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What do you use your broadband for?

broadband uses

Latest Which? research has found that many people consider broadband to be an essential service. So what do you use yours for?

We asked 2,107 households with internet access how important broadband was to them, 90% said it was now more important than a mobile phone, a television or a running car.

It was only housing, energy, food and running water that were considered more important than broadband.

Essential broadband

Now I don’t know about you, but my broadband keeps me connected and on top of things – I enter energy readings online, check my bank balance, shop for groceries, do a bit of Christmas shopping here and there, connect with friends on social media, research my next holiday destinations and, of course, keep an eye on Which? Conversation.

So, it seems to me that without easy and reliable access to the internet, I’d really struggle.

I have to admit that when I moved house earlier this year, my broadband was one of the first things I got set up.

I transferred my existing account to my new address and was distinctly disappointed that, despite prior notice, I had to wait 3-4 days for the connection to kick in (3-4 days where I was, of course, still paying for it).

Even though I knew it was coming, it was still frustrating being without an internet connection. I needed to set up my council tax, change my address for my mobile phone provider and carry out various other bits and pieces of ‘life admin’.

Conducting such basic online tasks can be a real pain when you’re struggling to connect to the internet.

And I’m well aware that I’m not alone with my broadband troubles – according to our survey, 68% of households have experienced problems with their broadband connection.

We found that 35% of households have had broadband outages in the past 12 months, 36% have had slower speeds from a few minutes to a day, and 35% had slower speeds for a day or more.

When my broadband connection did finally kick in at my new place, I attempted to order a fridge – and, lo and behold, the connection kept dropping out.

The problem was that the connection dropped at the worst possible moment… when I was on the payment page. Trying to reconnect, I started to get a bit fearful of how many times I could have paid for this fridge and whether I’d cleared out my bank account… Thankfully, the payment only went through once!

Relying on broadband

Now my connection frustration was fairly limited, as its outage was only brief and there was no tangible impact on me.

But had that been a longer outage preventing me from, say, ordering a food shop, entering my energy readings or seeing my bank statement then I’m sure I’d have been a bit more irritated.

So, I’m curious to know: what do you use your broadband for and how do slower broadband, or connection outages affect you?


This whole debate centres round government action of forcing the public onto the Internet by limiting the means of communication between it and many government departments , even the latest move by the government of closing down many employment/DHSS offices where people are forced to go to and saying -do it by the Internet., This is amplified by many big companies with financial interest in saving money , just as the government is doing , its obvious to anybody with an ounce of gray matter up top that that forces up the issue of the telecommunications network . In other words the government KNEW this was going to happen and ,to me, the hidden agenda is selling off the network to BB which would be the USA via telecommunication companies existing in this country many of which are owned through shares by foreigners who are only interested in profit not the security of this country, not the keeping of an essential public utility in British hands , its just another sell off of the last of the sell-offs left in this country , large parts of this country are now owned by foreign off-shore companies and hidden billionaires , foreign banks etc . So its-stir up the public so that they get very angry and make it easy for HMG to force a sell -off but then we have the BT pension group to consider those buying wouldn’t want to pay for it and there is legislation AGREED with HMG to protect it. I know its not reached that type of stage just now but that is the future outcome a bit at a time keep the pressure on about this its not hard to figure out – okay then WHO PAYS ? How about the £32 Billion about to be spent in the Gulf area by our forces our money seems to have no restrictions when it comes to defence spending , this country complying with US demands on Europe of 2 % of the GDP , but who are the real payers , not the billionaires or Banks but YOU the British tax payer and certainly –the POOR via massive cuts in benefits who can suffer great hardship while those in Whitehall can trumpet we are a “strong martial nation ” but its on the backs of the ordinary person . Why doesnt this country wake up to reality about the present situation- who is going to pay for 100 % coverage of FTTP of the UK , and instead of shooting the messenger please give practical, down to earth SOLUTIONS to this , not just criticism of me.


I live in a city, so I would be able get by with just mobile broadband if only used broadband for things like posting on W?C and email.

I also have landline broadband that I can use for large s/w downloads (e.g. Linux distros) and streaming TV services (e.g. Youtube).

I agree with Duncan’s point about welfare services. For example, to claim Job Seekers Allowance, the system now expects that you will have internet access that you can use for regular vacancy searches and for submitting job applications.

Hence I think it is much more important for us to have adequate broadband for everyone in the UK than to have superfast broadband for a privileged majority.

bishbut says:
8 December 2016

I make use of Broadband for most thlngs ,, banking receiving online bills etc. but having lived most of my life before Broadband and other Tech things I would be able to manage quite well without it all,But thinking I proberbly wound not want to now But I could !!


Apart from a few incoming e-mails every day [most of which I could happily do without], the occasional dabble on Which? Conversation, catching up with the news, and some purchasing, meter readings, and internet banking, I hardly take advantage of the potential of broadband. I wouldn’t be completely lost without it but it certainly has made life much more convenient and saved a lot of travelling. Late last night I was ordering some timber and paint for a project and the ability to choose it, order it, pick a delivery date, and pay for it has probably saved half a day of getting the car out, putting the seats down, driving to a shed somewhere, wasting the usual amount of time in the process, and all the rest of it. That’s probably the most useful purpose for me. Some people complain that they seem to waste a lot of time on their computer but it’s probably a question of how you use it. There’s no doubt in my mind that overall it saves a lot of time and gives much greater flexibility over how we spend the time we have left on this earth. All that said, I would say my computer time is only 40% on-line, the rest being off-line use – correspondence, documentation and general admin [or sadmin as it is usually called in this house].


Interesting. Internet forms a major part of our life. From banking, to utilities, staying in contact, downloading the manuals no longer included by manufacturers, researching, ordering food, ordering goods and products, running forums, devising ever more fiendish ways to make spam emailers suffer, dealing with the variety of agencies – both governmental and business – that demand attention seemingly every day, maintaining the iCloud-based diary, printing Xmas card lists then printing the postage stamps – the list is pretty endless.

Where we live, however, we can guarantee the BB will be flakey after a night of heavy rain. That’s every time, too, not simply the odd occasion. Add in a bit of wind (not unusual in the mountains) and it’s back to ‘phoning BT to come and patch their ageing and rapidly deteriorating extension cabinets.

So it’s invaluable and that’s all without donwnloading and streaming, which I haven’t mentioned as that’s more the optional aspect. But BB is essential, now.

George Hamilton says:
16 December 2016

I aim to move to a reasonable distance from Glasgow (30 miles) and fast broadband (fibre) has been promised for two years now. There are MoD premises nearby and I hope that they do not need to use the old telephone wire system like the rest of us, because it drops out and slows down a lot.
By all means roll out superfast fibre, not in the cities who are well off already, but to all out in the rural parts of this lovely land. Encourage home working and reduce pressure on city transport systems.


George , if I said West Dunbartonshire/Argyle+Bute and the “base “begins with F would I be right ? Main town yes -fibre surrounding area no but BT has Special MOD wi-fi ( among other means ) . I dont think you have to worry about any “dropouts ” in MOD bases , been in some , no problem with telephonic/internet connections .Special Defense cables exist from Glasgow , ask no more .