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Broadband outage in the UK

Broadband outage in the UK

There are few things more frustrating than your broadband going down.

What would you do if your broadband went out for over a day? Would you be able to work? How would you keep in touch with friends and family? And what would you watch on TV? Does anyone still have a DVD player plugged in these days?

Our latest research reveals which UK locations have suffered the most broadband outages and which ones were stuck offline for the longest.

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Broadband outage in the UK

According to recent research carried out by Uswitch, almost 15 million consumers suffered a major broadband outage over the past year. This is three times higher than in the previous 12 months.

And with many of us still working exclusively from home, a broadband outage can have serious implications.

In fact, our research showed that the UK lost 16 million working days in the last year to broadband outages, costing the economy an estimated £5 billion in lost work time. Compared to last year's figure of £1.5 billion a year, the importance of a stable broadband connection is drastically increasing as our working habits evolve.

Different locations across the UK have had varying levels of disruption caused by broadband outages. In the past year, Edinburgh was the UK’s outage capital, with its residents suffering the longest time without broadband per person, losing nine million hours of broadband over the year. This is a dramatic shift from the previous year's findings in which the Scottish capital actually experienced some of the fewest broadband outages in the UK.

In contrast, Belfast residents suffered the shortest amount of downtime, with the city reporting only 11 hours offline throughout the year.

Table to show the worst places in the UK for network outages

Rank City Average downtime 2019-20 Average downtime 2020-21
1 Edinburgh 25 hours 175.3 hours
2 Bristol 169 hours 109.3 hours
3 Leeds 13 hours 96.5 hours
4 Sheffield 32 hours 75.3 hours
5 Brighton 89 hours 70.1 hours
6 Birmingham 25 hours 66.8 hours
7 Liverpool 21 hours 59.5 hours
8 Southampton 26 hours 45 hours

Ernest Doku, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, comments: “Outages have affected the country like never before over the past 12 months, with three times as many people complaining of a lost connection than in the previous year.

“This report covers the first full year of lockdown measures, in which millions of home-workers and home-schoolers have experienced internet outages when they would usually have been at their workplaces or in school.

“When you’re trying to get things done, not being able to stay connected can be infuriating, and when a provider fails to communicate with their customers properly it can make the situation worse."

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What to do when your broadband goes down

First thing’s first, make sure it's a genuine broadband outage. Sometimes, customers who think their network provider is down are simply experiencing a problem with their home broadband equipment. So check things like your router connections and power source. Then, check your device to make sure it’s connecting to the correct Wi-Fi network.

It may sound simple, but switching your equipment and devices off and on again will often solve the problem.

Replace an old router

If you’ve been with your broadband provider for a while now, you may have an older router. The longer you’re using it, the greater the chance that it will have a fault. Or at the very least, it won’t be as powerful as the newer ones on the market.

If you’re experiencing connectivity issues because of your Wi-Fi router, contact your provider and ask them to replace it. Just be careful that they don’t get you to pay or sign up to a new contract just to get one. If this is the case, you could just as easily switch to a new provider and get a new router for free.

Contacting your provider when your broadband is down

If all is in working order at home, it’s time to reach out to your broadband provider to find out if the problem is unique to your household. When you speak to your provider, they should be able to tell you if the problem is isolated to just your connection or part of a wider network issue.

- Sky Broadband down If you experience a Sky Broadband outage, contact Sky on 0333 7590956.

- Virgin Media Broadband down Virgin Media’s Connect app enables you to check your Wi-Fi signal strength, and reboot your hub if you're experiencing broadband problems. But if there's a Virgin Media Broadband outage, contact Virgin Media on 0345 454 1111, or one 150 on your Virgin Media landline.

- BT Broadband down If you experience a BT Broadband outage, contact BT on 0800 800 150.

See our full guide on how to contact your broadband provider for more details.

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Have a back up plan

In the event that your broadband outage is caused by damage to the network of broadband cables or other provider issues, you might be caught without broadband for a few hours, or even a few days.

In these cases, it’s good to have a contingency plan in place that allows you to keep working. This could include tethering to your mobile or having offline backups in place that allow you to keep working or watching media offline.

Our research in 2020 showed that 37% of consumers who were suffering from broadband issues used their mobile phone data, either directly on their devices or by tethering it to a computer. A further 5% admitted to using their neighbour’s Wi-Fi connection instead.

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Finally, more than a quarter of people just stopped what they were doing and waited for the broadband to come back online. So if you are stuck offline for a while and there’s nothing you can do, maybe now is a good time to take a break from your screens.

Keen to switch broadband to a more reliable provider? Check out our latest broadband deals.

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