Cable Internet: Are You Getting What You Pay For?

For cable providers, the number of Internet service subscribers has now surpassed the number of TV service subscribers1. With streaming content from Netflix and set-top boxes such as Roku or Google Chromecast, many of these Internet subscribers have also chosen to cancel their TV service in favor of a standalone Internet subscription1.

If you count yourself among the cable Internet-only crowd, you might save money by ditching TV service. But you likely also pay more for Internet. When they increase the cost of Internet service, cable providers can make up for the loss of TV subscriptions1.

So, do you know if you’re really getting what you pay for from your cable Internet provider?

It’s hard to tell. The traditional cable infrastructure allows multiple households to tap into the same Internet connection. The connection could be shared by as many as 500 neighbors in your network, and decrease your speed significantly during peak hours, when everyone is online.

Why cut cable Internet?

The answer is simple. Cable Internet providers use their existing infrastructure for both cable TV and Internet service. This forces you to share the Internet connection you pay for with hundreds of other homes.

What does that really mean for you?

During peak hours, your Internet can slow to a crawl, depending on how many other people draw from the same connection. Imagine trying to stream TV to your home computer and having to wait every few minutes for buffering. Is poor cable Internet service worth the money you’re paying – especially when there are other Internet service providers available to you?

Alternative Internet options

If you’ve considered getting rid of your cable Internet service, but worry that you won’t find another provider, you’re not alone. Many people believe that cable is their only option.

However, no matter where you live, there is always more than one Internet service provider for you to choose from. For most Americans, there are typically two Internet service providers available in their area. Although most cable companies serve customers only in cities or large metropolitan areas, DSL Internet is more readily available outside of cities, and in rural areas. Satellite Internet is also an alternative for any home that has a clear view of the southern sky.

ISP-ACSI-scores

Source: ACSI Telecommunications and Information Report 2014

Customer satisfaction with cable Internet providers

Every year, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) conducts customer satisfaction reports for a variety of industries. According to the Telecommunications and Information Report for 2014, ACSI customer satisfaction scores for providers that offer fiber-optic and DSL Internet service rank higher than Internet service from cable companies2.

Telecommunications companies, such as Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink, topped the list of customer satisfaction. Cable providers, on the other hand, including Cox, Charter, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, all found themselves with the lowest ACSI scores for satisfied customers2.

If you’re considering cutting your ties with cable, research third-party sources such as ACSI, and read reviews from other Internet provider’s customers to see how they enjoy their service.


Sources:

1Data collected 8/20/14 from http://qz.com/250254/for-the-first-time-more-americans-subscribe-to-cable-internet-than-cable-tv/

2Data collected 8/18/14 from http://www.theacsi.org/news-and-resources/customer-satisfaction-reports/reports-2014/acsi-telecommunications-and-information-report-2014/acsi-telecommunications-and-information-report-2014-download