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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?


We love a good sci-fi series on TV.

There is The Expanse only available on-line and there will soon be a new Star Trek series that will also only be available on-line.

As the UK must be the second largest audience for these types of TV series, does the US realise by restricting them to the internet they are consigning the programmes to be cancelled prematurely because of perceived lack of interest?

A vast number of UK households do not have internet capable of watching TV. On top of that, households who want better TV already pay astronomical fees to Sky satellite TV, or Virgin cable TV, so why would we want to pay more for internet TV?

The Expanse is hailed as Syfy’s biggest sci-fi series ever, so why is it restricted to Netflix and not on Syfy in the UK that we pay to watch?

If the producers of The Expanse and Star Trek read this, please make them available to everyone so they maybe get to run a few seasons.

The Expanse is very good, and there are several crowd-sourced Star Trek films also available through YouTube but, as you rightly point out, they’re all only through the internet.

Where we live we lose connectivity when it rains. And it rains a lot. Each time it happens I give BT a call and ask them to sort the problem out (one technician told me – informally – that it was down to the dreadful state of the boxes installed on the mountain). During the last call the chap to whom I was talking told me that some folk who live in cities are barely getting 0.5 mb, which makes me comparatively lucky, since we do get 7-8mb when the sun’s shining. But hey – technology for the 21st C, BT claims…

I hadn’t realised there were crowd-sourced films available, so thanks for that Ian. Star Trek: Renegades is available on YouTube but it might not be too watchable here.

We have a box down the road that can get flooded occasionally.

The internet might be the future, but it has a very long way to go before everyone can enjoy it to the full.

I agree completely. To find the ST films, go to the Atomic network on YT. They’re not at all bad, and two were written by Tim Russ, who also appears in them.

Michael P says:
5 April 2017

The sort of information Which? seems to be seeking is already available on ThinkBroadband in the left sidebar under Service Providers.

We were disconnected from our fibre broadband towards the end of January 2017 and told, due to a fault, we could either have the phone line or broadband. We chose the phone because we thought the broadband would be reconnected fairly soon – WE WERE WRONG – we complained to our Provider (Plusnet) who liaised with Open Reach, and we were promised that we would be reconnected on 25th January. This date came and went and still no connection. We were told there was a fibre fault and this was due to be fixed on 23rd February – this did not happen. It would then be fixed by 31st March – this also came and went and now are told it won’t be fixed until 28th April. Previously, we had a perfectly good service with a speed of around 28 Mhz. Despite Plusnet’s efforts to get Open Reach to sort this out, they have been unsuccessful and we have no idea where to go next. There seems to be no way that we, as individuals, can contact Open Reach directly. Any help would be appreciated – we’re desperate!

Mark says:
5 April 2017

Write to Gavin Patterson CEO at gavin.e.patterson@bt.com. You will get this problem escalated.

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My postcode is C10, PlusNet are trying their best, it is OPEN REACH that are the problem.

Thanks I will give it a try,

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We did this and the letter got sent back to PlusNet and added to the case number !!!

Gave you the wrong postcode = CO10. Checked and there was no general problem, we have a cabinet fault that needs some major work doing, they just seem unable to get it underway after giving two dates for its completion, what a shambles.

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Thank you for that info, they said something about a DSLAM, the fault happened about the same time they digging to the fibre cabinet a few yards away, maybe this was the cause ?

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There were no spare ports, hence the problems, PlusNet seem to be doing their best though.

Just had a reply from PlusNet as follows :-

“I’ve had an update, I’m afraid it isn’t great news though,

They have advised they are awaiting a re-shell of the Cab and until this is complete they cannot provide additional copper to fix/provide additional capacity.

Unfortunately we will need to wait the work to complete. I’m truly sorry about this.

This Question is now on hold until Friday 28th April at 7:00am.”

You can see why I am having a problem, I think the meter must be ticking as regards

If the DSLAM, copper cable or the cabinet have been damaged then it’s a major job to get them repaired. If any digging is required then Openreach need permission and may be waiting for that and for road and footpath closures to be authorised. (Health and safety issues for the general public).
If the cabinets need replacing then it’s a job that takes a few days, there can be up to 1600 individual phone lines in a single phone cabinet and believe it or not, most uplifts are done with the end user (customers) being out of service for less than 2 minutes.
I realise it can be frustrating waiting, Openreach do update notes on individual faults regularly, your’s may be linked to a ‘lead fault’ which your service provider cannot access (data protection), and most customer service reps don’t bother calling Openreach to chase issues, they just look at the information they can see and say “OR are dealing with it.”

