AT&T has room to grow its customer base as the network has the “capacity to serve fiber to 19.7 million consumers and more than 3 million corporate customer locations in more than 100 U.S. metro areas,” and the company “remains[s] on track to surpass 30 million fiber locations by the end of 2025,” says AT&T.

But millions of homes in AT&T territory are stuck on slower copper-based DSL, and AT&T wants many of them to switch to fixed wireless instead of fiber cables because telecommunications won’t roll out fiber everywhere in its territory.

Verizon’s fiber service known as FiOS has 6.8 million Internet customers.

In the ACSI report’s non-fiber home Internet category, the most popular providers were T-Mobile and AT&T. This excludes the mobile cellular offerings more widely used by companies. T-Mobile offers wireless home Internet service, while AT&T offers DSL and wireless home Internet, both of which fall into the “non-fiber” category.

“Among non-fiber ISPs, T-Mobile takes first place, improving 3% to 73. AT&T Internet comes in second after increasing 4% to 72, while newcomer ACSI Sparklight [also known as Cable One] sits in third place at 71. Windstream’s Kinetic has the largest gain, jumping 13 percent to 70, narrowly edging out Xfinity (+3 percent) at 68,” the ACSI said.

The “everyone else” category in non-fiber providers scored an average of 66. Mediacom’s Xtream scored a 65, while Cox and Charter Spectrum both scored 64.

CenturyLink and Frontier DSL are not very popular

As you would expect, companies like CenturyLink and Frontier that provide fiber in some areas and older DSL technology in other regions have had lower customer satisfaction scores for DSL. “Despite an impressive result among fiber ISPs, CenturyLink sits near bottom in the non-fiber group, up 3% to 62. Frontier Communications is steady at 61,” ACSI said.

In last place was cable provider Optimum (aka Altice USA), which fell 2% and posted an ACSI score of 58.

In TV analytics, video streaming services improved their average score from 74 to 77 year-over-year. Traditional subscription TV service offered by cable, satellite and phone companies improved its average score from 66 to 69 between 2022 and 2023.

The FCC map indicates that more than 7% of residential locations in the United States do not have access to wired or licensed landline wireless services with download speeds of at least 25 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps. More than 10% do not have access to the 100/10Mbps service.

The search parameter “all wired and licensed fixed wireless” excludes satellite, including Starlink, which claims to serve more than 99% of the country on the FCC map despite having a waiting list in much of the United States. Our report also showed that Comcast and other cable companies claimed to serve more locations than they really do, though some of the false claims were later taken off the map.

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