Art and design






Life and style








US news

World news

Half of all UK broadband users get a bad deal, says Which?

A BT Openreach engineer working on telephone lines in Havant, Hampshire.
A BT Openreach engineer working on telephone lines in Havant, Hampshire. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

Half of all broadband users in the UK are getting a raw deal from their supplier, with slow speeds, rising prices and router failures exasperating customers, according to a damning assessment of Britain’s internet services.

Consumer group Which? found that 53% of households have had difficulties with their broadband, with customers of Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Sky and BT the most likely to experience an issue.

As few as one in 10 households receive the super-fast broadband speeds promised in adverts, said Which?. One third of TalkTalk’s customers complained about “very slow” broadband speeds, as did 22% of BT internet users.

Connection drop-outs were a frequent problem for 17% of broadband users, with 8% of households reporting that they suffered from no connection at all for hours or days at a time.

Price hikes for landline rentals have spurred widespread customer dissatisfaction. BT introduced its third price rise in 18 months at the start of the year, forcing it to deny that it was squeezing customers after paying £1.2bn for Champions League football rights.

Virgin customers’ top complaint was about price increases, said Which?, with 38% of users angry over increased line rental costs.

Which? surveyed 1,709 telecoms customers between June and July. Alex Neill of Which? said: “Far too many people get a poor deal from their broadband provider, with problems ranging from very slow speeds to going days without any connection at all, which just isn’t good enough.

“The regulator must now deliver on its plans to improve the information that customers get about speeds when they sign up to a provider, and allow them to easily exit a contract if they’re not getting what they’ve been promised.”

Ofcom, which regulates broadband suppliers, said: “We completely agree that broadband providers must up their game.”

It recently ordered suppliers to give more realistic information about speeds, and later this year will introduce a new compensation deal for households that suffer delayed repairs, late installations and missed engineer appointments.

The UK lags behind countries including the US, the Netherlands and Japan for 4G and broadband speeds, according to a report last week by the National Infrastructure Commision.

Andrew Adonis, chairman of the commission, said: “Today’s findings [from Which?] demonstrate the scale of the problems customers are having with the current level of broadband service, but also the challenge we face if we are to have the best possible connections in future.

“The UK risks falling behind our international competitors if we don’t invest in the latest ultrafast and fibre technology – broadband providers must also step up to the plate and improve the services they currently deliver to our homes and businesses,” added Lord Adonis.

A study published this month by the Social Market Foundation thinktank found that landline rental and broadband is among the least competitive of all consumer markets in the UK.

“The lack of competitive pressures in the landline-only space means there have been few incentives for companies to compete on price … while wholesale costs of providing a landline service fell by 26% in real terms in recent years, line rental charges faced by consumers increased by 25-49%.”

TalkTalk said it was disappointed by the Which? findings and that recent investment had led to fewer faults and quicker repair times. Virgin Media said it was one of the least-complained about broadband providers and the majority of customers got their advertised speed.

There was support for the broadband suppliers from comparison site Its telecoms expert Dan Howdle said: “It’s easy to complain about broadband in the UK, but on international comparisons we are not doing that badly. We are 31st in the world out of 200 countries on speeds and in the cheapest third when it comes to the cost of broadband.”

This article titled "Half of all UK broadband users get a bad deal, says Which?" was written by Patrick Collinson, for The Guardian on Saturday 21 October 2017 06.01am


Microsoft Surface Book 2 review: a powerful yet pricey laptop-tablet combo

The first generation Surface Book was a feat of engineering that took Microsoft’s Surface tablet PC… Read more

Poppy is a disturbing internet meme seen by millions. Can she become a pop sensation?

“I’m Poppy,” says Poppy, often. In one of her hundreds of videos on YouTube, she repeats those two… Read more

Billions of video site visitors unwittingly mine cryptocurrency as they watch

Each month almost one billion visitors to four popular video sites are being unwittingly forced to… Read more

Game that tune: Apple snaps up Shazam for reported $400m

Apple has bought Shazam, a London-based app that allows smartphone users to identify music, for a… Read more

Facebook to stop routing ad revenue via Ireland amid pressure over taxes

Facebook has said it will start booking advertising revenue in countries where it is earned instead… Read more

Bitcoin buyer beware: US SEC warns 'extreme caution' over cryptocurrency investments

The head of the US Securities and Exchange Commission has warned bitcoin and other cryptocurrency… Read more

Renault Koleos review: ‘What’s happened to the third row of seats?’ | Martin Love

Price: from £27,500 Top speed: 125mph 0-62mph: 9.5 seconds MPG: 47.9 CO2: 156g/km In the beginning… Read more

Bitcoin bubble warnings issued as futures trading opens in Chicago

Bitcoin has taken a step toward legitimacy with the launch of a product on a Chicago exchange that… Read more

Better loving through technology: a day at the sex-toy hackathon

Twelve years of Catholic school prepares you for a lot of weird things, but walking into a church… Read more

Net neutrality: 'father of internet' joins tech leaders in condemning repeal plan

More than 20 internet pioneers and leaders including the “father of the internet”, Vint Cerf; the… Read more