/ Technology

Flawedband: are you happy with your broadband service?


Our latest research shows over half of households have had a problem with their broadband service in the last year alone. Are you one of them?

I’m sure like many of our Convo readers, I am quite good at taking action when I’m unhappy with a product or service. I switched mobile provider last year; I recently convinced my parents to switch broadband provider; I challenge my gym when my experience doesn’t live up to my expectations (having my spin class cancelled on the day one week did not make me happy!).

And yet there are still many examples where I accept poor service. Things pass me by, or I just accept as the status quo. And for many broadband customers, this seems to be the same.


Our latest broadband satisfaction survey found that more than half of Britain’s households have experienced a problem with their broadband provider in the last year. As with all of our surveys, experiences varied across providers but even the lowest score still showed a quarter of customers experiencing problems.

The top complaint was price increases, affecting one in five.

Slow speeds was the second biggest problem, with frequent connection drop outs and problems with routers following respectively.

It’s a positive that automatic compensation will come into force next year with 90% of the broadband market committing to doing it. But even then, compensation will apply only to three areas (slow repairs, missed appointments and delayed installations) that don’t appear in our top four list of problems.

Automatic compensation is certainly a welcome step, and something we at Which? have campaigned for, but ultimately we want the service to improve in the first instance.

Communication failure

With over half of people experiencing problems, I’m sure many do take action with their provider, but it has to be the case that many more don’t.

I think that often consumers are confused about what they can do, they don’t understand what the problem is, and they get frustrated with slow or no customer service to fix it. Furthermore, they don’t understand when they can and should negotiate on price. (Want to know more? Check out our advice on haggling for the best deal.)

Are you surprised at the results? What grumbles do you have with your broadband service and have you managed to have them addressed by your provider? And what can be done to stop more than half of households having problems?

Which? surveyed 1,901 telecoms customers in Dec 2017 to Jan 2018. We require a minimum of 30 responses to give a rating or score on any particular measure. Broadband customers were asked: ‘Thinking about the last 12 months (i.e. since December 2016), which, if any, of the following problems have you experienced with your broadband?’.


I have had Sky unlimited broadband for 7 years, but it is getting slower and slower and is now on occasion proving quite problematic with skype and browsing, I regularly clear my cache, and delete unecessary files in disk clean up, but I guess the local infrastructure is just overloaded. I am toying with the idea of fibre but I am told it is simply not performing as promised in my area.

I left sky a long long time ago, never regretted a second

Hello everyone and welcome to Which? Conversation to all the new commenters. As a reminder, if you’d like to follow a particular discussion (comments and replies) you can register to get email notifications. You can do this by clicking to ‘follow this conversation by email’ in the commenting box. This will send you email notifications when you get a reply, or a new comment appears on this discussion.

Please do register to join Which? Conversation too – it’s free and it’s easy to do. Just click Sign in/Register at the top of the page and click the ‘Register’ tab. Fill out the boxes and click the ‘Register’ button. You’ll be sent a confirmation email with a link to activate your account – click on the link in your email and you’re all done. When you add a comment to any conversation you’ll be asked if you’d like to register. Since you’ve given us a name an email address when adding your comment all you have to do is give us a password.

Please do let me know if you have any questions.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

My broadband occasionally drops out and slows down at peak periods. It is usually slow to connect.

When I see a BT van in the neighbourhood I expect to get problems with my broadband, either speed reduction or frequent drop-outs.
I have twice found the problem to be new WiFi signals on the same frequency and channel as my router, and stronger, causing drop-outs. This could be avoided when setting up new customers. Apparently all routers as delivered broadcast on the same frequency and channel.
I have also experienced slowed speeds, which may have been a loading problem or poor connections. These have improved when I complained to the supplier.
Poor quality and training of office and field staff and a general indifference in relation to clients seems the norm and leads to avoidable dissatisfaction.