Today 12:54

Broadband still out after 100 days, still no result from PlusNet as to when Openreach are going to fix this problem, a total shambles.

( I had put this on the wrong conversation)

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Latest fix is now 25th May, we shall see.

What sort of compensation would one get for being offline
125 days plus as the problem is a BT cabinet fault ?

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I am with PlusNet not BT does this change things?

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Finally got our fibre broadband back on Friday 9th of June after
being without it for around 141 days, seems there was a cable that
was damaged back in January and it has taken Openreach this long to sort it out, what a terrible service, nothing to do with dslams or anything else that they were claiming was the problem.

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They,Plusnet, have offered around £370 in refunds and advanced zero telephone and broadband costs for 11 months. I think this is about the best I can get without going through CISAS so am likely to accept. Would have been nice for Openreach to have
made a contribution for their failed efforts in repairing this fault.

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Michael P says:
5 April 2017

After reading this article and having commented regarding ThinkBroadband, I ran both the Which? and the ThinkBroadband speed tests on Wednesday 05Apr17 at 10 a.m. less that 5 minutes apart for my ADSL2+ service advertised at “up to” 17 Mbps. The results were:
Which? Latency 93ms, download 10.8 Mbps, upload 1.3Mbps
ThinkBB 33ms 4.57Mbps 0.8Mbps
The discrepancies are most interesting – and inexplicable.

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Michael P says:
5 April 2017

That’s interesting. Thank you. Maybe Which? should elaborate on this in the light of your comment. TBB use my home email address, not postal, for weekly news updates which I quite like but this is optional.

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A BT Infity user in a very rural location. Fortunatley I am close to a local exchange. The Which speed test revealed latemncy 103ms, download 34.6mps and upload 19.5mps. Interestingly I immediately followed this using the BT speed test on their website and got a download of 70.39mps and upload of 16.48mps. Phenominal difference in the download speed and I certainly do not belive the BT checker.
One issue for me is having faith in a company speed test facility, I am forced to at least suspect that a provider supplied test will be biased.

Michael P says:
5 April 2017

It would be interesting, therefore, to have a collection of speed tests from different testers to see how they stack up. So, indeed, whom do you trust?

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I’ve done the same check this morning and, if anything, the Which? speed test is overstating my speed compared to BT Wholesale speed checker. That is what my ISP requires me to use to check line speeds btw.

What is Which? actually proposing to do about this problem? Is this just a talking shop ?

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BEWARE! If you ever change you ISP, make damn sure you will get like for like fibre speed or even fibre connection again. I was on Sky’s “Super Fast Fibre Broadband” which was getting ridiculously expensive with Sky’s constant price rises, so I checked Which for the best providers and chose one of the top best buys. their website did its usual line test but came up as only “standard speed” 4mb/s down-1mb/s up. I said this can’r be right because I’m now getting 40mb/s down and 10mb/s up. So I called the company and the sales lady checked and also agreed that couldn’t be correct. so she signed me up for their version of superfast fibre at the same speeds as Sky. a few weeks later after the new modem and change over connected up and setup was complete, low and behold my spped dropped to 4 and 1 from 40 and 10. So I called the new provider’s technical support team that was when I got the shock announcement that I was no longer on a fibre connection and if I wanted to cancel he would see that I wasn’t charged for the cancelation as it was their mis-selling of the service. I immediately called Sky back to see if I could return to my original service and was told, “Sorry that connection was given to someone else now.” He then explained to me that though I was on a fast fibre connection from my exchange cabinet, which by the way I can see from my house just up the street, there is probably only a limited amount of fibre connections which are apparently used by BT, Sky, and a few other bigger providers which have taken the full fibre lines for themselves and none are available to the likes of the smaller providers that are listed as a best buy. He then said that even if I signed up to Sky again he could only see my available speed as Standard with no Fibre speeds available. Moral of the story, if you got a fast fibre broadband service don’t even think about changing providers again unless they can actually give you a like for like service. You Have Been Warned.

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Jim S says:
5 April 2017

Virgin promise me 70 Mbps and your site shows 83.9. No problem here.
Never had a probem with them.
They keep increasing the speed at no extra cost.

Have just tested the new Which? Broadband Speed Tester and found it to be inconsistent with two other speed test utilities (BT Wholesale’s and the ThinkBroadband one). Surely, if it is going to be a success, it should at least show comparable results to the two examples quoted?

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Everyone talks about the download speed, but it’s the upload speed that truly counts if you want to work. An upload speed is need for conference calls, for screensharing or video. My broadband upload speed on my one line is 0.3mb and 0.9mb on my fibre line. This means I battle to host a call or train employees with the out dated infrastructure. According to BT, if I want to update my line, I need to pay £10k for a new line to be put down my drive way – how is this fair? Why do I need to pay for the infrastructure?

