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Best and worst broadband providers 2020

Best and worst broadband providers 2020

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Last updated: 16 June 2021

Thousands of customers complain about their broadband provider every year, with issues ranging from connection problems to unexpected price hikes. However, some providers perform better than others in terms of the volume of complaints they receive, and knowing which companies are the worst culprits can help you make an informed decision about your next provider.
Ofcom’s annual customer service report looks at how the major broadband providers in the UK perform each year on factors such as customer satisfaction and complaints handling. The market regulator gives an independent report into what levels of customer service phone and broadband customers can expect. 
Read on to find out who were the country’s best and worst broadband providers in 2020.

How are broadband providers ranked?

Every year, industry regulator Ofcom collects a survey of overall broadband customer satisfaction, including satisfaction with customer service, satisfaction with complaints handling, and average call waiting times.

Remember that the ranking only provides a snapshot into the happiness of customers for each provider. It does not necessarily relate directly to how good their broadband service is, but it can indicate when a provider is having more issues than normal.

You must also remember that the complaints per 100,000 customers only shows you the number of customers who were so unhappy that they escalated their complaint to the regulator (direct complaints to the provider are not included). In reality, there may actually be far more unhappy customers than this data suggests.

These rankings do not mean you should necessarily switch broadband provider either. You may find that you have had no problems with your broadband service, but your provider is ranked unfavourably by Ofcom. As long as you’re happy then there is probably no need to switch!

Who were the best broadband providers in 2020?

Here we will look at which providers performed best in each category of Ocfom’s latest customer satisfaction survey:

Satisfaction with service overall

The best broadband provider in 2020 in terms of overall customer satisfaction was EE with a score of 82%. This is slightly higher than the UK average of 80%, while the second best provider for this category was Plusnet, with a score of 81%.

However, both EE and Plusnet scored less in this category than last year, when 88% and 93% of their customers were satisfied with their service respectively. In fact, every provider in the survey fared worse in 2020 than 2019, with the average score dropping from 85%. 

Satisfaction with speed of service

82% of Virgin Media customers were happy with their broadband speeds in 2020, making them the best provider in this category, edging out BT and Sky who both received a score of 80%. The UK average was slightly lower at 79%.

Overall, broadband customers were slightly less satisfied with their speeds in 2020 than 2019, with the average satisfaction score dropping from 82%. Virgin Media also dropped slightly from 85% the previous year, although EE fared even worse, dropping from the joint-high of 85% in 2019 to a below-average score of just 78% in 2020.

Customers with a reason to complain

BT had the lowest number of customers with a reason to complain about their broadband service, with just 23% feeling the need to do so. Plusnet, Sky, and TalkTalk all performed almost as well, scoring 24% each. The UK average was 26%.

Again, broadband providers performed a lot worse in this category compared to the previous year. In 2019, just 12% of broadband customers felt the need to complain on average, with just 10% of BT customers complaining. 

Overall satisfaction with complaint handling

When it comes to customers’ complaints being handled effectively and efficiently, Sky customers were the most satisfied at 59%. This is significantly higher than the UK average of 52% of customers who were satisfied with their provider’s response. BT also performed well in this category, with 55% of its customers left satisfied.

With the average score the previous year being 53%, this category follows the overall trend of a drop-off in customer service and satisfaction in 2020. However, the biggest drop-off was seen in EE, who went from having 66% of its customers satisfied with complaint handling to just 47% in 2020. 

Ofcom complaints per 100,000 subscribers

Overall, EE had the lowest proportion of its customers making a complaint to Ofcom at just 20 complaints per 100,000 subscribers. This is less than half of the UK average of 50 per 100,000. However, Sky performed almost as well in this category, with just 23 complaints per 100,000 customers.

This is the only category in which the average score actually improved between 2019 and 2020. The average in 2019 was slightly higher at 52 complaints per 100,000 customers. However, the proportion of EE customers making a complaint to the regulator was consistent across both years.

Average call waiting time

EE again came out on top in this category, with an impressive average call waiting time of just 1 minute and 15 seconds, far below the UK average of 4 minutes and 9 seconds. TalkTalk ranks a close second with average waiting times of just 1 minute and 46 seconds, while the Post Office customers also had to wait less than two minutes on average.

However, average call waiting times increased significantly in 2020 compared to 2019, when the average waiting time on the phone was just 2 minutes and 10 seconds, and EE, BT and KCOM all had average waiting times of under a minute. 

Who were the worst broadband providers in 2020?

Looking at the same data, let’s take a look at which broadband providers performed worst for each category:

Satisfaction with service overall

Out of the major providers in the UK, TalkTalk had the lowest number of customers satisfied with their overall service at just 77%. This is significantly lower than other major providers who all scored at least the UK average of 80%.

Satisfaction with speed of service

TalkTalk customers were also the least satisfied with the speed of their service, with just 71% saying they were happy with the download speeds they were getting. This is a fair bit lower than the nationwide average of 79%, while Plusnet also performed below-average, with 75% of their customers satisfied with their broadband speed.

Customers with a reason to complain

Vodafone had the highest number of customers with a reason to complain at 32%, above the UK average of 26%. EE and Virgin Media also had a higher-than-average number of customers with a reason to complain, at 30% and 29% respectively.

Overall satisfaction with complaint handling

EE, Plusnet, and TalkTalk customers were the least satisfied with their provider’s complaints handling at just 47% each, well below the UK average of 52%. However, Virgin Media didn’t fare much better, leaving just 48% of customers satisfied after complaining.

Ofcom complaints per 100,000 subscribers

At 103 complaints per 100,000 subscribers forwarded to Ofcom, Vodafone ranked worst in this regard, and was well above the UK average of 50 complaints per 100,000. TalkTalk also performed quite badly here, with 81 complaints per 100,000 customers.

Average call waiting time

Virgin Media customers had to endure the longest call waiting times by far out of the major broadband providers, with an average waiting time of 7 minutes and 40 seconds. This is almost double the UK average of 4 minutes and 9 seconds. Vodafone customers also had to put with above-average call waiting times at 3 minutes and 25 seconds.

Broadband customer service table

Category BT Broadband EE Broadband Plusnet Broadband Post Office Broadband Sky Broadband TalkTalk Broadband Virgin Media Broadband Vodafone Broadband UK Average
Satisfaction with overall service 80% 82% 81% N/A 80% 77% 80% N/A 80%
Satisfaction with speed of service 80% 78% 75% N/A 80% 71% 82% N/A 79%
Customers with a reason to complain 23% 30% 24% N/A 24% 24% 29% 32% 26%
Overall satisfaction with complaint handling 55% 47% 47% N/A 59% 47% 48% N/A 52%
Ofcom complaints per 100,000 subscribers 50 20 69 61 23 81 69 103 50
Average call waiting time (mm:ss) 3:28 1:15 4:52 1:59 3:21 1:46 7:40 3:25 4:09

So, who is the best and who is the worst broadband provider overall?

Overall, it’s hard to categorically say which broadband provider can be considered the best, as there are so many different factors at play, and customers will have different priorities depending on their needs. For a more in-depth analysis of Ofcom’s latest customer satisfaction survey, you can read their report here.

Danny Lord

Author: Danny Lord

Danny is our Editor-in-Chief, and has been writing news and guides for comparison sites for the last five years.