I’d call it Fraudband. BT charge my village the same as central London yet some get <1 MB . After months and months of asking they are saying we are not viable for FTTP. Not one penny of the £1 billion given by the government has been spent here. We have an alternative with Village Networks that offer a microwave line of sight service which is unreliable and the company doesn't exist on any of the surveys I've seen so we cannot comment on them. There is a possibility that a company called Voneus will come to the rescue using similar technology and offer 50/50 Dl/UL abilities but we will see . This company also does not appear any WHICH? surveys. I feel like the ISP's have been stealing from me for years with their outrageous claims and protective formal contracts that hold them responsible for nothing !!

If I did this in my business I would be locked up. Its fraud band for sure!!!

This comment was removed at the request of the user

http://www.vnworks.net/ Village Networks seems to operate in Buckinghamshire.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I found that weather affected SKY a hell of a lot, no problem with cable.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

it was the standard wall mounted dish. It may have changed since back then but whenever it was windy, the tv screen would pixilate. hen moved to VM and all is great.

Had many problems with BT for the last five years, constantly breaking down when doing research on line. I know everyone says change your provider, but I live in a village of 56 properties BT have the monopoly with the infrastructure, I have tried other providers who have refused to take me on, because BT own all the telephone lines. Yesterday I telephoned BT spoke to a very nice lady, I told her that BT are breaking their contract with me because I never get the 17 MGs am lucky to get 10 MGs on a good day, also the constant break downs, I have asked for a discount or a price reduction both were refused, because I have taken out a 18 month contract with them at Christmas. All I get from BT is to upgrade, but can BT guarantee the faster speeds and most important no break downs!!! All I want is a service that I am paying for, is this too much to ask for.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Sorry to hear about your liabilities. Everyone should have 100% irrespective of locality

I finally subscribed to the internet in September 2013, via BT. In late March 2014 it appeared that my landline phone stopped working. I bought a new phone but it appeared not to work. A friend brought / lent a working telephone: that did not work either, proving that there was a fault with the line, not the equipment. I reported the fault online on 28 April 2014 and received a confirmation email stating “I’ve tested your line and I think there’s a problem on our network just outside your home. I’m sorry about that – I’ve passed the fault to our engineers to look into straight away. They should fix it by the end of the day on 01/05/2014 17:00:00. At the moment, it looks like they won’t need to get into to your home – but if that changes, we’ll be in touch to arrange it. The visit will be completely free – unless the engineer finds our network has been damaged inside or outside your home but within the boundary of your property. If that happens the visit will cost £129.99” A few days later I checked progress via BT’s online fault-tracking service. My fault report had disappeared / been removed. I reported the fault again, and added that the original fault report had disappeared / been removed. A few days later I re-checked the fault-tracking service – all details had disappeared / been removed too!

At the end of January 2018 a friend reported the fault on my behalf. I received a confirmation email and a further email stating that it would take BT longer than expected to repair the fault. Then I received an email stating that “Everything should be working okay now”. It is not. My landline still does not work. I do not own a mobile phone and never have.

I have now been without a landline for over FOUR YEARS. No access to emergency 999 services. Unable to speak with an elderly relative nearing the end of their life. Unable to receive a satisfactory service from BT. All of this is extremely depressing. I am in complete and utter despair.

Have you complained in writing to them? If so pass it on to the ombudsman.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I’m with EE paying for fibre plus yet the maximum download speed we get is 672kbps.
EE couldn’t care less. It only works in the living room of our 2 up 2 down house and it cuts out if the landline rings.
Been like this since day dot but I’m told I have to pay if I want an engineer to come out.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

