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30 Mar 2022

Slow speeds and drop outs: the most common broadband complaints revealed

Virgin Media, Sky and EE customers most likely to have experienced a problem

Half of broadband customers have experienced problems with their connection in the past year, according to the latest Which? broadband satisfaction survey.

The results of a survey of nearly 4,000 broadband customers found that very slow speeds, drop outs, outages and router issues were some of the most common grievances. Of the UK's biggest providers, Virgin Media, Sky and EE had the customers most likely to have experienced a problem in the past 12 months.

Our findings come as many provider's price increases come into effect, adding additional pressure to households already struggling with increases to the cost of living.

Don't put up with a substandard broadband provider. Read our round up of the best and worst broadband providers for 2022 to see which came out on top.

The most common broadband issues

Frequent signal drop outs were the most common broadband issue overall, affecting 17% of respondents. However, Plusnet customers were more likely to say they'd experienced drop outs, with this affecting 20% of its customers.

The second most common problem experienced by broadband customers was very slow speeds. This affected around 15% overall, but was reported by 18% of Sky and Virgin Media customers. Slow uploads and downloads were also a problem, affecting 13% overall but 17% of Sky customers.

Router problems were an issue for 13% of people overall, but 18% of Virgin Media customers said they'd experienced router issues. Virgin Media also stood out for the wrong reasons when it came to long outages, with 24% saying they'd been left without a connection for at least an hour, compared to just 12% of customers overall.

Customer service and price rises

As well as looking into service issues, the Which? survey asked broadband customers about the customer service they had received from their provider, including if prices increasing had been a problem.

Overall, 37% told Which? they'd experienced customer service issues, and 17% said that price increases had been a problem for them in the last 12 months. This went up to 24% of Sky and 23% of Virgin Media customers.

10% of customers also said they had found it difficult to get in touch with their provider.

Flight refunds

How to fix slow broadband

In some cases, the only way to fix broadband problems is to speak with your provider - or to pick a new one - but there are several things worth trying yourself first.

  • If you want to check how your speed compares to what was promised by your provider, start by running a broadband speed test. If your speed is much lower than expected, follow our steps on how to speed up slow broadband to see whether you can fix the issue yourself.
  • If your wi-fi signal is dropping out regularly, consider whether all of your devices need to be connected at once. However, keep in mind that other people living nearby may also have an impact on your connection - try changing the wi-fi channel you're using to see if that helps.
  • And if your router is playing up, take a look at our guide on how to fix your router for help understanding what the lights on yours might be telling you.

But if you're experiencing persistent problems with your connection, it's worth letting your provider know.Read our guide onyour rights if your broadband is slow or interruptedfor more information.

Several providers have signed up to Ofcom's voluntary code of practice on broadband speed: BT, EE, Plusnet, TalkTalk, Utility Warehouse, Virgin Media and Zen Internet. Each of these providers has committed to give new customers a minimum download speed that is guaranteed. If you're signed up with one of these and your speed drops below what was promised when you signed up, you may be entitled to a discount.

Is it time to switch broadband provider?

If you're sick of experiencing issues with your broadband provider, it may be time to consider a switch. It can sound like a faff, but when we ask people who have done it recently, the majority tell us it's easy. We've broken it down into four simple steps - get started using our guide on how to switch broadband provider.

Switching is also an opportunity for an upgrade - as well as offering faster speeds, fibre is more reliable, and you could actually save money compared with a standard broadband connection. Read our guide on the benefits of fibre broadband for more, and check the best broadband deals to see how much you could save.