Incognito Software Systems, a global provider of solutions for communication service providers, has released its 2016 Incognito Broadband Consumer Quality of Experience (QoE) Survey, which explores subscribers’ level of satisfaction with their broadband service provider. Although the survey finds that only 34 per cent of subscribers are likely to recommend their provider, the results suggest that the largest and most frequent issues subscribers have can be both identified and addressed with the proper tools.
With broadband service providers in America routinely ranking the lowest on yearly American Consumer Satisfaction Indexes, Incognito conducted its survey to better understand not just the level of dissatisfaction among broadband consumers, but also the reasons behind it. Incognito polled broadband users throughout the US – encompassing every region of the mainland and every adult age bracket – to obtain 799 complete responses.
Notable findings of the survey include:
• The largest influencers on subscriber QoE are service speed, reliable WiFi and pricing options – and subscribers are dissatisfied with the experience their provider currently supplies. Only 34 per cent of respondents are likely to recommend their provider to a friend.
• 45 per cent of respondents say their decision whether to recommend their provider is based on service speed, 31 per cent say WiFi reliability and 21 per cent answer pricing and service bundling options.
• When given the option of improving just one facet of their current Internet experience, however, 39 per cent of overall respondents choose pricing. The next highest selection was speed, which garners 25 per cent of the vote.
• While the per centages vary a bit by region, suburban dwellers placed a higher emphasis on pricing than their counterparts in urban or rural environments. 35 per cent of respondents in urban areas selected pricing, followed by 26 per cent for speed, while those in suburban areas chose pricing most frequently at 46 per cent and speed at just 19 per cent. 35 per cent of rural voters preferred more favourable pricing compared to 26 per cent for faster speeds.
While pricing helps providers retain customers, nothing helps them attract new subscribers more than faster speeds, though WiFi reliability is close behind. Unsurprisingly, the three biggest factors behind subscriber QoE are the three most attractive elements for potential new subscribers as well.
• 33 per cent of respondents would be interested in changing service providers for faster Internet, while 32 per cent would do so for more pricing options, and 28 per cent for more reliable WiFi.
• Among the youngest demographic (18-24-year-olds) living in urban areas, those numbers jump to 49 per cent for speed and 46 per cent for reliable WiFi, while the ratio of respondents choosing pricing options remains nearly unchanged.
• The growing desire for better WiFi is further reflected by 40 per cent of all respondents selecting “better WiFi hotspot coverage” as their most desired value-added service.
Traditional Internet uses and Internet-connected devices reign supreme – for now. General Web browsing continues to be the largest primary Internet use among respondents (60 per cent), and desktops and laptops account for the most used devices to connect (63 per cent). That said, trends towards other uses and devices are building:
• 51 per cent of respondents regularly access the Internet via smartphone, including 67 per cent of 18-24-year-olds.
• 16 per cent of 18-24-year-old respondents use the Internet primarily for streaming video and music – which is over 2.5 times more than the rest of the adult population.
• The growing use of phones and tablets for bandwidth-heavy purposes forces providers to supply higher-quality data services to even more devices.
Despite measured dissatisfaction and unwillingness to recommend their provider, most subscribers do not ultimately make a switch – though many consider it. Only 10 per cent of respondents had switched providers within the last year, but 31 per cent have considered the idea of moving to a new service.
• Although a combined 40 per cent of respondents have either changed their service provider or contemplated doing so, 32 per cent have not considered switching in the past 12 months at all.
• A further 28 per cent answered that the decision is not solely theirs to make.
Usage-based billing does not seem to affect customer opinions about pricing, but better education could make it more popular. Just 15 per cent of respondents would prefer switching their payment plan to a usage-based billing system.
• 58 per cent of respondents would not want to pay based on the Internet data they actually incurred over the given billing period, meaning there are nearly four times as many people who oppose usage-based billing than those who support it.
• Over a quarter of respondents (28 per cent), however, don’t understand what is meant by “usage-based bandwidth billing” in the first place, which suggests that more information on the concept could clarify public opinion or even make usage-based billing more palatable.
“In this era of subscriber monetisation, it’s essential that broadband providers clearly grasp what’s important to their existing subscribers,” said Stephane Bourque, president and CEO of Incognito. “As our survey shows, providers are expected to do more than ever before – provide faster speeds, lower prices and superior WiFi capabilities to live up to their subscribers’ demands. To meet this high bar, providers must seek out the appropriate tools to gather smarter network insights, improve device and home network management capabilities, and provide subscribers with tailored services that meet their unique needs.”