/ 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?

Ruman Uddin says:
10 April 2017

It’s all jargon end of the day. What counts is results and clarity. When I pay for download and or stream and I can see sometimes it’s downloading at 1.5 mbps and other times which I consider on Sky’s 38Mbps 3mbps is a good top speed. But my question is if I’m getting 38mbs and downloading at 3mbps where is the rest of the 35mbps, so I understand from speaking with my brother it sometimes depends on who/where or what server you are downloading from… But what does that mean? What does 38mbs really translate to? So I think you need to consider something called bandwidth maybe? Not sure I fully understand it myself. When I watch a HD YouTube video and my partner does as well it’s fine but soon as I try download something, watching YouTube becomes unbearable with buffering. Another thing I want to point out on top of all this is to throw into the mix, I went to Holiday in Bangladesh and they are well behind, still using 3g and just started using 2mbps broadband, yes that’s correct 2mbps but believe it or not I managed to download and then also later watch 720p hd content without a problem so if in London I pay for 38mbps and have slow problems at times then really there is a problem with understanding, paying for an exact required service and what you are actually given? Now I’m confident that there is someone out there who can make sense of all of this. What I think is if someone individually given 10 Mbps at all times then it should be sufficient. I’m using Xiaomi Mi5s, great phone, on the top it shows what speed I’m getting or using and I can say confidently that it’s not what I’m being sold but what can I do? I apologize in advance for anyone who may read this and think what I’m saying is nonsense but I put my hands up now to say what I started with, which is it’s all not clear. Thank you

I get 79.8mbps speed with VirginMedia. The best Internet Provider in the Country and, for the same price as TalkTalk.

agordon says:
10 April 2017

yes but they will privatise your NHS and offshore the money

Virginmedia are not connected to the group playing with the NHS. Virginmedia belongs to a US giant. The company has been a subsidiary of Liberty Global plc, an international television and telecommunications company headquartered in London, since June 2013.


Hugh says:
10 April 2017

Could not even connect for the complete test. First two parts of the test 222ms and 2.3 download speed but it has been worse in the past.

Only joined EE in January this year 2017 , had nothing but problems with their broadband & phone, the broadband is off & on all the time , made a complaint told me they could not find a fault , was then told i should only be getting a speed of 1.4 & no lower than 0.8 mbps for the area i live, when in fact on my account it states guaranteed no less than 2.0 mbps , at times it has been as low as 0.48 mbps , most of the time i have to reset my router , comes ok for around 5 -10 mins , then back to normal, they have even got the cheek to tell me if the fault is found within my home i will be charged a £60 fee , when first got installed was told needed a new line & was charged £30 for this , no new line was fitted at all , phone calls are of very poor quality often have to ask the person on the other end to repeat what they said , even one of the EE employees i spoke to about this remarked on how poor it was & also said my broadband was very unstable, my account was supposed to be credited £20 for the poor data speed as i was having to use mobile data , that has not even been made to my account .

At quiet times its circa 5mbs. At most times especially after 5pm it drops to between 1 and 3mbs. Which is about as useful as tits on a bull for what I want it for. Yet my neighbours get around 25 to 40mbs. BT say, “Tough”, no forecast for better speed for my house, if ever.

Clara Adams says:
10 April 2017

I am with Virgin Media and I’ve just run a test on my conneection using the link from Which. Interestingly it shows a download speed of 316.9. Strange because I usually use SpeedOf.Me which showed a speed of 228. my advertised speed is 200. So how good is that tool? I don’t think Virgin have increased the speed without shouting it from the rooftops.
I get these speeds on a new Dell XPS 8910 with a 256Gb SSD, my old Dell XPS 420 simply couldn’t take advantage of the speed available, so your own equipment does have some influence on speed. Using WiFi slows it down as well.

Why should we have to pay more for a service that is very poor, don’t mind paying for a good service but to pay extra for a download speed of 1.4Mbps and upload speed of 0.6 Mbps seems unfair.

I have to use expensive satellite, as the BT landline is less than .5.


Derek says:
10 April 2017

We had fibre installed because our broadband performance was just too poor. On the speed test I got 8.4 Mb download speed which is really slow for fibre. I know that this is casused by two things:
1). When BT installed our phone cables 35+ years ago, they decided to use aluminium instead of copper!
2). They routed the cabling to our group of properties by the longest, not the shortest route possible.
The only fair way to charge for broadband is to charge the proportion of the advertised speed that the customer gets. So if the charge is £40 a month for ‘up to’ 40Mb and I’m only getting 9Mb then I should only be paying £9 a month. That would be fair to everyone and it would give BT an incentive to fix the problems.

