12:29 PM

Net Accelerators Revive Sagging Dial-Up Usage

Accelerators have boosted the number of hours the U.S.'s 36 million dial-up customers spend online, according to a J.D. Power survey.

Accelerators are increasing the number of hours dial-up users spend online, according to a new survey released Wednesday by J.D. Power and Associates.

The study, Power's 2005 "Internet Service Provider Residential Customer Satisfaction Study," found that overall personal Internet usage among dial-up customers has increased from 15.6 hours a week in 2004 to 17.8 in 2005. Customers with dial-up accelerators average 19.9 hours.

That's 10 percent higher than broadband users, who average 18.1 hours weekly.

Roughly 36 million homes in the United States use dial-up connections, according to widely accepted estimates.

Those using accelerators report spending $19.35 a month, while the average monthly price for dial-up use is slightly higher at $20.04. Average monthly costs for high-speed users are $43.83, compared to $44.12 in 2004.

DSL subscribers are more satisfied than cable modem users, but cable modem providers are outpacing DSL in terms of increasing their market share. DSL subscriptions grew 4 percent from 2004 to 2005 to account for 28 percent of all Internet subscriptions, while DSL grew 1 percent to hold 16 percent of the market.

However, dial-up users who are planning to switch to high-speed within six months said they are more likely to choose DSL (47 percent) over cable modem (30 percent).

While dial-up customers said speed is important in deciding whether to switch, high-speed subscribers focus on price. Discounts played a part in the decisions of 62 percent of customers switching to high-speed.

Steve Kirkeby, senior director of telecommunications research at J.D. Power and Associates, said customers who use accelerators are more likely to switch to broadband products.

"With nearly one-third of dial-up users saying they intend to switch to a high-speed connection in the next six months, dial-up accelerator users are more likely to switch to their current providers' high-speed product," he said.

Among dial-up users, SBC Yahoo!, AT&T Worldnet and EarthLink rate highest for customer satisfaction. Cox, Verizon, BellSouth, and BrightHouse rank highest among high-speed customers.

The survey, in its eighth year, is based on responses from 6,313 home Internet users. It measures satisfaction in performance and reliability; cost; image; customer service and technical support; billing; e-mail services; and offerings and promotions.

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