/ 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?


Having tried the Broadband Speed Checker 4 times, I keep getting “Connection error, starting again”. Hmm is that down to my BB, (which drops out quite often on incoming calls), or the Speed Checker?

I opted to increase the speed of the broadband via John Lewis broadband operated by BT’s subsidiary Plusnet. On balance I’ve experienced total drop-outs every 7-10 days,having to reset the modem etc. The replacement modem/router hasn’t cured the problem. Additionally the so called “Fibre optic” connection isn’t what is advertised because the distance from the BT Cabinet to my home is routed via copper wire. Virgin broad band cannot supply their unique total fibre-optic service for many moons apparently.

I have tried several times to use your speed checker but I cannot get past where it says “checking your provider’s response time” So – not much use!

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I live in Birmingham. I contacted Openreach to find out when we would be getting fibre bb. Openreach told me that there were no plans to upgrade the green cabinet because there were not enough houses in the street to make it commercially viable!! If I was willing to pay to have it installed at a typical cost of £20,000 subject to survey they would do it. I contacted my MP but obviously Openreach take no notice of MP’s but he explained that he has lots of little not spots in his constituency where Openreach (BT) have failed to upgrade, with no expectation that this will be resolved any time soon. So it isn’t just rural areas that have problems getting the best bb speeds. The regulator/Government has simply failed to get a grip of this monopoly that only acts in its own interest and never considers the customer.

my son has a MAXIMUM speed of 0.91mps. Despite trying to sort this with the post office they haven’t offered any price discount and keep stating that super fast broadband will be coming soon. So why is he paying full price when he can’t even do internet banking, check his emails or stream films?
Yes we live in a rural area but even so there needs to be some priority for the infrastructure to support local business and individuals.

I think Which? should also campaign against excessive Broadband price increases ! I signed up to a 24 month contract wef 27/1/17 – package was £32.50 per month but with a £17.50 per month discount for first 12 months. BT then unilaterally put up the price wef 2/4/17 by £2.50 per month – so my net monthly payment has now increased from £15.00 per month to £17.50 per month – an extortionate increase of 17%!! I called BT who told me they had written to me and informed me I had 30 days to cancel my contract if I did not accept the price increase – which of course is impractical – so it was basically accept the price increase or lose your broadband connection. The Government should be urged to cap broadband price increases during a fixed term contract

Currently I am lucky and enjoy reasonable internet speeds. However, I have just moved into a new home, live only 1/2 mile from the BT exchange and have a Openreach cabinet opposite my house on the main road, so that should be a reasonable expectation . All the green cabinets along the main road loudly display that “Fibre Broadband is here”. My house is a new build on a reasonably sized new estate of approx 65 houses. Apart from the horrors I initially experienced with BT/Openreach trying to get connected, I can’t understand why fibre was not used to connect up the estate, instead we are connected with copper wires!!! So, when BT finally get their act together, they will be able to charge again for the fibre no doubt! I started the moving process well before I even moved as I had a guaranteed date to move in, so BT had plenty of time to react. In total it took me approx 4 months to get connected. Along the way I was lied to time and again by BT, the original order was cancelled, engineers missed appointments and all in all it cost me in excess of £250. Needless to say and having been a BT customer for many years, I have moved lock, stock and barrel to another provider. BT will not get another penny out of me for the rest of my lifetime!! I could go on but I think you get the picture.

At postcode PH15 2DW at “quiet” times, I briefly get up to 7.5 download. At “busy” times this drops to between 1.25 and 3.3. Upload sped is nearly always below 1.0

North Notts. Broadband highly variable, often none at all. Has become much worse since BT put fibre into the village but only enough for 10% of households. I have to wonder if this is deliberate as exactly the same thing happened when BT went from dial up to broadband.

not necessary says:
11 April 2017

Virgin are extremely difficult to contact other than by phone
about half the time when you ring them the call center youreach is not in the UK which often leads to communication difficulties.
When you try to get through by email (to an email provideder) if you get an email address to use you will get a response telling you that you used the wrong address ands the person responding to this rather than forward it to the right place redirects you to what is basically a multiple choice thing which is woefully inadequate ( I suspect this is deliberately so) or to real cop out of customer service a frequently answered questions or even worse a customer based forum. For all of these phrasing your question to get a response you need is pure low probability pot-luck and if you do get a response you have no way of really knowing if that response isd any good.
I only stay with Virgin because of the broadband speed. I also suspect that although the speed test says its fast in reality connecting to a log in page on virgin itself appears to actually take longer than you’d expect.