they offer the earth and beyond to get customers then sit back and count the notes. Nobody in the country can compete with Virgin at present. The rest is up to you – you really do get what you pay for. If a provider offers you broadband for a penny a day – you only get a penny a day. I pay now around £100 a month for Broadband, cable tv, incl a TiVo 500-800GB recorder – I don’t watch ‘live’ tv anymore), landline and 2 x mobiles. I get what I pay for. Hundred or more tv channels, Discovery tv, footy and loads more. Broadband 350MB+ (I have measured it at 390 at one stage). 22+ upload, a vast improvement on the old 12 mbs.) I play online games almost daily when relaxing with no speed falloff problems. I may appear to be getting ‘paid’ by VM, for my comments but I am not. There are two things about virgin I do hate though. Their damned website in virtually unnavigable, if I want direct chat with a tech, I spend an hour looking for it. That’s one thing. When you find the problem that you are experiencing – you just get a page of Frequently Asked Questions. THe other thing I have mentioned elsewhere – ringing a robot who does not give you options for what you may want, and there are 3-4 different menu’s to go through. Option 1 should be: speak to a human, an Englishman, from VM – which I eventually get 90% of the time. So their call centres are obviously UK based.

The rest is up to you – what do you really want?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

We started having drop-out problems with Sky fibre yesterday.

We have just spoken to Sky customer services who couldn’t be more helpful. An engineer is being sent out tomorrow morning.

You can’t get better service than that, so all those having problems just give them a friendly call instead of just moaning about them.

My ISP was extremely helpful in helping to diagnose a problem that took me over my monthly download limit. I was called back a couple of times. Unfortunately I have a billing problem that has not been resolved after two friendly calls. I will make one more and if that does not resolve the problem I will make a complaint, but in doing so, I will make a few compliments about other aspects of the service.

We all get problems occasionally, the important aspect is the customer service and how they deal with those problems.

Some customer service is better than others, but Sky have improved immensely in the last few years as there was a time I dreaded calling them.

I hope you resolve your billing problem wavechange, if not go higher…

Thanks Alfa. I hope that the Sky engineer sorts out your problem too. It’s good to recognise when service does improve.

Openreach engineer has been, hopefully sorted out, download speed now 38.24Mbps.

I call that excellent service all round. 👍🏻

Well done Alfa. I’m giving my ISP a full week to listen to the recording of what was agreed by phone and call me back as they have promised to do. If they fail to do so then it will strengthen my case. 🙂

yours = times x 10 for me. I was on 30 -35 back in the day of the internet beginning to blossom, in the 90s.

Good customer must be the first choice for everyone but sadly price is first for many including organisations that give advice

Unfortunately, the repairs didn’t last and we now have more drop-outs than before with upload speed down to 18Mbps.

It has been escalated to a specialist technician coming on Friday. Let’s hope it doesn’t drop out permanently before then.

Yours sorted wavechange?

I’m sorry to hear you are still having problems, Alfa. You reminded me to call my ISP because the person I spoke to had failed to call me back as promised, even though I had given them plenty of time to do so.

I have now spoken to someone who has pointed out that I have gone over my data allowance for a second time, which is why I’m faced with a bill for £87.82. 🙁 I had been monitoring my usage and assumed that I was just below the data limit, but the online information is obviously not updated as frequently as I had imagined.

The good news is that I allowed my laptop to do another update and this immediately put an end to the cyclic downloading of large amounts of data from Apple. Hopefully this will never happen again.

That is some charge for going over your allowance wavechange.

Do you have a friend on unlimited who wouldn’t mind you using their internet for doing your updates? Some of them can be quite massive.

It certainly is. The figure I quoted includes the monthly tariff.

The problem is resolved and I expect to use only a fraction of my data allowance at the end of this month. I invite a friend who has a rotten broadband service to come round and update her laptop using my fast connection. While I was having problems I temporarily suspended the offer. At least the technical support guys at my ISP were able to pinpoint the problem as a regular download from Apple and it looks like the update was stuck in a loop.

Having intermittent internet for the last 10 days with drop-outs getting longer, then no landline or internet for most of the morning, I take back most of the nice things I said about Sky.

