Broadband outages cost the UK £5bn in lost WFH time

angry 1Broadband providers’ claims that they were ready for the unprecedented demand from Brits working from home were a nonsense, with new figures showing 15 million homes suffered broadband outages lasting three hours or more in the past year – three times higher than the previous 12 months.

The data, compiled by comparison and switching service Uswitch.com, also shows the average home affected by broadband outages was left offline for more than two days over the course of 12 months.

Uswitch.com calculates that with millions relying on home broadband connections to do their job, the UK lost 16 million working days in the past year to outages. Broadband issues are estimated to have cost the economy almost £5bn in lost work time.

However, only two-fifths of customers who experienced outages actually complained to their provider about the issue; maybe they were happy to have a break from the daily grind. Yet more than a third (37%) who did complain said considered switching providers because of the issue.

When it comes to regional differences, Edinburgh was found to be the UK’s outage capital, suffering the longest time without broadband and losing 9 million hours of broadband over the year.

Meanwhile residents of Belfast suffered the least, with the city reporting only 11 hours of downtime in 12 months.
Uswitch.com noted that that was a major turnaround from last year’s research, which found that the Scottish capital experienced some of the fewest outages in the UK.

Bristol was England’s outage hotspot, with an average downtime of 109.3 hours, almost 13 hours more than second placed Leeds. Bristol was also identified as a clear outage leader in the previous year’s study.

However, more than a third of Brits (36%) turned to their mobile data when their broadband went down, and almost two-thirds of those (63%) burned through their whole monthly data allowance in a single outage.

Uswitch.com broadband expert Ernest Doku said: “Outages have affected the country like never before over the past 12 months. 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.”

Under an Ofcom automatic compensation programme, launched in 2019, broadband, landline and mobile customers no longer have to seek redress themselves, but instead receive refunds automatically for any loss or reduction of service.

BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet had to cough up more than £20m to customers in the first six months of the scheme, but the regulator was recently forced to intervene following a major customer backlash against Virgin Media, amid claims the company had reneged on its pledge.

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