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11 million Brits hit by broadband outages in the last year costing the economy £1.3 billion

  •  Almost 11 million consumers experienced broadband outages of three or more hours over the last 12 months[1] as half of UK workers (51%) continued to work from home[2]

  • UK workers were forced to spend almost two days offline[3], costing the economy £1.3 billion[4] 

  • One in ten home workers (10%) reveal poor broadband has led to complaints from their boss[5] and another 8% lost out on jobs or promotions[6]

  • Home connection concerns mean one in ten (10%) prefer to tackle key projects in the office[7]

  • Half of consumers (52%)[8] complained to their providers about an outage and a  quarter of those who did (23%) received compensation[9] 

  • Nottingham is the outage capital of the UK, with residents spending the most downtime due to disruptions[10], ahead of Southampton and Manchester[11] 

  • With thousands set to become out of contract in July, Uswitch.com calls on broadband customers to look for a new deal to improve experience and save money. 

Broadband outages hitting UK’s home workers have cost the economy £1.3 billion over the past year[4], according to the annual outages report from Uswitch.com, the comparison and switching service.

Nearly 11 million consumers were affected by an internet outage that left them offline for three hours or more in the last 12 months[1] — with those working remotely bearing the brunt of service disruptions.

One in seven Brits (16%)who reported a significant outage say it stopped them from working[4], and those affected lost on average nearly two days of internet service during the year[3].

And with half of employees (51%) working from home at least once a week[2], internet problems are landing some in their boss’s bad books, with one in ten (10%) admitting they had faced questions or comments regarding the quality of their broadband connection[5].

Yet one in eight people (13%) say the cost-of-living crisis means they have to work from home more often - regardless of their broadband’s reliability - to save money[12].

When tackling important projects, 10% of workers said they were more likely to go into the office as they didn’t trust their home connection[7], while 8% felt they had missed out on jobs or promotions due to unreliable broadband[6].

Nottingham is the UK’s outage capital with residents who experienced service disruptions spending the longest time offline over the course of a year and losing 9.2 million hours of broadband annually[10]. The city was followed by Southampton and Manchester[11]

While the number of people affected by outages fell compared with last year, those who did suffer breaks in service were more motivated to complain. More than half (52%) who suffered a long outage contacted their provider[8], and a quarter of those who complained (23%) received compensation for their trouble[9].

One in seven broadband users (14%) say they have noticed their service getting worse in the past year[13], yet of those who suffered an outage, just 12% were considering switching providers as a result, down from a third (37%) in 2021[14].

Almost seven million Brits are out of contract with their broadband provider[15], and thousands more contracts are due to end in July due to a spike in broadband deals taken out in January sales during lockdown 2021[16]. 

With out-of-contract broadband prices often more expensive than current fibre deals, it’s important that consumers switch to a new plan when their deal ends. Otherwise they could end up overspending by an average of £162 a year[17] on poor or slow broadband.

Ernest Doku, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, comments: “Misfiring home broadband can quickly become a huge annoyance, given that video calls have become essential for many remote workers. 

“Stable broadband should not be the thing that you worry about when you are trying to impress a new employer. Bosses will not be filled with confidence if their first impression is buffering and internet drop outs.

“When people reach the point that their bosses are commenting on their connection issues, it’s time to consider an upgrade. You may find that better service often comes at a cheaper price when you have been with the same provider for a number of years. 

“Competition is rife in the broadband industry and the price gap between standard fixed-line internet and full fibre services - which offer more consistent connectivity and superfast download speeds of up to 1Gb - is now minimal.

“Many households who took out a broadband deal during lockdown in the 2021 January sales will now be reaching the end of their contract, so it’s the perfect time to shop around, especially if you rely on your home internet to do your job.”

  

Uswitch advice: what to do when your internet goes down:

  1. Check your router: Often the source of an outage might be with your equipment rather than an external fault so it’s worth performing a quick router reset and checking your Wi-Fi connections to see if that solves the problem.

  2. Status update: Many of the UK’s main broadband providers, including Sky, Virgin Media and BT have a dedicated page on their website to show service disruptions. Visit these and input your information and you should see if the problem is specific to your connection or there are wider network issues. More generally a website like Down Detector can show if others are reporting issues on your network or if a particular website or app is offline.

  3. Back-up plan: If your broadband is down due to cable issues or a specific problem with your provider, you could be without service for several hours so it’s worth making sure you have another option if you need internet access. Consider using your mobile phone’s data allowance, either directly or by tethering it to a computer - whereby your handset becomes a portable router enabling you to use its 4G connection in the same way that you would use standard broadband.

  4. Watch your speed: As well as outages it’s worth keeping your eye on any slowdown in your internet connection. When you take out a home broadband deal, your provider has to guarantee a minimum service speed, so perform regular speed tests to check you’re getting what you pay for. If a network issue means your speed is consistently slow - and cannot be fixed within 30 days - you should be able to leave without penalty. 

  5. Long delay, get paid: If you’re experiencing regular broadband issues, don’t hesitate to contact your provider to see if they can help. If your connection goes down for more than two days you could be entitled to compensation of £8.40 a day, according to Ofcom.  

  6. Still not happy?: It’s time to switch. Run a comparison at Uswitch.com to see which alternative broadband packages are available to suit your needs.

