Published: 14/02/2020
  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) of UK adults suffer broadband outages or significantly slower internet speeds at least once a month

  • An overwhelming majority (89%) of these users didn’t receive any compensation for their inconvenience

  • Almost one fifth (19%) admit to not knowing their current broadband speed

  • Two fifths (41%) of those who complained about their service say their provider handled their complaint badly

10 February 2020 – A survey of over 2,000 UK adults by comparethemarket.com reveals that an estimated 33 million broadband users* suffer outages or significantly slower broadband speeds at least once month, with over one in ten (15%) households experiencing connectivity issues up to four times a month.

For the majority of those affected (81%) outages tend to last between one to two hours. For those who work from home and need access to information online, over half of these (51%) reported being materially impacted in some way, including their ability to work from home and to communicate with family and friends.

According to Ofcom, the UK’s broadcast and telecommunications regulator, suppliers who are part of the Automatic Compensation Scheme must provide compensation if an outage is not fixed after two full working days.

However, not all UK broadband suppliers are signed up to the scheme, and of those who experienced outages, almost one in ten (9%) were without broadband for two days or more – meaning some customers could be without adequate compensation.* Under the scheme, customers should receive an initial £8 if the service is not fixed two full working days after the fault is reported, and then £8 for each full day it is still not fixed after that.

comparethemarket.com’s research shows that less than a third (32%) of those who have experienced poor connection speeds raised a formal complaint with their provider – and two fifths (41%) say that their complaint was handled badly by their company.

Over three fifths of consumers (61%) pay for fast or ultrafast fibre broadband which should offer download speeds between 30-100MBs. Watching and/or downloading films and sports (65%) is one of the primary reasons people use broadband, with one-fifth of individuals paying extra for a sports bundle on top of their subscription service. However, almost one-quarter (24%) said a poor connection impacted their ability to watch, and a similar number (23%) believe that they are not getting value for money from their broadband package.

Despite the ongoing connectivity issues affecting these households, inertia is a persistent problem, with three quarters 75% admitting they haven’t considered switching provider in order to access faster and more reliable broadband.

Holly Niblett, Head of Digital at comparethemarket.com, commented:   

“If you’ve experienced the infuriation of a patchy broadband signal when you need it the most you are not alone, with well over half of the population suffering outages or slower internet speeds at least once a month. Poor connectivity is clearly a UK-wide problem which undermines the government’s goal for all households to have access to Superfast Broadband.

“Too many customers suffer in silence, perhaps unaware that they could be missing out on compensation for poor connectivity. Switching broadband provider is one way to signal unhappiness with poor service, and could save you money every month, as the most attractive deals tend to be offered to new customers.”

Survey carried out by Populus, a total of 2,068 UK adults. Research carried out 10-13th January 2020.

*Taken as a percentage of the UK adult population, according to the Office for National Statistics, Mid- 2018:2019 LA Boundaries.

Q2, P3 Populus Broadband Issues Survey – 63% have experienced issues with their broadband
Current UK adult population = 52,383,965
63% of 52, 383, 965 = 33,001,898 OR over 33 million

**Following firms signed up to Ofcom Automatic Compensation Scheme
BT (joined 1 April 2019)
Hyperoptic (joined 28 October 2019)
Sky (including NOW Broadband) (joined 1 April 2019)
TalkTalk (joined 1 April 2019)
Virgin Media (joined 1 April 2019)
Zen Internet (joined 1 April 2019)

Providers not part of the scheme include Plusnet and EE.

Notes to editors:

About comparethemarket.com

comparethemarket.com was launched in 2006 and has grown rapidly over the past thirteen years to become one of the UK’s leading price comparison websites.

comparethemarket.com provides customers with an easy way to make the right choice for them on a wide range of products including motor, home, life, travel and pet insurance as well as utilities and money products such as credit cards and loans.

comparethemarket.com actively works with its brand partners to help provide great services to customers.

comparethemarket.com and comparethemeerkat.com are trading names of Compare The Market Limited. Compare The Market Limited is an insurance intermediary, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Firm Reference Number 778488).