The ‘specialist’ technician came early Friday looked at our router, said he would book Openreach and was gone in 5 minutes.

Friday afternoon I called Sky to find Openreach had not been booked. Customer services would not book an appointment, only tell me the problem would be looked at sometime in the next 5 days.

Called Sky again this morning who could tell me the job had not been allocated yet but now call the fault a phone line fault so that will be looked at first….sometime in the next 5 days, then they will look at the broadband fault sometime in the next 5 days….

That’s the bang-your-head-against-a-brick-wall Sky I thought was now a distant memory. And they started so well !!!

We are back again for ……. who knows? Speed is not back to normal and nobody has contacted us to say problem fixed, so left in limbo.


This comment was removed at the request of the user

Although that is the logical approach Duncan, a possible up to 5 days for each problem is not acceptable.
I suspect the problem has something to do with all the rain we have had that is fast drying out, so might only appear to be sorted out.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

My son was on holiday in the Scottish Borders when I was rushed into hospital for 2 days recently with a sudden dangerously high blood pressure spike, but all attempts to contact him on his mobile phone were unsuccessful due to a constant “no network connection” message showing on my mobile. He had no knowledge of my predicament until he contacted me on his way back home and I had been discharged, thankfully still intact both physically and mentally.

I’ve been with Hyperoptic for a few years now. Generally pretty good, no major outtages that I’ve experiened yet. Perhaps just a day or two.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I’m with utility warehouse. Was satisfied with their service standard until around the last 18-19 months. Since then, I’ve had regular connection problems, slow Broadband speeds, Internet going on and off unpredictably that I’m thinking seriously of changing my provider even though there are a few fringe benefits with UW – that’s why I stayed with them.
If it’s not going to be too much hassle as I’m very busy at present, I may soon look into what other Broadband providers have to offer.

The problems will lie with BT and Open Reach not your provider as mine were a problem at the exchange maybe thankfully sorted quickly by Zen Your provider provides your service but BT have to get it to you

Keith says:
6 April 2018

With BT on fibre network, was problematical, but had settled down, until last evening (5/4/2018) when we were Facetiming, the broadband connection dropped out twice.

Andy says:
7 April 2018

I’m with talk talk, which has not been too bad, but….the last 7 months, the speed seems to fluctuate, which is annoying if watching Netflix, or trying to get work done! Also have problems with the strength of signal around the house, sometimes it’s good, but sometimes won’t pickup and I lose the signal!! Not sure how to get a steady strength, anybody any ideas? Would a bigger router solve the problem? Recommendations appreciated!

Broadband was not set up for you to watch Netflix on that’s one of the problems

Andy, intermittent wifi can be down to one or more of the following causes:

Problems with your router [I find that rebooting may sometimes help. If all possible, position the router near to the center of your home]

Problems with your wifi devices (PC’s, phones, etc….) [I find that rebooting may sometimes help]

Interference from other nearby electrical items (yours [I find that switching off or scrapping non-essential items may sometimes help] and/or your neighbors)

Too many other local households also using wifi [moving house, to a less congested area might help…]

At my old house, I used to suffer from some or all of the above problems, but I’ve been luckier at my current house, where I suffer hardly any problems.

PS – I don’t actually need wifi for my Netflix, because I can run an ethernet cable between my router and my DVD player, which has a Netflix app.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Duncan, are you saying that Netflix uses more bandwidth over wifi than over ethernet? Or just a non trivial amount of bandwidth?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I would have thought the good old RJ45 cable was faster the wireless. I asked a nearby engineer which was best, he said always plug in a cable.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Duncan – surely whether or wifi reduces speed is a matter of Engineering not Science.

If I had slow broadband but fast wifi then I’d not expect to see a significant difference.

On the other hand, if I had fast broadband but slow wifi then I would.

