preference before diving into telecommunications.Electric utilities would enjoy a strong measure of credibility with consumers should they decide to enter the telephone business.
That finding comes from a recent nationwide survey of more than 1,000 households, drawn from counties with a population of at least 85,000 (see box for details).
All in all, at least one in every three metropolitan households claims to be either "somewhat" or "very" likely to buy local phone service from its local electric utility (em even without a price discount (see Chart). Moreover, the number of likely buyers increases sharply when modest price discounts are introduced. Though a larger proportion of consumers appears willing to buy local phone service from long-distance companies, electric utilities fare better than do cable TV operators or cellular carriers.
When asked, most energy consumers claimed to be "satisfied" with their electric service. To that extent, the proportion of residential customers who say they are somewhat or very satisfied with their electric utility appears comparable to the same cohort of telephone customers at local and long-distance phone companies. However, the telephone carriers may harbor a hidden advantage: Significantly more customers say they are "very satisfied" with their local and long-distance phone companies than make the same claim for electric service. Nevertheless, the level of customer satisfaction with electric utilities substantially exceeds that of cable TV operators.