Speedtests here constantly show 4mbps, and this can be excellent internet service – sometimes.
Though still registering 4mbps, the experienced speed varies enormously and too often grinds to standstill.
John Lewis /Greenbee get good Which? scores, but I think they have squeezed too many subscribers on the line here, as the slow-down usually occurs evenings & weekends when kids et al are at home.

Peter says:
10 April 2017

Am paying Vodafone for the fastest fibre broadband and when it was first installed I had 65mps but slowly this dropped to around 10mps at peak times which is a complete waste of money. Sky tell me my line can take 78mps but as usual nothing is guaranteed, same old story. We should be paying for what we get and not some pie in the sky figure. Make the provider guarantee speeds and recompense when they do not provide what you pay for.
The problem is contention rate which is how many people share the line, the more shared the line becomes the slower the speed. Providers should have a limit to how many customers the put on one line.

I have no idea what speed to expect but it seems ok with my BT Broadband. This conversation should give some idea of guidance for speed to expect.

Stephen Gilbert says:
10 April 2017

I wish to know if I am entitled to a repair on the line to make the broadband work again

On the 23rd April, transfer completed from BT to Zen. I chose Zen as it was highly recommended by Which ! Phone transfer went ok no problems, router NO ! Terrible problems besides 1mb download speed and I had paid for 62mb coming into property, contraption would not connect at all. Today after being promised a new router on Sunday morning, now Monday, a 3rd support person called Chris, said they shouldn’t have promised a new router without additional checks. had me turning router on and off, downloading firmware, connecting my tablet direct to router via usb port to check router speed, then said I must connect an Ethernet cable to router and to use a Laptop. I said that with a good Samsung tablet and a nice smart Motorola phone that I didn’t need one , this was besides changing the frequency which made no difference at all. Last phone call was well over an hour ! I found this Chris’s attitude to be quite aggressive and he was inferring at one stage that I should get a Laptop from somewhere to check the router speed via Ethernet cable, that a household was lacking cos we didn’t have a Laptop ! Inference also was perhaps I should knock on neighbour’s doors to borrow one !
After at least 3 referrals to a boss he finally agreed to send me a different router, different make, different model and he said that it had a better reputation for reliability ! HMM, questions there to be asked about that ! If I had not stood my ground, don’t think I would have got anywhere!
I hope that the new router arrives before Easter and works !
The previous 2 support guys were really nice and helpful but this last one YUKK !

Jacky says:
10 April 2017

I cant use your report back system cos you dont show my supplier – the Phone Coop.
For the record I got 134ms latency, 10.6 mbps download and 1.1 mbps upload and I live in the Forest of Dean, GL16 7HX.
That’s not bad for a rural area – most of the greedy users have switched to superfast so now I get quite a good speed from the basic version!

Our broadband speed is amazing (for us) today on 17.5mbs but it can often drop to 3 or 4. When BT recently connected the fibre optic, we only got an extra 2mbs, so cancelled because that is not worth the extra money. Our biggest problem is connection – the aluminium and copper connectors in the underground box along the road is such a spaghetti mess that when one line is restored after a problem, others are knocked off, and when those are reconnected, someone else goes off. It costs BT a fortune in constantly sending engineers who waste travelling and working time for a problem they all know about, when they could send one engineer to sort it out over maybe a day or so (so we’ve been told) and stop the constant faults.

I moved from BT to Zen, because BT kept dropping my speed, at least 4 times a year I would phone up and get them to up my speed again ! I agree with your box problem, ours is similar and every time we get prolonged heavy rainfall broadband is zilch and phone line is bad, unfortunately over the last few years this is happening more and more often. So the upshot is don’t matter who you are with if BT doesn’t sort out the box and infrastructure ! Best of Luck.

We are with Virgin, and pay for 70Mbps. I check fairly often, and the average is around 40Mbps. Just checked using the Which site, and it measured 29.5Mbps.
We also find the wi-fi drops out once or twice a week, and we have to re-boot the router.
Surely at just over £32.00 per month we should receive a more reliable service. Trying to complain is almost as frustrating.

larry says:
10 April 2017

i would like to know my speed, but the which speed checker doesnt work

We pay Virgin £32.47 for up to 70Mbps. I check fairly regularly, and the average is around 40Mbps.
Just checked using the Which speed checker, and it registered 29.5Mbps.
Our wi-fi drops out once or twice a week, and requires the router re-booting.
Have phoned a couple of times, and they say the system is fine.
Very frustrating.