Consumer Reports: WOW, Verizon are best triple-play providers

Cable overbuilders WideOpenWest and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) were ranked the top triple-play providers of pay TV, high-speed Internet and telephone service in the June issue of Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports gave WOW a score of 81 and Verizon FiOS a score of 77. They were followed by Bright House Networks (74); AT&T (NYSE: T) U-verse (72); Cox Communications (71); and Cablevision's (NYSE: CVC) Optimum products (69). Major cable MSOs Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) (67), Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) (65); and Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR) (63) placed near the bottom of the list of top triple-play providers. Mediacom Communications scored a 59.

Consumer Reports said its rankings for bundled telecom services were based on surveys of 69,000 readers of measures such as value, billing, customer support, added services, price after promotion, and "would bundle again." It also rated hybrid triple-play packages that include DSL and satellite TV service. The hybrid packages from CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) and Verizon each scored a 69, and AT&T's hybrid bundle scored a 68.

Denver-based WOW also led the Consumer Reports ranking for the top pay TV services, scoring a 78. It was followed by FiOS (76); U-verse; Bright House; DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) (each with 71); Dish (Nasdaq: DISH)  (70); Cox Communications (68); Suddenlink (67); Insight Communications, now owned by Time Warner Cable (65); Cablevision (64); Time Warner Cable and RCN (each with a 62); Comcast (61); Charter (58); and Mediacom (56). The TV rankings were based on measures of value, reliability, channel selection, picture quality and customer support.

The top 10 Internet service providers were WOW, FiOS, Bright House, EarthLink (Nasdaq: ELNK) cable modem service, TDS (NYSE: TDS), Frontier (NYSE: FTR), U-verse, EarthLink DSL, Knology (Nasdaq: KNOL) and Cincinnati Bell (NYSE: CBB). The top 10 phone service providers were Ooma, WOW, SuddenLink, FiOS, Vonage (NYSE: VG), Bright House, Cox, TDS, Cablevision and U-verse, according to Consumer Reports.

In addition to ranking the top telecom providers, Consumer Reports also offers readers tips on reducing their bills, noting that 90 percent of readers with a triple-play package received "some accommodation" when they attempted to bargain with their providers for better deals. "Hagglers' experiences also suggest that it can pay to let the provider know consumers are ready to drop some or all of its services," Consumer Reports said, suggesting that readers schedule cancellations two weeks in advance in order to obtain aggressive, "last-ditch" offers from providers.

For more:
- see the news release

Special Report: Unraveling the triple play bundle

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