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Could you survive a week without broadband?

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Written by: Emma Lunn
03/06/2021
More than a million Brits who moved house in the past year waited eight days on average for their broadband to be connected.

More than 390,000 house sales took place in the first three months of 2021 — the most in a quarter since 2007 — as people took stock of their living situation amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the large numbers of people currently working from home has thrown a spotlight on the amount of time movers are spending without a broadband connection.

According to research by Uswitch.com, nearly all of the major broadband providers had their customers waiting at least a week to be connected. Plusnet took the longest time, at almost 10 days, while Virgin Media customers had to wait just under seven.

There is a big difference in the time taken to connect broadband across the country. People waited just over five days in Edinburgh, but people living in Bristol had to endure almost 15 days without the internet before their connection was set up.

With millions of employees working from home in the past year, the delay in getting a broadband connection had a major impact on work duties. One in three (29%) movers exhausted their mobile data allowance as they tethered their computer to their phone. More than one in 10 (11%) had to take annual leave as they couldn’t do their work without broadband, while a similar proportion (10%) were reprimanded by their employer.

Uswitch found that home-movers had to call their broadband provider twice on average to set up their connection, but one in 10 needed to make five or more calls. A quarter (26%) felt the process had sped up after speaking to their provider, while a fifth (21%) received a refund for the time they spent without broadband.

Another fifth (20%) were given a dongle by their provider to access mobile broadband during the delay. Plusnet and Vodafone said they offer dongles or MiFi hubs to customers left without a connection, while BT customers are offered a 4G Mini Hub if their installation is delayed by more than two days. Relocating EE customers get the first month of their broadband free, plus 50GB data for their EE device.

However, almost half (46%) of people who had to wait for their internet received no additional help from their provider when they complained about the delay. Residents in rural areas were almost twice as likely to not receive extra help, with three fifths (62%) of those in countryside locations missing out compared to almost a third (32%) in urban areas.

Only a quarter of movers consider broadband speed a priority when moving to a new home, compared to three fifths (61%) who think about the size of property, and just over half (55%) who think about the house’s location.

Uswitch found that almost half (46%) of movers had to pay a fee related to changing their broadband. Just under a fifth (19%) had to pay to leave their old contract early, with the average person paying £84. More than a third (35%) had to pay an installation fee at their new home, which was £74.60 on average.

Catherine Hiley, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, said: “Moving house is one of life’s most stressful experiences, and a long wait for a broadband connection can only make the process more torturous.

“The amount of time it will take to get your new connection set up depends on your provider and where you live. So, spare a thought for the poor people of Bristol who spend more than two weeks on average without a connection.

“There are a few simple steps you can take to speed up the process. Get the ball rolling and alert your new provider as soon as you know your moving date. Check whether your current provider can offer you a service in the place you’re moving to. If not, you may need to pay a cancellation fee for any time left on your contract.

“You might find that you have to sign up to a new contract when keeping the same supplier, so search to see if you could get a better, cheaper deal elsewhere. If you depend on a reliable broadband for work, or other activities, it’s really important to check the speed you are likely to get at any new home.”

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