/ Technology

Update: bad broadband? You’re not alone…

Bad broadband

A good broadband connection is a modern day essential. Yet the service many of us get simply isn’t good enough. Do you struggle with bad broadband?

I’m addicted to the internet. When my broadband goes down it becomes apparent how much my life relies on a good connection – whether its watching on-demand TV in the evening, streaming music, paying my bills, sorting my banking, shopping or maybe trawling holiday booking sites for a dream break.

Bad broadband

The fact is that more people now bank online than in branch, online shopping is becoming the norm, and streaming our favourite TV shows and movies has become a big part of our popular culture.

There’s nothing that annoys me more than settling down to watch a film and the internet cutting out. For no apparent reason.

In fact, thanks to my shoddy broadband I may never know what happens in the final scenes of JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which I rented last weekend. Annoyingly, my broadband dropped and the rental period ended before I had a chance to finish the film.

In this digital age you would expect broadband to be better than it is.

Connection problems

In rural and urban communities alike, people are let down by poor connections, dropouts and slow speeds.

Our latest research has found that six in ten people have experienced a problem with their broadband in the last year, and the majority of them are frustrated as a result.

Over a third of people who have experienced problems with their broadband have been completely stopped from carrying out their online activities, and some have even said that it has cost them money.

Providers draw us in with all-singing, all-dancing connections, yet many people aren’t getting the speeds they need.

Fix bad broadband

We want to build up a picture of the actual speeds and problems people are experiencing across UK, so we’ve created a new free speed checker for you to test your connection and compare your broadband speeds with others living in your area.

We also have tips and advice on how to improve your connection, and a free tool to help you to complain to your provider if you’re not happy.

In this digital age we should all be getting the broadband connections we need to keep up with modern life. By using our speed checker you will be helping us build a better picture of the speeds and the problems that people are actually experiencing across the UK, so that we can help everyone get better connected.

Update: 3 June 2017

The government has announced a £400m Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund to improve broadband connectivity across the UK.

This investment in the UK’s digital infrastructure is being touted as a fast-track to full fibre – it will seek to make internet access more reliable for homes and businesses with an overhaul of the UK’s fibre network.

To aid the delivery of the full-fibre network, it’s expected that the £400m fund will be matched by private investment and bring the total investment sum to £1bn.

Alex Neill, our Managing Director of Home Products and Services, said:

‘Our research shows that too many consumers across the country still struggle with slow broadband speeds, finding it hard to carry out even the simplest of tasks, such as online banking and shopping. This investment will offer a much-needed boost to upgrade our national broadband network.

‘The industry must now press on with installing full fibre swiftly in communities across the country so that consumers get faster, more reliable broadband.’

Have you used our speed checker? What speed did you get?

D,Johnson says:
12 April 2017

the first two of your tests went ok but the upload speed refuse to start and eventually came up with a correction saying that it was unable to make a connection.

hugh says:
13 April 2017

didnt work

paul blurton says:
12 April 2017

Speed 19.7, same provider quotes 60 for my area.
19.7, often connection is measured in seconds and speed can reach zero.


I ran your speed checker. Compared to the ‘ThinkBroadband’ checker which I use regularly it was somewhat optimistic about my download speed (saying 1.5Mb/s against ThinkBroadband’s 1.0), and off the map with the upload, claiming 8Mb/s (yes, really) when all I’ve ever had is 0.35Mb/s.

Much also depends on whether you measure average or burst speed, and the number of simultaneous connections checked. Testing a single download, such as when streaming video, shows slower speeds than when testing with multiple downloads.

Antony Ruth says:
12 April 2017

Tried three times to test my sped using your link – nothing happened.

Speedtest – an iphone app tells me it’s 8.20 download and 0.32 upload. I’m in central London where Plusnet promises me ‘up to’ 16mbps and yet I get nothing like it.

To maintain this level of ‘service’ my router has to be connected 24/7 ,costing an additional £30 p.a. or BT will reduce my speeds to virtually nil.

This wasteful practice would be a significant contribution to the national grid if BT modified their technology so that the internet could was available when the customer wanted to use it. Advertised speed rates that are never available – what a con!

Thanks to all you NGO’s for your continued support!


Antony as you seem up to spec with why you need a router on 24/7 thats okay but many viewers wont know and get the wrong impression , so for them. A router on power up checks the connection , it continues to do so over several days to see if that connection is free of faults , it tests the line for the maximum speed available and that sets the exchange equipment speed . If you keep on plugging it in and unplugging it it will keep on having to check out the line for several days and while it does so you will never get it to operate at the full speed . To use the power consumption of a router as an excuse to hit BT with is ludicrous , do you know how much it consumes Antony ?? approx SIX watts -current- approx 30 milliamps less than many small LED spots .