Here in slightly rainy Gloucester, I have about 10Mbps courtesy of PlusNet and a router that’s so old old that it only does “Wireless G” speeds, but the two seem to work well together. This service certainly works OK for my single use of Netflix. Luckily, I if want more speed I could just change to Virgin, as they “pre-wired” the close when these houses were build 7 years ago. [Sooner or later, I think PlusNet’s annual price rises will trigger that.]

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Duncan, that was my point exactly.

Pure Science tells us nothing about how broadband can function.

As I see it, the latter falls under Engineering. Whilst the knowledge and understanding of aspects of physical sciences and mathematics may be involved, I think those aspects are really a given in any form of Engineering.

Hence, both here and in general, there’s really no need for the “Engineering Science” tag, if we are only only referring to what qualified communications Engineers can do.

As a highly mathematical Engineer, I also object to the inference that anyone skilled in mathematics must be some kind of scientist, as opposed to a “proper Engineer”.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Previously I have spoken about the lack of services in the Cornwall area and suggested a wireless system. I am not an engineer, not a physics professor either, just a joe grunt who does not understand the scientific principles involved. And I did state ‘but better in some areas I presume’ – I could have said ‘better than nothing’. No big deal. Yes I am guilty of speed reading on occasion.

PlusNet have given us good customer service for a reasonable tariff for many years; but the problem we have is with the BT Openreach network that they use. Our village is still only able to get between 3Mb to 8Mb download speed, and a ridiculous 0.8Mb upload speed (consider how much content ordinary people now feed up to the Internet these days, eg: photo galleries, video blogs etc), even though we are only 1.5 miles from a major trunk road, and only 10 miles out of Preston. This is because BT will not bring fibre into our village, but instead tries to sell ‘Superfast Fibre Broadband’ from a cabinet that is 2km away – the attenuation of the signal down the copper wire over that distance means there is NO benefit from having fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC). We recently stayed in a remote chalet in northern Sweden where the speed was 55Mb down and 16Mb up. In the Arctic town of Umeå, where we stayed briefly, everyone has Internet download speeds exceeding 100Mb. The UK is a 3rd-World country when it comes to Internet connectivity! I think the Which? campaign should be about forcing ISPs to bring us fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) or else offering high-speed microwave links at a reasonable price.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

In the last months we have had BT Openreach engineers visiting the Walton, Liverpool area and after each visit there has been a notable drop off in EE ADSL connectivity?
Connection to a throttling back of Broadband connectivity?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

100 is ultra high speed??? Snails pace hahaha!! But better in some areas I assume.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Heather says:
8 April 2018

I have been a BT customer for 40 years & shareholder for around 32 years, my first port of call for broadband is BT. However I have not been treated as a loyal customer but as an idiot in my dealings with BT staff & I wish I could say my problems have been resolved as they have not. I have had 32mb speeds at first installation in 2011, then it was gradually reduced and problems started. The BT hotspot had better speed than my own home, it didn’t make sense.engineers have been out and told me that the box is in wrong place? Even though it was BT who surveyed and installed box in first place for optimum signal around my small house. They have said I need to upgrade router on several occasions which I have done at cost to me. The lasts router change I bought my own so that BT could not access. Drop outs are frequent, my Apple TV often freezes, my sonos just stops mid track, it’s 2018 now and things are worse now than when I first had infinity installed. I live on my own and don’t download films or use Internet gaming. I am a light user and watch catch up to through Apple TV box, no sky. I have a sonos system, PC, laptop, kindle, iPad and phone but don’t use all at same time. I have a BT landline and a mobile phone with another provider for back up. My work laptop I tether through my work mobile phone and it works fine. I just want a steady state of accessible wifi in my home, why is that so difficult in 2018?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Caz says:
8 April 2018

My BT broadband drops out every so often and the speed is awfull, especially in bad weather!!

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Constantly dropping out, Netflix buffering. Told by BT 6-7Mbps as good as we’ll get. Basically take it or leave it. BT supply the line, no fibre, so no one else will be any faster.