Price hikes, slow broadband speeds, routinely dropped connections and router issues are leaving three-fifths of UK households dissatisfied with their Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
A survey published by Which? earlier this year suggested that the UK’s broadband system, which mostly runs across copper telephone wires, is struggling to cope with the volume of demand for high quality, high speed service nationwide.
Which? assesse the consumer experience of 12 of the biggest UK home broadband ISPs, and found that a clear majority of 57 per cent of customers were ‘unhappy’ with the service provided.
For the 7,026 customers surveyed, the biggest providers were also the most complained about. BT, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk and the Post Office received many less than favourable reports. Virgin Media came under the heaviest fire from consumers.
Almost half of Virgin Media customers complained about the cost increases. The company has hit subscribers over the past year with broadband, phone and TV service price hikes.
Virgin’s top Hub 3.0 has also disappointed consumers with its ‘latency flaw’ - the delay before a transfer of data begins following an instruction for its transfer – also known as lag. 21% of consumers complained about router problems, and 16% of consumers reported connection drop outs.
Ofgem had previously judged Virgin to have the highest customer satisfaction levels of all UK broadband and telephone service providers. Virgin called the results of the survey ‘surprising’, given that Ofcom’s independent complaints statistics suggest that Virgin Media, alongside Sky Broadband and EE may actually receive proportionally fewer complaints than other providers.
Sky also came under fire, with three-fifths of its customers claiming to be ‘unhappy’ with the service they received. As with Virgin, the recent price hikes were the most commonly reported problem.
2/3 of TalkTalk’s customers reported problems, most commonly relating to ‘very slow download speeds’.
While smaller providers generally performed better, companies such as Zen Internet, which was the least criticised of the 12, still saw a third of customers complain about slow speeds, router problems and frequent drop outs.
It is important to note that not all internet speed or router problems are specifically to do with the internet service provider. Poor wiring and local network congestion can both contribute to a poor user experience, but do not necessarily represent the quality of the ISP. The conflict between Ofcom’s statistics and this survey may reflect issues created by poor end-user configuration, or faulty set-up.
More significantly, Which? Observed that four-fifths of the surveyed customers had not changed their ISP in the last two years. This means that almost 80% of those surveyed could well be paying much more for the same service, as they are out of their minimum contract term. With price hikes affecting almost all Internet Service Providers, now is a wise time to consider changing.
You can save money, and potentially improve their broadband by simply switching providers, especially when your minimum contract has expired.
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