$70 is the magic number for internet pricing, J.D. Power says

Fixed and wireless broadband customers cited price as the number one reason they would switch service providers in a new J.D. Power study, and it appears most have a particular price point in mind.

The takeaway comes from J.D. Power’s 2022 U.S. Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study. The report analyzes consumer sentiment and operator achievement across five categories: performance and reliability, cost of service, billing and payment, communications and promotions, and customer care.

Ian Greenblatt, managing director at J.D. Power, told Fierce the first two categories alone account for nearly 60% of an operator’s score.

"So obviously keeping the lights on is job number one. It’s got to work, it’s got to work all the time. Reliability is critical…followed by cost of service,” he said. “How do I feel about the value I get for the dollars I pay? Does it feel like I’m getting the right deal, do I feel like I’m getting taken advantage of?”

He added consumers seem most satisfied if their service cost $70 per month or less. After that “we see a meaningful drop off” in satisfaction, Greenblatt noted.

Practically speaking, that means most consumers are shopping operators’ mid-tier plans. For instance, AT&T and Verizon both offer 500 Mbps fiber plans for less than $70 (or, in Verizon’s case, a gig if you have an eligible 5G plan with them). Comcast offers a 600 Mbps plan at that price point, though its 1.2 Gbps plan is also in reach if you apply autopay. Meanwhile, T-Mobile’s fixed wireless home internet is $55 per month for typical download speeds of between 33-182 Mbps.

On the reliability front, Greenblatt noted there’s a huge satisfaction gap among those who experience intermittent internet signal problems and those who don’t. Of 13 providers included in the study, seven offered performance below the industry average for intermittent internet signal problems. Verizon had the fewest problems in this area followed closely by Comcast's Xfinity service, Greenblatt said.

He flagged excessively slow loading speeds as another major issue in the performance category. “All things equal, customers who experience those versus those who don’t, you’re looking at 180 to 190 points lower out of 1,000. So, it means something.”

Here are some other interesting tidbits from the report Greenblatt shared with Fierce:

  • In terms of overall satisfaction, fiber performs 36 points better than cable. Cable, in turn, performs 9 points better than DSL.
  • 18% of consumers said they would leave their fixed wireless service for faster speeds.
  • Most fixed broadband customers (58%) said they found their ISP by visiting a website, whereas 43% of fixed wireless customers found their ISP through word of mouth.

The J.D. Power study was based on survey responses from 22,945 customers which had internet service from one of the included providers. Responses were gathered between November 2021 and August 2022.