For more advice on what to do when your internet is down visit Uswitch’s guide to broadband outages.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Sarika Patel
Phone: 07815 635259
Email: sarika.patel@rvu.co.uk
Twitter: @UswitchPR

Notes to editors:

Opinium surveyed a sample of 2,000 UK adults from the 10th to 14th June 2022. Results were weighted to reflect a nationally representative criteria.
1. Respondents were asked ‘Have you lost your broadband connection or had it drop out in the last 12 months?’ 56% of respondents said that they had experienced an outage of some kind. 56% of UK adults = 56% of 52,890,000 population = 29,618,400 adults who have experienced an outage of any kind. 37% of these people reported that their broadband had cut out for more than 3 hours because of a legitimate outage caused by a “power cut”, “broadband provider had an outage”, “damage to cables external to my property” or “routine maintenance to cables external to my property”. 37% of 29,618,400 adults = 10,958,808 UK adults who have had a genuine outage for 3+ hours. 
2. Respondents surveyed who worked were asked “How many days do you work from home?” 49% responded that they did not work from home at all, with 51% working at least one day a month from home. 3. Respondents were asked if they had experienced a legitimate outage, that is one which was caused by a “power cut”, “broadband provider had an outage”, “damage to cables external to my property” or “routine maintenance to cables external to my property”. Those surveyed who worked at least one day a week from home (51%) were asked how long they were left offline by legitimate outages in the last 12 months and the average length of time workers experienced outages for power cuts (11.5 hours), broadband provider outage (19 hours), cable damage (5.14 hours), and routine maintenance (9.6 hours) were added giving a total of 45.24 hours home workers were left online in the last 12 months.  
4. Respondents who had a network outage were asked if they agreed with the statement: “It prevented me from working.” 16% agreed. The research found that home workers experienced a total of 6,631,609 days of legitimate outages out of the UK total of 19,985,284. 16% of the 6,631,609 days = 1,061,057 work days. 1,061,057 days = 25,465,378 work hours of downtime a year. According to the ONS in 2020, the average working week consisted of 33.6 hours. 33.6 divided by 5 = 6.72 hours worked a day. 25,465,378 / 6.72 = 3,789,490 working days lost a year to broadband problems caused by a problem outside of the home. According to the OECD, the UK’s hourly GDP was $61.50. 25,465,378 x $61.50 = $1,566,120,747 Using XE.com, $1,566,120,747 = £1,281,496,070 cost to the economy by outages that stopped people working from home over the last year.
5. Respondents who worked from home at least one day a week were asked, is the following statement true to you: “I have faced questions or comments from my boss regarding the quality of my broadband connection.” 10% agreed with the statement.
6. Respondents who worked from home at least one day a week were asked, is the following statement true to you: “I have missed out on job opportunities or promotions because of my unreliable internet.” 8% agreed with the statement
7. Respondents who worked from home at least one day a week were asked, is the following statement true to you: “I am more likely to go to the office when I have important work to do - as I don’t trust my home internet.” 10% agreed with the statement.
8. Respondents who reported an outage in the last year were asked if they complained to their provider. A net 52% said they had complained.
9. Respondents who reported an outage in the last year were asked if they complained to their provider. Of the 572 people who had,135 said they received compensation for the downtime they had experienced, 135/572 = 23.6%.
10. Survey data cross-breaked for different UK cities showing legitimate outages caused by a “power cut” “broadband provider had an outage” “damage to cables external to my property” or “routine maintenance to cables external to my property”. For Nottingham the average number of hours of downtime experienced by residents hit by legitimate outages (70.2 hours) was multiplied by the percentage of affected residents (39%) and multiplied by Nottingham’s estimated population of 337,100 to give a total of 9,229,123 hours lost to legitimate outages.
11. See Uswitch table in release 
12. Respondents who worked from home at least one day a week were asked, is the following statement true to you: “The cost of living crisis means I spend more time working from home - even if I have a broadband outage.” 13% agreed with the statement. 
13. Respondents were asked if they felt the following statement was true about broadband outages: “I have noticed the amount of broadband outages has increased recently.” 14% agreed with the statement.
14. Respondents were asked if they felt the following statement was true about broadband outages: “I am tempted to switch broadband provider due to my experience of outages.” 12% agreed with the statement.
15. Opinium surveyed a sample of 2,000 UK adults from the 17th to 19th January 2022. Results were weighted to reflect a nationally representative criteria. Respondents were asked, ‘are you currently in a contract with your broadband provider? Please think of ‘in contract’ as currently being tied to a contract that has not yet expired, usually over a 12 or 24-month period’, 75% of respondents said ‘yes - in contract with broadband’, meaning 25% are not in contract. According to the ONS, there were an estimated 27.8 million households in the UK in 2020, 25% of households = 6,950,000. Brits are currently overpaying by £162 when out-of-contract, according to Uswitch data. 6,950,000 x £162 = £1,125,900,000.
16. Based on Uswitch internal switching data.
17. www.uswitch.com/faqs/savings-messages/

About Uswitch - saving you money for 20 years

Uswitch is the UK’s top comparison website for home services switching. We’ve saved consumers £2.5 billion off their energy bills since we launched in September 2000, and also help people find a better deal on their broadband, mobile and TV.

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