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7 Aug 2019

Fibre broadband - what's stopping you from upgrading?

People give a range of reasons for not switching to a faster connection - but many are misguided

The telecoms regulator, Ofcom, says fibre is available to 94% of premises, yet only 45% of us have signed up to superfast services.

When we surveyed more than 8,000 broadband customers, just over a third told us they still had standard (also known as ADSL) broadband.

So what's stopping us from upgrading? We asked nearly 3,000 people why they're sticking with standard broadband - read on to discover the range of reasons they gave, and whether they stack up.

Looking for a new fibre broadband deal? Use our overview of the best (and worst) broadband providers of 2019 to find one that ticks the boxes.

Concerns about speed

The most common reason people gave related to broadband speed - 41% said they're happy with the speed of their current service. A further 20% of respondents also told us they simply don't use the internet enough to warrant upgrading to fibre.

Although average standard broadband speeds are typically between 11 and 12Mbps, some locations will receive faster speeds. These speeds will typically be adequate for simple browsing and using social media. Depending on where you live, speeds may also be high enough to allow for streaming on multiple devices too.

But in some areas standard broadband speeds will be far lower than this, meaning your connection will struggle if you want to stream or use more than one device at a time. If you're in this boat, an upgrade is worth considering.

20% of respondents also said they don't think it will make much difference to the quality of their service. Although 'quality' is subjective, fibre connections are more reliable than ADSL ones, as well as being faster.

If you're unclear on whether you'd benefit by upgrading to fibre, read our guide to broadband speeds.

Confusion over availability

Despite fibre being available to the vast majority of premises in the UK, more than a quarter of those who responded to our survey told us they weren't sure it was available where they live. While you may struggle to get a fibre connection if you live in a rural area, most people in cities and towns will be able to upgrade.

8% also said they didn't think their current provider offers fibre, which is also unlikely to be the case. Several providers - for example, Virgin Media and Vodafone - only offer superfast broadband, but none of the major providers limit their services to slower ADSL broadband.

If you're interested in fibre and not sure what's on offer in your area, use Which? Switch Broadband to compare the deals available where you live.

Is fibre too expensive?

One in five of those we surveyed told us that they believe fibre is too expensive, causing them not to switch.

But we've consistently found that it's possible to pay less for fibre than for standard broadband, particularly if you're no longer within your minimum contract period. Customers typically move from a cheaper introductory deal on to a pricier standard tariff once their contract period ends. If you've been with your provider for more than 12 months, there's a chance you're paying this higher price.

In July, standard tariffs for ADSL broadband ranged from £14.50 to £33. On the other hand, introductory offers for superfast services started at £17.50 - so customers paying top dollar for their ADSL deal could save £186 a year by switching to a faster service.

Use our round-up of the best cheap fibre and broadband deals to make sure you're paying a reasonable price for your connection.

Switching feels like a hassle

A handful of respondents said they hadn't upgraded due to concerns around switching - 8% told us they can't be bothered to switch, and 6% said they didn't want to risk any downtime in their service.

But when we asked respondents who have switched recently, the majority said they'd found the process easy. And as with upgrading to fibre, many of the reasons around why we don't want to switch can actually be misguided too.

To make things as simple as possible, we've broken it into four steps - get started using our guide on how to switch broadband provider.