The American Customer Satisfaction Index released its annual survey, based on over 22,000 customer interviews, revealing how we really feel about our internet service providers. The surprising takeaway: We’re happier now than we’ve been in years. Overall, ISPs scored 68 on ACSI’s 100-point scale, a six-point increase since 2022 and the highest score since at least 2017. But while satisfaction has improved, the news is not so good for ISPs, which rank at the bottom of the index, just ahead of gas stations but below airlines, health insurance providers and social media.
If you dig into the numbers — and we did, given that we include them in our ISP review methodology — they tell a more nuanced story. For the first time, in 2023, ACSI revealed customer satisfaction with fiber optic and non-optic cable suppliers; predictably, ISPs that offer fiber, which is faster and more consistent than other types of Internet connections, scored significantly higher, reaching 75 compared to 66 for non-fiber ISPs. Still, less than 45 percent of U.S. households have access to fiber, according to the Fiber Broadband Association. And although national and regional telcos continue to expand their reach, fiber deployment is slow and concentrated in larger cities and metro stations.
The ISP with the highest customer satisfaction score is AT&T Fiberwhich shifted Verizon Fios from first place to fourth place. CenturyLink and Google Fiber rank second and third among fiber providers, respectively, which is consistent with our view: Verizon Fios, Google Fiber, and AT&T top our overall list of fiber providers, though our recommendations vary by location. After all, we reviewed ISPs in dozens of US cities.
CNET found that fiber is more reliable, prone to fewer outages during peak usage hours and, most importantly, extremely fast for uploading and downloading data. In fact, several national ISPs already boast multi-gigabit plans and one supplier in Chattanooga offers a remarkable 25Gbps plan. So fast service Must cultivate a high level of customer satisfaction.
Although fiber optic plans are generally more expensive than cable internet service, the price gap closes. Cable Internet service plans typically start at around $25 to $30 per month; fiber plans usually start at around $50, but can be significantly more expensive. It has been noted that fiber optics generally provide a lower cost per megabit compared to other types of connections.
Among non-fiber providers, T-Mobile Home Internet
took first place in the 2023 ACSI ranking and scored significantly higher than the average non-optical internet provider. The company’s 5G fixed wireless service has consistently ranked as one of the best services in many of the dozens of cities we’ve evaluated. AT&T Internet, sparkling light, Kinetic by Windstream and Xfinity also scored above the category average.
The provider with the lowest ACSI score among this year was Optimally, which also had the distinction of being the only ISP whose score dropped, albeit only slightly, from the previous year. It is possible for the slide to be attributed to the parent company Altice combines its Suddenlink and Optimum services under one brand last summer.
This year’s ACSI index echoes the findings of a recent one OpenSignal Broadband Experience Report, which named Verizon Fios as the provider with the best service consistency and ranked AT&T Fiber and Google Fiber second and third. And Verizon Fios and AT&T Fiber are often the top choices in many of the cities CNET evaluates — so there’s a high degree of consistency among the available data. Fiber for the win, again.
It’s next JD Power Surveywhich is usually published in the fall.