Survey: ISP churn rate still high

Most users have been with their ISP less than two years

A World Research survey suggests that 16 per cent of Internet users will change ISPs in the next six months. The self-selected sample of 3,590 users mostly accessed the Internet from home, and were dominantly male (73 per cent). Particular dislikes with ISPs were a slow log-in and too many busy signals. The geographic distribution of respondents was not given, but it appears to be overwhelmingly American. Favourite ISPs in terms of satisfaction were Erol's Internet, Sympatico and EarthLink Network, with the least-liked being WebTV, AT&T World\Net and AOL. The churn factor appears to have characteristics in common with those changing cellular telephony providers. Some 73 per cent of users had been with their ISP for less than two years, and 42 per cent for less than a year. Another recent study by the Interactive Solutions Group of Market Facts suggests that Internet users mirror the behaviour and attitudes of non-Internet users. The study was based on 3,000 matched sample households, using respondents from Market Facts' consumer panel. If the sample is matched demographically with actual census data, the company says that apart from different attitudes and behaviours towards technology, there are few significant differences between responses to surveys by telephone and mail, and through the Internet. A disturbing aspect of such surveys is that they serve the marketing purposes of the companies carrying out the surveys. A similar problem arises when software companies, for example, commission a market research organisation and -- lo and behold -- the results just happen to be very close to those desired by the commissioner, and the market research firm gets to undertake more studies. Furthermore, the market research firm gets free publicity when its results are publicised buy its client. In view of recent doubts expressed about sacred measures like the P-value test of Professor Sir Ronald Fisher, what are we to believe? ®

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