/ 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?


My provider TenTel not listed. but good on service , problems. So slow I get message up to say”not responding” do I want to continue or cancel ha!

john says:
10 April 2017

The WHICH broadband test is rubbish!

Hi John, I’m sorry to hear that. What problems are you having with the test?

Pauline says:
10 April 2017

I am supposed to have Fibre broadband, but this year has been hell. Went away for Christmas came home, no broadband for 2 days… and since then it has been intermittent on and off every day, and last week no broadband for four days, now intermittent again. An engineer was sent out who told me that there was no problems with the equipment I was using and that the fault was outside somewhere, but… they charged me £60 for the engineer, I complained and was told that money would be returned to me, still not in my bank account, so I rang again and was told it has been credited to my account and that they do not return money to banks!!!! They are quick enough to take it … I have also been told that WHEN the problem is resolved they will credit me with the cost of no broadband, I asked how much!!! was told they would know that when everything is up and running again, but… when will that be?

Ken Honeyman says:
10 April 2017

Just done a check.
I use Virgin speedtest. net, speed 109mb download.
Which checker only 62mb.
Which check is correct, big difference in speed yet done only seconds apart?

Broadband speed by PlusNet in Maidstone Kent is 6.5mbps.
Response is 166ms and upload is 2.1 mbps.
With a UK call centre in Sheffield that seems satisfactory to me.

I have a major problem with ‘not responding’ . What causes this? I checked with my Broadband provider (Utility Warehouse), who told me that my speeds are good, but he did not really know what caused the ‘ not responding’ problem. My laptop has been back for repair twice in the last 2 months- once for a new hard drive and once as all my apps had disappeared.
Almost all the people I have spoken to have this problem to a greater or lesser degree. I had the whole of one Sunday unable to use my laptop. It is not any one thing causing it as it can be any screen from emails to shopping.

I have tried a few providers, but the problem is that BT refuse to update our exchange, and much of the equipment dates back well before broadband, so we frequently lose the service. On average, for the past 18 months or more, I have lost the connection on a monthly basis. I change providers in the hope that they will actually put pressure on BT to solve the problems as they arise, rather than fobbing me off with excuses like ‘we can’t contact BT until we’ve done this or that, or until 3 days have elapsed (yes, that was one fob-off!) I now understand that I might be able to connect to Virgin cable, but I have only just moved to the Post Office, who don’t yet offer that service. Your test showed 10.1 Mb and .9 upload, though when I test it it is usually 8.9 or less, and around .85 upload. I am cross that the only way I am going to get a faster service is a) wait until the PO catches up, or b) until my 18-month contract runs out, and then pay extra for a fast cable service. When are we going to get internet equality in this country?

Pam says:
10 April 2017

It’s not only rural and remote areas that have problems. I live 1.5 miles from the main town exchange and only get 2.9 mbps download and 1.9 upload speeds. I have a wired set-up because wi-fi would make it even slower. It’s daylight robbery that broadband providers are allowed to get away with charging for such poor service.

“This site cannot be reached,” and similar messages dominate by far screen time than any other page. I would also like PROOF my connection (when active) is via fibre.

BT’s best speed – due to the noise/speed choke – is 0.5 mbps in our part of the countryside – but they still charge the full price for broadband. How can this be allowed? And, when we try and avail ourselves of any of their broadband offers they say we are not eligible. Now that BT has stated they are not increasing the line rental (a BT cash cow) they have started increasing their broadband prices (no doubt to see how much they can get from that source). Many would conclude that business ethics are thin on the ground at BT.

I have no complaint with my BT service regarding Telephone and Broadband.
My partner canceled our Sky TV package and we have upgraded our broadband to cover BT TV. Very good value over all but on occasions the picture on TV breaks up.
We now pay the same for the entire package of TV, Phone and Broadband as we were paying for just Sky TV’s package that covered Sport and Movies.
BT’s Netflix is far superior to Sky Movies.
Today on the Which? test I had 40.1mbps download speed and this evening 39.7.

