Nearly 15 million Brits suffered a major broadband outage during a year when reliable connectivity has never proved to be so vital.
Video meetings, checking in with loved ones, purchasing essentials, awkward virtual quizzes, getting help when needed, and keeping updated on the latest advice and developments all required a dependable internet connection.
However, research from Uswitch found that broadband outages have tripled in the last year.
Ernest Doku, Broadband Expert at Uswitch, 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 made worse when a provider fails to communicate with their customers properly.”
The advantage of increased home-working and schooling is that an outage will generally impact a single employee or pupil, rather than an entire team or class. However, they’re embarrassing when they happen and broadband issues are estimated to have cost the economy almost £5 billion in lost work time.
Here are the worst places in the UK for broadband outages 2019-20 vs 2020-21:
|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|
Edinburgh suffered the longest average downtime over the past year, losing around nine million hours over the year. This is a major contrast to the previous year when the Scottish capital experienced among the shortest outages.
In the event of an outage, Doku advises:
“The first thing to do if you think you’re suffering an outage is to check whether it’s a problem with your router, which can often be fixed with a simple reset.
If it’s clear that the issues are beyond your control, contact your provider and they will be able to inform you of any problems in your area and, hopefully, an estimated time for a resolution.
If your connection goes down for more than two days you could be entitled to compensation of just over £8 a day. Most of the UK’s big broadband providers are signed up to Ofcom’s auto-compensation scheme, so you should be covered. These rules were relaxed during the pandemic as providers focused on keeping the country running, but from July the scheme will be up and running again.”
British consumers are showing incredible patience with their problematic service provider, with just four in ten making complaints. However, ISPs shouldn’t get too comfortable as over a third (37%) are tempted to switch broadband providers because of issues.
Nick Baker, Broadband Expert at Uswitch, comments:
“Lockdown life has made all of us rely on our broadband more than ever, whether that’s for work, or shopping, entertainment and keeping in touch with friends and family.
Losing that vital link with the outside world is no minor inconvenience. So internet providers who fail to communicate effectively with their customers during an outage can make a bad situation worse if they leave people in limbo, not knowing when their service might be back online.”
It’s always good to have a backup option ready in preparation for an outage, particularly if your broadband connection is prone. Exploring mobile tethering options via your smartphone or a dongle/MiFi would be prudent.
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