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Smaller-sized broadband providers are faster at responding to telephone queries than their larger counterparts, a new study has suggested.

The report, conducted by Broadband Rating, found smaller ISPs like Exa Networks and the community B4RN project carried average waiting times of 9.83 and ten seconds, respectively.

In contrast, customers calling up Plusnet - a firm that has performed strongly in a number of other consumer surveys - were forced to wait 988.57 seconds (16.48 minutes) before they were put through to a human being.

An interesting subplot to the findings is the fact that Plusnet prides itself as being one of the few larger ISPs to offer UK-based call centres; something it shares with a number of smaller firms.

Overall, the Broadband Rating report found the biggest five ISPs carried an average call answer time of 320.85 - a figure brought down by PlusNet's poor performance.

That figure was compared to the average call answer time for small ISPs, which was 84.76 seconds.     

The full list is as follows (average number of seconds before being answered): Exa Networks 9.83, B4RN 10, FastNet 17.16, Daisy 17.66, Timico 26.66, Gigaclear 32.5, Andrews and Arnold (AAISP) 36.66, Easynet 39.16, Fidonet 43, Claranet Soho 58.66, Gamma 65.66, Zen Internet 73.33, Gradwell 89.66, TalkTalk 95.75, Hyperoptic 103.16, Manx Telecom 123.83, Virgin Media 142, BT 170.85, JT 186.33, Eclipse Internet 261, Fuel Broadband 273, Sky Broadband 330.75, KC 381.16, Plusnet 988.57.

However, it is worth pointing out the list of tested providers is not representative of the whole market and does not separate business and consumers services, which often have different requirements and performance.    

Similarly it is not clear over what period the study was conducted or how many calls were made to each ISP and at what time, although the findings are still likely to generate a great deal of interest.

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