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Cable Scores High in Power Phone Survey

The latest J.D. Power and Associates study showed that cable companies’ phone service, for the first time, drew the highest customer-service ratings in five out of six U.S. regions.

While last year, only Cox Communications led any of the regional customer-satisfaction rankings, the new survey (concerning local and long-distance services) found that Cox led in three regions (Northeast, Southwest and West) and Bright House Networks (Southeast) and Time Warner Cable (North Central) led in one region each.

Verizon Communications led in the mid-Atlantic region.

"While telephone service offered by cable companies is relatively new to the market, large numbers of customers are being lured to switch with enticing cost savings and highly attractive bundles of video, voice and data service," J.D. Power executive director of telecommunications and technology research Steve Kirkeby said in a news release.

“The importance of pricing as a reason to bundle service with a single provider has increased dramatically this year, no doubt a result of significant price competition introduced when cable companies began offering local and long-distance telephone service to new markets," he added.

Despite the role of lower prices in consumer decision-making, J.D. Power said customers reported that their spending on local and long-distance service rose 3.4% from 2005. On average, customers reported paying $52.40 per month for local and long-distance service, up from $50.70 in 2005. Cable customers reported paying an average of $42.40 per month, compared with the $53.59 average telephone-company customers reported spending, according to J.D. Power.

The firm also said the study found that customer satisfaction in the telephone industry continued to decline. Overall, satisfaction-index scores dropped from 692 (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2005 to 670 in 2006.

Satisfaction fell in all six factor areas measured in the study, dropping most significantly in the areas of customer service, image and billing. The other areas measured are performance and reliability, cost of service and offerings and promotions.