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Survey: Users want DSL but can't get it

Dial-up Internet users are more willing to upgrade to DSL than to cable modem service, according to a study. The problem is finding a DSL provider.

Dial-up Internet users are more willing to upgrade to digital subscriber line (DSL) service than to cable modem service, according to a study.

If they can actually get DSL, that is.

In a survey of 7,700 dial-up Internet service customers, 52 percent of the respondents said they would prefer to upgrade to DSL rather than cable service. By contrast, 38 percent said they would prefer cable. The study was conducted by J.D. Power and Associates.

The main reason for switching is price, the survey found. DSL providers, namely the Baby Bells, have been .

But availability of service is a major stumbling block for DSL. That has helped cable modem providers continue to have nearly twice as many subscribers as DSL, the study said.

"Price continues to be the number-one reason to switch providers among dial-up and high-speed Internet subscribers," Steve Kirkeby, senior director of telecommunication research at J.D. Power and Associates, said in a statement. "However, widespread availability is a critical hurdle that DSL providers haven?t yet been able to jump."

The survey also rated customer satisfaction with dial-up and broadband providers. In dial-up, AT&T Worldnet Service ranked the highest in satisfaction, followed by EarthLink, BellSouth and United Online. Microsoft's MSN, SBC Communications' Prodigy and AOL Time Warner's America Online and its CompuServe Interactive Services subsidiary occupied the bottom tier.

For broadband providers, EarthLink ranked highest in customer satisfaction, followed by BellSouth, Time Warner Cable's Road Runner and Cox Communications. Adelphia Communications, Charter Communications, Comcast and Qwest Communications ranked lowest.

Broadband providers all showed gains last quarter, but some companies, including SBC and Comcast, outdistanced their competitors.