As advised by PlusNet, my router stays on 24/7. My fridge freezer and combi boiler are also on 24/7 – they dominate my baseload power consumption. Relative to those devices, the power taken by my router is negligible in comparison.

Terry Lyne says:
12 April 2017

I am lucky enough to live in rural Suffolk where my sub 1MBPS broadband has been replaced with fibre to the home (FTTP) with a quoted speed 300Mbps download. I regularly measure download speeds of just under this with a ping time of a few milliseconds using speedtest.net.
When I use the Which speed test I get pings just under 100ms and a download speed of about 80Mbps.
How can you complain that service providers are not living up to their claims when you appear to be using a totally inadequate measuring system?


The ‘Which Speed Checker’ shows 7.7 mbps d/l and 3.7 mbps u/l. That’s a good result considering I’m 3km from the exchange which probably equates to around 3.5km of copper and attenuation charts for ADSL2 indicate that I might expect 5.5 mbps: http://www.increasebroadbandspeed.co.uk/tip3
I’m actually running test from desktop PC in an outbuilding some 50m from the hub; given that I don’t propose to dig up the yard to run Ethernet I’m using powerline adapters and run Ethernet between PC and nearest p/l adapter (which is inevitably faster than Wi-Fi). The fact that I’ve replaced the ISP-supplied hub with a high end 3rd party hub helped to increase link speed.
Attenuation tables for FTTC confirm what Duncan has already stated – given that I’m almost as far from the nearest cabinet as the exchange there would be no benefit in my switching to fibre based on current local infrastructure (which is why my ISP doesn’t offer it). I’m actually in one of the small percentage of premises still on EO (exchange only) lines…which actually tends to be somewhat faster than being routed through a distant cabinet.
Although I’d like fibre when it’s available (and DSL checker shows I’m due to receive the faster FTTP as opposed to the normal FTTC) the current connection is not that limiting. Downloading a linux distro of around 1.2 Gb takes around 20 minutes and it’s not a problem to switch to another task while d/l proceeds. With regard to ‘Catch-up TV’ even in HD download is much faster than real time viewing thus it’s only necessary to wait around 15 seconds to start viewing. In case of iPlayer buffering can often be avoided by using the option ‘download to watch later’, do something else for a few minutes then the whole program can be watched / listened to uninterrupted.
It’s simply unrealistic to expect that every premises can be connected to fibre in a short time frame (or for remote premises maybe at all). That’s not what some of the politicians here in Scotland are telling us but, at some point, they will start to appreciate that the laws of diminishing returns also apply to fibre and the economics don’t stack up. As for remote premises Fealar Lodge springs to mind as a classic example of where fibre is unviable…and the same applies to lots of other properties which are far less remote.

eve studd says:
12 April 2017

I don’t need to do your test, we check our speed frequently and despite talktalk saying they were making improvements its got worse , about 1.74 down from about 3 before. We run our business from home. We complained but it made no difference. No one cares and no one does anything. Why should they? We have to pay what they charge, there is little competition here on the Scottish border as if you live a distance from the exchange you get charged extra over the headline cheap deals.

Keith Percival says:
13 April 2017

Despite living in a close in Solihull, West Midlands, Virgin put fibre cable along the pavement for each house to connect if wanted.
The speed test shows 223.4Mb download (no, I’ve not got the full stop in the wrong place!) and 25.5 upload.
However, to even things up, I cannot get a mobile phone signal downstairs in the house.

John WHITEHEAD says:
13 April 2017

We are rural Wales. We are 1.5 miles from exchange with 1.2miles to open reach yard. Fibre arrived within 200m over 4 years ago. No chance for us. The Welsh Assembly scheme would see us paying over £300 per month for a unlimited down load. No chance of fibre. We struggle with drops below 2 m regularly. Had 2 engineers on site for 5 hours a few years ago. Last few months of intermittent 12…..6 average….less than 2meg resulted in another Open Reach engineer to help solve our intermittent fault. BEWARE. when no fault was found we had to pay over £150 to co op our supplier,,,,, it then took over 4 months and the start of a ofcom complaint to get refund.

Ted Thompson says:
14 April 2017

On 8th Feb I applied for fibre optic; appointments on 17th and 28th Feb; noting happened and I found out that it had been cancelled without informing me. Re-applied on 17th March. External line fitted 31st March, internal boxes etc fitted on 3rd April. On-line for about 12 hours then failed. Visits by three different engineers and several hours spent (mostly on hold) reporting fault. Still no connection today (14th April) ie after 11 days. today I managed to reconnect to the copper but with very slow speeds (Download 2.5 Mbps)
Incidentally I have been charged twice for the connection.