Norman Silcock says:
10 April 2017

Regrettably, I was unable to post my up and down speeds (both usually 150Mbps) because my provider – B4RN – wasn’t listed.
Incidentally, I’ve been using their fibre connection for four (very happy) months now — no problems, whatsoever.


Just shows what people united can do together. Some of our Consumers Association members in 1957 may have felt exactly the same way.

If a small organisation can achieve this, might it be possible nationally?

I am retired, live in SE London and use TalkTalk (and I have great sympathy with those who have such awful low speeds elsewhere) . I usually have a download speed of of 6 mbps which is adequate for my most of my regular needs (no games or TV/Netflix film downloads and just an occasional i-player or other TV catch up), but it can throw a wobbly now and again and go into buffering or very slow access to email or searches. What is annoying is that the price keeps going up without any extra speed or improved reliability. I feel that the provider’s main focus is trying to push me into buying more add-on services I don’t need, rather than trying to keep its existing customers happy/loyal.

Also, TalkTalk bases its support services overseas and while their technical ability is good, their accents are hard to understand and involve me in repeated use of “please say that gain slowly or explain in a different way” before my problem is resolved.

However, what does allow TalkTalk to retain me as a customer is the still cost effective phone bundle (no longer available to new customers) associated with the nominally “free” broadband, but that does keep going up in price at a rate faster than inflation, which TalkTalk blames on BT’s wholesale pricing increases, which is hard to understand since the copper cable has long since been amortized.

Brian Haworth says:
10 April 2017

Virgin broadband, speed shown as 26.3m.p.s

James Muddiman says:
10 April 2017

I recently bought a house in a brand new development in Liverpool, 3 miles from my previous apartment, I now have a 5 Mb/s (max) download speed, down from 200 Mb/s, because rather than laying down fibre from the fibre enabled exchange, I have instead got 6 km of copper. The connection constantly drops, 6-8 times a day which is making it virtually impossible to work remotely, a serious problem for a software developer. I am currently with Sky as Virgin Media won’t supply the area.

James, as a software developer, did you check the expected speed before you bought the house?

It may be possible to deal with the problem of the connection dropping but not the slow speed unless fibre is brought nearer.

When I moved home last year I was nearly put off buying in the area by the slow (around 2 or 3 Mbps) broadband and an indication that fibre would be put in at some stage. I was lucky and it did not take long.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Ian says:
10 April 2017

I changed from TalkTalk to Zen because Zen was highly recommended by Which? Big mistake. The first router make loud clicking noises and I would lose connection several times a day. I kept phoning Zen and being told that they could not see a problem their end.
After two months, they agreed to replace the router. The new one (which they hadn’t configured before sending it to me) doesn’t click. However, I still lose connection every day. It is definitely not my laptop, which connects fine when I am anywhere else but at home.
I will definitely be changing from Zen as soon as my contract expires

Tried three (or is it four or five) times to get Vodafone Fibre broadband. All to no avail. I am a Vodafone Mobile customer and mistakenly figured that as an existing customer, I’d get a better deal or at least better service – FORGET IT! I also thought they’d have a better end-to-end service offering – FORGET IT! They are as compartmentalized as BT – left hand not knowing what right hand does.

Vodafone’s customer service is so bad that they did’t even inform me when they just cancelled the first three orders and on the last one just told me they’d cancelled it without any further explanation. There appears to be a mismatch between Vodafone’s address database and OpenReach’s – go figure!

So, I then see the BroadBand Provider test results and it would be an improvement over BT with whom I’m with now.

I am disappointed though that neither Vodafone’s nor BT’s routers have been tested!

Andrew West says:
11 April 2017

The aspect of broadband quality which is rarely addressed is the problem of drop-outs.
My b/b speed is quite good and more or less what I pay for, but dozens of times each day my internet service will suddenly stop. It dries up for maybe 30 seconds to a minute, or maybe a bit longer. No connection at all; then it starts up again. This is very frustrating and just as much of a problem as if I was getting an overall low connection speed.

Can you include this in your investigations, Which?

Andrew West

I checked my broadband speeds today at0815hrs and recorded speeds of about 9.5 for up and down load. this seems reasonable but I sometimes get broken service when whatching catch up tv