Overall: 3 ½ Stars
Given the company's noticeably higher scores in every category, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Verizon's overall score of 3 1/2 (3.47) out of five stars also tops the charts in our survey. The two most important factors, according to our Verizon survey participants, performance and reliability, were also the two highest-scoring categories for the company, each earning higher than four stars. These scores were more favorable than those of competing ISPs, and their weighted importance pushed the overall score above the three-star threshold and into the lead.
Interestingly, the company with the highest-rated price score in our survey doesn't actually offer the best price-to-speed ratio. The lead in that category is not obvious compared to other categories and companies. Verizon nudges itself into the lead there because it is one of the only ISPs offering fiber-optic Internet services, with upload speeds as fast as its download bandwidth. This was not lost on our readers, who went hard on every company for pricing, but at least saw the value that fiber-optic technology provides. They therefore judged Verizon's pricing slightly more favorably than they did other ISPs.
"The network is 100 percent fiber," summed up one generally satisfied reader, who rated Verizon at or above three stars in every category. "It really makes the difference."
Our surveyed Verizon readers voted customer support the least-important factor in their decision, but the category still scored an impressive 3¼ stars. It was more important to readers subscribing to other ISPs, and resulted in overall lower ratings for those companies. Perhaps Verizon scored higher because support wasn't as much of a determining factor for these surveyed readers, or maybe the company is just that good with customer service. Either way, an overall score of 3¼ stars out of five gives Verizon the edge in our survey.
At this point, to say Verizon is the winner would be an understatement. Although the price-to-performance ratio isn't the best (on paper), and even though the majority of surveyed DSL subscribers rated each category lower than two stars, Verizon still takes the gold across the board.
Delivering on its customers' primary pain points looks like Verizon's formula for success, with the most important categories rating the highest for the company, and in our review.
|Price (3)||Performance (1)||Reliability (2)||Support (4)||Overall|
|★★ ¾ (2.66)||★★★★ (3.94)||★★★★ ¼ (4.16)||★★★ ¼ (3.20)||★★★ ½ (3.47)|
The table above details the full results of our survey, with each category labeled by the least and most important factors when deciding on an ISP, with (1) being the most important and (4) being the least. Each category is tallied with its rounded one- to five-star rating and its mathematical average, for comparison later (although there isn't much comparison to be had at this point).
The race to the top comes to a screeching finish, with Verizon taking top honors in Tom's Hardware's ISP Review Survey. Before we end our series for the year, we'll take a closer look at the reviewed service providers and compare each directly. Though the winner may be obvious, each company has its merits, and we we'll revisit them in a final analysis.
A special thanks goes out to our readers for participating, following along and providing lots of interesting feedback, which made it possible to take on the monumental task of rating an Internet service provider. We hope this review series was informative, represented your viewpoint in an honorable manner and created some compelling content for your enjoyment.
Derek Forrest is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom’s Hardware. Follow him on Twitter.