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How about this for dumbness. We offer speeds of 100 meg to any village in Gloucestershire where there is a school and a church to bounce our signal off. We tried our first village STONE in Gloucesterhire and we achieved the total of 6 (SIX) customers. We were offering a better service provided by a local company and we were no more expensive and to add to this we would save the local school thousands of pounds . We thought we had a market but so far it looks like we will need to move to another village!! Our company? Rural Broadband OK Ltd!!!!

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Why should I pay the same as someone who gets mega speeds , why can’t I pay for what I get i.e fast speed high price low speed low price this would surely be the fare way , if I buy a Jaguar I expect a fast car if I buy a Micra I expect a slower car , in this case the price is reflected .

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Dougie says:
6 April 2017

Tried to compare other broadband suppliers but KCom (the only supplier in Kingston-Upon-Hull was not on the list. These surveys always seem to overlook this for the people of Kingston-upon Hull when it comes to telecommunications.

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I have no complaint with my 58mbps download speed against an advertised 54-55mbps from BT. BT bashing is popular at Which? but I have always been totally satisfied with them. What concerns me is the ‘How your neighbours compare with you’ table alongside my results. The claimed ‘advertised speeds’ are mostly nonsense; BT do not offer a 100mbps speed, Three most certainly not 150mbps, and to suggest that Sky advertise 1000mbps (sic) is just fantasy. So if Which? are going to rely on these claims to justify their campaign then they are in danger of not being taken seriously.

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Broadband still out after 100 days, still no result from PlusNet as to when Openreach are going to fix this problem, a total shambles.

Under wrong conversation.

Angus Walker says:
6 April 2017

We have had to resort to rural broadband through satellite provided by Avonline as BT broadband was simply a joke when it came to explaining the differences between advertised speeds and the reality of not being able to stream anything even at lower bandwidth options. We are rural but only two hundred yards away from superfast broadband. Satellite broadband is an expensive option but at least we can now stream even if we have to be careful not to go over our data usage package.

Your speed checker completely ignores those of us who obtain our broadband by other than landlines (copper or fibre). I can run the tests but cannot give you the results as neither of my current providers are on your list and none of the advertised speeds are there either. Although within 3 miles of a town (Dingwall) and 7 miles of a city (Inverness) I can get no internet due to poor cabling and distance from the exchange. BT/ Openreach has made it clear that they will not be changing anything. However for the last five years I have had 20Mb (and it has just checked at that on your speed tester) internet by a satellite provider (Toway) but the latency of 1750ms makes it impracticable for any real time video clips (eg BBC News). I am in the process of moving to another provider (AB Internet) who are now providing me with a wireless connection via a convenient farm elevator. This offers and provides a 10Mb connection but with a small latency and it is magic. My wife and I can both watch simultaneous video without any interruption. There are other solutions available if you look for them but at a higher cost and possibly monthly data limits.

I am currently awaiting a response to a letter posted to Virgin in Swansea as I am paying for up to 100mbs but rarely get that consistently. Tonight it is down to 5.71 download. Upload is regularly faster than download, how weird is that ? Looking at competitors prices, some offer much slower speeds (equal to what I actually get most of the time) but only charge nearly half the price ! We also have to walk to the bottom of our garden or up the hill a bit to get a mobile signal on our Virgin supplied iPhone 5’s despite living in the middle of a large town (Telford). It seems to me, the providers have been obsessed with speed rather than reliability and fair pricing.
BT seem to be no better either.

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I have been unable to test the current speed of my BT supplied “broadband” as it is too slow. It has been getting worse over the past few weeks as the cables run through the trees and they have rubbed the cables and exposed the inner wires. When it rains the internet doesn’t work at all. My neighbour was able to test it a few weeks ago and it was running at 0.13 mb but it seems to have got worse. BT refuse to even send anyone to look at the cables although we have all (three users here) made frequent complaints. We are all charged around £50 to £60 a month for a very intermittent service and no other suppliers will offer alternative arrangements. BT just ignores us all. If we could do something about we would but we are completely at BT’s mercy, a trait of which they are totally devoid.
Where do we live? On the Hampshire/Wiltshire border just off the principal south coast main road, the A27.

Jeremy English

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the problem with our broadband has been the infrastructure which of course its BT cabling they ought to be fined heavily for not keeping it up to date

Jan Holden says:
7 April 2017

I did your broadband speed survey twice this evening – once on phone & once on laptop.
The results were wildly different (laptop much faster) – why is that?

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