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What is there to sell off, Duncan? BT is already a privately owned company and the other telecom service providers are as well. The government has pledged to enable 95% of the UK to have access to fast broadband [reckoned to be a minimum of 20 mbps] by 2020 and is paying BT to provide it in areas where it is not commercially viable to do so. I don’t think the government’s plan is to provide FTTP but if it is installed to the cabinet at public expense then the final section to the premises will possibly be commercially viable in many cases for those who must have it or require superfast broadband. Jobs on the UK system and networks will have to continue to be held by people living in the UK; tighter immigration controls will reinforce that. Are other utility companies that happen to be foreign-owned employing ranks of foreign workers ? Is BT such a good example of employment practices when you consider their overseas call centre operations over the last decade or more?

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I can see where you’re coming from, Duncan, but I’m not going there. I don’t agree with you, but I accept that he who lives longest sees most. Time will tell. As ever, I enjoy your medieval analogies.

We live in a country area and get adequate broadband speeds. I never check the numbers because it is not necessary.

The Which speed checker appears not to work below a certain threshold download speed. When I was having problems with my speed, I originally used two other speed checkers, which although they gave far from identical results at the same time and location in the house on my laptop, at least they recorded values (eg 0.5 with 3.7 Mbps). The Which product would not work.
As a test I used all three speed checkers on my laptop with my son’s good internet connection. They returned roughly consistent results at about 15Mbps.
I have now changed my ISP, and the speed is better. All three speed checkers work, but are far from
identical, eg 3.93 and 4.20 with Which at 4.50Mbps.
We should be able to trust the Which speed checker in all circumstances, particularly when we need it and are having problems with low speeds. Which tests other products for quality. It should make sure its own products come up to scratch.

Hi Alan, sorry to hear you’re experiencing inconsistencies with the speed checker tool. All tools measure speeds slightly differently, but we are investigating all of your feedback and sharing this with our partners who helped build it. The tool is always being improved, with regular lab tests carried out to ensure its accuracy. When we have updates on their investigations into your feedback, we’ll come back and share that with you.

BT have just reneged on a promise to improve broadband speeds in our village, which currently average around 0.2 mbps. And that is during the day when kids are at school and many residents are at work. The rest of the time it is all but impossible to do anything on the internet. Apparently the next move is for some company to put cable into the village but each household will have to pay for connection to their property and then a far higher fee for the service than current broadband costs. in this day and age it is an outrage that you cannot get a service that many take for granted.

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Howard Winter says:
11 April 2017

Your checker page is flawed – it insists that you choose one of the suppliers, then doesn’t list all of them, and doesn’t provide a way say “Other”.
I can’t select the ISP I’m with (Andrews & Arnold) so how can I submit the result?
A&A’s aim is “never to be the bottleneck” and upgrade their networks when it looks like demand is increasing to close in on their capability.
I would recommend anyone with problems to look at them – they will take on a problem line and either get it fixed (usually) or you may leave them freely. Frankly, if they can’t get BT (or whoever) to fix a problem, then nobody can!
I have no connection with them apart from being a very satisfied customer.

A T Norman says:
11 April 2017

Your test didn’t work

I’m not sure we’re comparing like with like on your ‘what the neighbours get’ page. I have recently switched from BT to talk Talk and am getting comparable speeds (around 19 Mbps early afternoon weekday) Your stated BT figures in this area are fantastical compared to the 16Mbps I was getting from BT so I suspect you are quoting fibre speeds for BT. I believe I could have that but it would cost me extra and the extra cost is not justified by my usage.

It took 3 attempts before I could get past the response time. I kept on getting a “connection error”
The response time varied on each occasion 975ms; 477ms and 386ms. My download speed is 2.5Mbps. I should be getting 8 or 9. This is what I was told I should get with Talk Talk. My upload speed is 51.4Mbps
My problems trying to access the internet is frustrating. This morning it took almost 10 minutes to get on line.
I get messages of “Timed Out” It took too long to respond. Sometimes I have to restart my PC to get passed this problem. When I eventually get on line I constantly get pages freezing and have to start again

My Provider wasn’t listed but the phone line is BT so used that. The result today was on a good day. It’s often as low as 0.4 and varies between 0.5 and 1mbs. The top speed of 1.2 was only achieved once. And now my provider (Supanet) is putting up my monthly payments with no comparable rise in speed. I only get 15G download allowance a month and have asked for 20 since the cost is rising but they haven’t replied

Robert says:
11 April 2017

Not wishing to spoil the party, I think it worth recording that there are people here who do get what they pay for. I am a Virgin cable user. I pay for speeds up to 200Mbps and the Which? speed checker has just come up with a figure of 244.1Mbps. The system rarely goes off line (perhaps twice per year at most) and while speed does drop somewhat in the evenings and at weekends it never gets to a point where it is unacceptable.

Certain websites do run slowly (Ebay is particularly bad at times) but since everything else flies along at the same time that must be down to the site, not the ISP. All in all, I am a very satisfied Virgin customer (and I do not work for them, by the way).