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Road Runner No. 1 in Satisfaction Survey

Data-over-cable provider Road Runner last week outranked Excite@Home Corp. and several digital subscriber line companies in the J.D. Power and Associates customer-satisfaction survey of high-speed Internet service providers.

No. 1 Road Runner scored 15 points above the industry average (100) among the 11 high-speed ISPs evaluated in a consumer survey. Connection quality was the most important driver of customer satisfaction, the study noted.

"It's encouraging to see the priorities we've put in place have paid off," said Road Runner president Jeffrey King, who added that company's main focus has been on reliability, availability and scalability. "That's our mantra."

EarthLink Inc. finished No. 2 in the high-speed study at 109, followed by Excite@Home with 106 and BellSouth at 101.

Road Runner's corporate cousin, America Online, did not fare as well. AOL was at or below the industry average, along with AT&T WorldNet, Microsoft Corp.'s MSN, Pacific Bell , SBC Communications Inc., Qwest Communications International Inc. and Verizon Communications.

King attributed Road Runner customer-satisfaction levels to the efforts of "thousands of people" working towards a common goal, including cable-modem installers who keep their appointments and call-center agents who make sure queries are answered within 30 seconds 90 percent of the time.

It's too soon to say whether Road Runner will mention the J.D. Power award in future advertising, King said.

J.D. Power typically charges award winners a fee for the use of the honor's name and likeness. The company also ranks cable and satellite television services every year.

Time Warner Cable provides Road Runner service to 1.4 million cable-modem customers in the U.S. and Canada. A small number of cable systems unaffiliated with Time Warner also provide Road Runner service.

As Time Warner and other MSOs move towards offering multiple ISPs, King said Road Runner is still well-positioned to attract new cable-modem customers. "We already have the best brand out there," King said.

Among 14 dial-up ISPs, AT&T WorldNet ranked No. 1 in the survey; EarthLink ranked second in the dial-up category.

According to J.D. Power, high-speed service accounts for 13 percent of all residential ISP subscriptions in the U.S., up from 5 percent just a year ago. Of the dial-up subscribers surveyed, 10 percent said they were likely or extremely likely to switch to a cable-modem or digital-subscriber-line account within the next six months.