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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?

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.

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.

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!

This comment was removed at the request of the user

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.

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.

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.

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.

Vik says:
14 April 2017

I am sure that the reasons for your survey are 100% of importance to the British people.
But only if your speed test works.
I have an account with Virgin media for “Vivid 100 Optical Fibre” and no matter how many times I start the test I get only as far as getting a “Response time” calculation. Then everything stops with a message saying ” connection error, starting again…….. and everything grinds to a halt.
Looking at some of your other feedback I am not alone in this situation so your survey results must reflect this.
One observation that I would like to make is that all providers of broadband are using their own definitions and there are no set standards. My ” optical fibre ” may have a bit of hidden ” optical fibre” but the co-axial cable with “F connectors” that comes into my flat is not “optical fibre”.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Hello Vik,

We’re really sorry to hear this. We’re collecting the community’s comments and feeding back your user experiences.

It would be very helpful if you could let us know what browser and device you were using when you conducted your speed test.

Thank you very much,


It does not work! As a member I do not expect this from Which

Philip Rice

Hi Philip,

Sorry to hear you’re experiencing issues. Can we ask, were you unable to run our speed test? If so, what device and browser were you using?



Most of the time things are too slow for the speed check to work but I did manage to get a 0.15 Mb download speed on one of my attempts.
The interet connection here in Nemphlar, Lanark is practically useless and I find my myself resorting to using my mobile phone as a WiFi hot spot.

elaine nelson says:
14 April 2017

my gripe with broadband is i have to have a wifi box because we have no wiring because we are on a green site. i have to pay twice as much money as my family.they can get everything including mobile for less than £20. i was paying £65 for 4gb and mobile.i did complain and they put it down to £30 plus calls.im a pensioner that is not rich but minimum pension

Clive Walker says:
15 April 2017

Your comparison with neighbours is totally unrealistic – I suspect that claims of 500 Mbs from Sky and 200 from Talktalk are looking at Business FTTP – this comparison checker is a waste of time.

Thank you Clive. We appreciate your feedback.

We wanted to make sure our comparison table features the advertised speed in addition to the actual speed so that it would be a fair comparison.

We’re sorry this feature wasn’t helpful for you.

Clive Walker says:
20 April 2017

But those advertised speeds are for businesses – none of the companies would advertise those speeds as being available to consumers at normal broadband prices. It certainly isn’t a fair, or representative comparison.

Your speed tester does not want to know. Connection error. Using the Plus Net checker I have jut managed 0.26mbs. I usually get around 0.5 on a good day.
I pay the same as everybody else but get less for my money. All the campaigns seem to concentrate on improving the speed for those already getting a decent speed whilst leaving the rural peasants to rot in obscurity!

Hi Keith,

We’re sorry to hear you’re experiencing such slow speeds. We are running the Fix Bad Broadband campaign for people in your situation.

You may find these tips on speeding up slow broadband helpful: http://www.which.co.uk/reviews/broadband-deals/article/speed-up-slow-broadband

We’d love to hear how you get on with the tips.

Hi there. I have just ran your tester and what a load of garbage the results were. They bear absolutely no resemblance to tests performed using BTs own speed tester, Think broadband or Speedtest.net. This leads me to the conclusion that your speed test is not fit for purpose and the results will be skewed in the favour of the ISPs. This is also extremely bad show for a consumer group.
Your checker states 97ms latency when a test ran a couple of minutes before using Thinkbroadband showed 42ms. Your checker showed a Download speed of 79.5Mbps which is a physical impossibility on BT FTTC lines as the output tops out at 76Mbps, TBB showed 59.49Mbps showing your checker to be overestimating by 20Mbps. Upload shows as 18.5Mbps from you and 18.55Mbps on TBB, at least you got close on 1 reading.
I know my speeds to be the same as TBB and Speedtest.net as these speeds have been confirmed by Plusnet (despite being given discrepancies in line length of 280M to over 300M). I first was connected to FTTC in March 2016, a week after the promised connection date and not without further troubles as well. I routinely connected at 71Mbps to 73.5Mbps until Plusnet moved me to their new back end in July 2016 whereupon they got my profile wrong and it took yet another email to the CEO to get things sorted but yet again things didn’t go smoothly and I ended up being given 8 months free broadband because of all the lies and bad customer service I was given. I was promised that there should be no more hassles but come 04/11/2016 my connection speeds dropped off a cliff again, going as low as 10.33Mbps. I now routinely connect at around 59Mbps but according to BT and Plusnet this is absolutely fine as is the doubling of my Ping speed. I have never met a company that is so ready to outright lie to their customers (BT/Plusnet) and an organisation that is quite happy to simply shift the connection goalposts without warning so that customers have no chance of complaining (Openreach). I don’t feel I have done the story justice in this short email, however if anyone would like to hear more about this and see the evidence I have then please feel free to contact me.

If you are running a campaign to fix bad broadband I’d suggest you use reliable speed-checker software! I’ve tried many times, to use yours and it gets to around 8% through the first part and freezes every time, Not much faith in a campaign that falls at the first hurdle. I tried Broadbandspeedchecker,co.uk and it works every time. I’m waiting on fibre but BT keep moving the date it will be available. It was meant to be April, but on checking today they’ve changed it to 12th May. Currently with Sky I get anything between 0.4Mbps and 28Mbps – an unacceptable variance!

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Harry Hyams says:
20 April 2017

Oh dear, WHICH has failed AGAIN. You don’t include GIGACLEAR and your speed test is sadly lacking in ability. It is NOT reporting correctly. Give up and go back to washing machines.

We’ve included the most common consumer broadband providers in our drop down menu on our tool. We’re also going to add an ‘other provider’ option should you find your provider is not listed here. Please accept our apologies and bear with us whilst we make these updates.

Your checker is not fit for the purpose you are advertising it for. If I run your checker on my laptop via wireless at the bottom of my garden whilst I have internet TV running, my kids watching youtube and wife is face- timing her mum I will get a totally false reading of my BB speed and that doesn’t even start to consider electrical interference in my house from microwaves, electrical cabling etc. You need to have guidance around its use – I can’t believe you are setting yourselves up as expert arbitrators on this subject without even this most basic understanding, unless of course you are simply trying to generate false dissatisfaction amongst users to promote your guides. To get a valid reading to compare with other users you have to work from a common baseline – you must be direct connected to your router via an Ethernet cable with no other connections live other wise its like testing your water flow into your bath whilst the main to your house is burst!
Come on Which you should know better!

This comment was removed at the request of the user

You make some very valid points Alan, thanks for your feedback. We have some of the guidance you recommend on our broadband speed test page. For the most accurate results we also recommend that you should use a cable to connect your computer to your router before running the test. And if you need to test wirelessly then position yourself as close to your router as possible. We’re aware that this information is not on the speed checker page itself and we’re looking to add some further guidance here.

Using Virgin unfortunately VIVID 100 to be precise never get above 30 mbps when downloading and 15 when uploading and the exchange is literally 20 yards away. Phoned up today “tests were taking longer than usual” but no problems found…….left it for 10 minutes, phoned again and they had found a problem erm……