Press release:

Buffering Britain: 43 million UK broadband users suffering poor internet connection at home

  • 43 million broadband users (83%) are suffering poor reliability at home[1]
  • Consumers report slow loading pages (71%), internet disconnecting (67%), buffering (63%) and crashing (54%)[2]
  • Superfast broadband reduces speed and reliability issues but despite it being available to 90% of households[3], only 57% of Brits believe they can access it[4]
  • And users are confused by industry jargon too – a quarter (26%) simply don’t know what sort of service will give them a superfast connection[5]
  • uSwitch.com calls on the industry to improve transparency around broadband speeds so users understand what they can actually get in their own home

 Eight in 10 (83%) UK broadband users have experienced reliability issues over the past year[1], according to new research by price comparison and switching service uSwitch.com.

Customers’ biggest broadband bugbear is slow loading pages, which 71% of those surveyed have been blighted by in their current contract. Six in 10 (63%) have experienced buffering, more than half (54%) have had pages crash and 67% say their internet disconnects[2].

Despite superfast broadband significantly reducing speed and reliability issues compared to standard packages, only 57% of users believe they can access superfast speeds in their area[4] and nearly a third (30%) don’t know if they can access such services at all. In reality, superfast broadband is now available to 90% of households[3].

uSwitch.com’s research suggests that consumers are bamboozled by the terminology used by broadband providers too. While 94%[6] say they understand that ‘fibre broadband’ is ‘faster than standard’, a quarter (26%)[5] admit they don’t know what types of service will deliver superfast speeds to their home.

One in five (19%) broadband users say they’d switch providers for faster speeds and more than a third (38%) would switch for a cheaper deal[7].

uSwitch.com is calling on the industry to improve transparency around broadband speeds so users understand what they can actually get in their own home.

Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband expert at uSwitch.com, says: “Broadband has long been a household essential but consumers are saying they’re still facing reliability issues.

“While not a magic bullet, superfast broadband – sometimes referred to as fibre or by a branded name – can significantly reduce speed and reliability issues. As it stands though, only 57% of consumers believe they can access superfast services in their area when in reality, 90% of premises should be able to access these speeds.

“Quite simply, most consumers aren’t bothered by the technical definitions of their broadband connection, they just want – and deserve – a reliable service that delivers value. However, consumer speed frustrations coupled with a lack of awareness around superfast availability shows more needs to be done to communicate what’s available to individual properties in a meaningful way.

“Since customers can’t ‘try superfast before they buy’, the next best solution is for the industry to improve transparency around speeds, showing what’s available from providers side-by-side, in a personalised way.  Consumers can currently do a postcode search to see if superfast is available to their property but actual speeds for the property need to be put in context. Industry needs to find ways to allow quick and easy comparison of the current and potential speeds available to the property, by provider, in order to evaluate and select the service that offers best value.

“The Government’s target of superfast being available to 95% of premises by the end of this year looms large. While continued investment in the UK’s broadband infrastructure is critical, we must make sure we don’t fall behind due to lack of uptake.”

Find out how you could save over £1,000 a year with uSwitch here.

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Notes to editors

uSwitch.com surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,004 nationally representative UK adults (aged 18+) from 28-31 July 2017. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

  1. Respondents were asked: ‘Have you experienced the following when using your home broadband’’ – 83% selected ‘Yes’ for either ‘Buffering when you’re trying to watch videos/listen to music’, ‘Slow loading pages’, ‘Crashing’, ‘Internet disconnecting’, ‘Slow download speeds’ and/or ‘Internet slows down when there is more than one user’. According to ONS, there are currently 51,767,000 UK adults. 83% of 51,767,000 = 42,984,176.
  2. Respondents were asked: ‘Have you experienced the following when using your home broadband, if so, indicate below how it makes you feel?’ – The net ‘yes’ response for ‘Slow loading pages’ was 71%,  the net ‘yes’ response for ‘Internet disconnecting’ was 67%, the net ‘yes’ response for ‘Buffering when you’re trying to watch videos/listen to music’ was 63% and the net ‘yes’ response for ‘Crashing’ was 54%
  3. According to Ofcom’s Connected Nations 2016 report, superfast broadband is now available to 90% of homes, and according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s Superfast Broadband Programme, the Government’s aim is to provide superfast broadband coverage to 95% of the UK by December 2017
  4. Respondents were asked: ‘Superfast broadband is a term used by internet providers that usually refers to fibre or cable broadband. The Government defines superfast as speeds greater than 24Mbps. Is it possible to get superfast broadband in your area?’ –  30% selected ‘Don’t know’ and 57% selected ‘Yes’
  5. Respondents were asked: ‘Which of these might be able to achieve ‘superfast’ broadband?’ – 26% selected ‘Don’t know’
  6. Respondents were asked: ‘Do you believe the following statement to be true or false? Fibre broadband is slower than ‘standard’ broadband’ – 94% correctly selected ‘False’
  7. Respondents were asked: ‘If you decided to switch from one provider to another, what would be the main deciding factor?’ – 19% selected ‘Faster internet’ and 38% selected ‘Cheaper internet’

About us

Launched in September 2000, uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, broadband, TV services, mobiles and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, car and home insurance. Last year we saved UK consumers over £278 million on their energy bills alone.

Customers can sign up to an account that automatically monitors the energy market and notifies them when they can move to a cheaper tariff, while broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and identify the best deal for their postcode.

The multi award-winning 'Switching Made Simple' app allows customers to compare energy, broadband, credit card, mobile and SIM-only deals – and uSwitch also has a UK contact centre manned by energy and broadband experts. Customers can post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH to receive a free call back and be guided through the comparison process, or they can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details.

uSwitch is owned by ZPG, which operates some of the UK’s most trusted digital brands that help empower smarter property and household decisions including Zoopla, Money, PrimeLocation and SmartNewHomes.

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