22 million Brits suffer broadband outage blues and are paying a premium for it
Southampton top for connectivity flops, says Uswitch research
Suffered from broadband blackouts over the past 12 months? You aren't alone because an estimated 22 million Brits endured outages of three hours or more, and are paying a higher monthly subscription for the pleasure.
This is according to price comparison website Uswitch, which pressed 2,000 subscribers to open up about their broadband blues, finding 41 percent had experienced connectivity failures lasting upwards of 180 minutes.
The stats equate to a "staggering 21 million UK consumers" and is a major increase on the 12 million who reported similar woes in the 2022 annual broadband outage survey, or so we're told.
Outages at broadband providers was the biggest cause of "prolonged disconnections" followed by router issues and planned maintenance to external cables. Vanishing services were felt acutely, with many people still working from home for some days in a week.
Uswitch reckons almost one in five reported that outages occurred during work hours, and 15 percent of respondents said it stopped them working altogether. A third that lost connectivity were doing so at least once a month, and a quarter moaned it continued for three hours or more a week, or 6.5 days of downtime over a 12-month stretch.
Such is our reliance on broadband, outages were the third biggest frustration in the lives of the people questioned, beating roadworks, public transport delays, and late deliveries. Only rude customer service and queue jumpers trumped the annoyance of crap connectivity.
Only 22 percent say they received any compensation, perhaps because almost half didn't even realize they are entitled to it. This is against a backdrop of rising broadband prices, which went up on average by 15 percent in April.
"Despite major increases earlier in the year, if anything, the issue of broadband outages appears to be getting worse," said Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at Uswitch. "This isn't acceptable in a cost of living crisis, especially considering the ongoing reliance on home internet for many homes."
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Which UK city topped the hall of shame when it comes to botched broadband services? Southampton was first with 63 hours of downtime over 12 months following by Newcastle with 57 hours, Birmingham with 47, Liverpool with 44, and Nottingham with 33. London was reportedly 13.5 hours, Uswitch estimates.
The "significant disparity" is "concerning," added Doku, as other parts of the country "have to settle for less."
Campaign group Which? found in July that more than half of the 4,000 people it surveyed faced at least one broadband connection problem in the past year, and said of the mid-contract price hikes that it hopes comms regulator Ofcom can change things to "ensure customers are never trapped in this situation again."
Kester Mann of analyst CCS Insight warned earlier this year that more inflation-linked pain could be coming, saying that telecoms "price rises each April are now commonplace in the UK," with most operators "using an inflation-linked calculation and adding up to 3.9 percentage points. The method received relatively little attention when inflation was low, but now that it's above 10 percent – the highest level in 40 years – the impact is far greater."
He added: "Nobody likes to see prices go up. But the telecom industry is correct to point out its own rising costs, as well as heavy ongoing investment in mobile and fixed-line networks necessary for ever-increasing demand.
"BT recently noted that its energy bill has leapt by about 80 percent over the past 12 months. It added that demand for data on its network has trebled in five years as household spending on telecom services in the UK has fallen by 19 percent in the same period. The company argued that the planned changes mean an average increase of only slightly more than £1 a week for most of its customers." ®