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Five million people suffer broadband outage in last year

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Nearly five million people suffered a broadband outage lasting more than three hours in the past year. Here are your rights.

The average household experiencing an outage was unable to get online for 29 hours, losing the economy five million working days, according to comparison and switching site Uswitch.com.

It found that more than a quarter of people (28%) experienced a network outage during working hours, particularly frustrating as many are still exclusively working from home during the pandemic.

In total, outages caused by damage to cables or due to provider issues are costing the economy £1.5bn a year.

Uswitch listed Bristol as Britain’s outage capital, with residents suffering the longest time without broadband. Bristolians lost almost three million hours due to outages in the past year.

But the longest single outage was in Leeds, West Yorkshire, notching up 54.4 hours in total.

However, those living in Norwich have the highest proportion of residents (15%) affected by their internet going down while Londoners reported the most number of outages at seven over a year.

At the other end of the scale, Cardiff experienced the fewest outages in the UK with just 1% of people having lost a connection.

When it comes to outages, two in five people resorted to using their mobile phone data or tethered their phone to their laptop or computer while 5% used their neighbour’s Wi-Fi instead.

For a quarter, they simply had to stop what they were doing.

However, consumers do have rights when it comes to broadband outages.

The first thing to check is whether there is a network outage or whether there is a problem with the home broadband kit, including the router. Customers should call up their provider to check if it’s a unique problem to their household.

See YourMoney.com’s guide: Your rights if you’re fed up with slow and patchy broadband at home for a step-by-step guide to getting your speed and connection sorted.

Nick Baker, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, said: “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. Internet providers that 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.

“If you believe you have experienced an outage, do not hesitate to contact your provider to make sure the problem is not being caused by a simple problem with your router. Quite often, your provider can tell you over the phone if the problem is unique to your own connection.

“It is worth making a contingency plan so you can keep working if your broadband goes down, whether that’s tethering to your mobile or preparing in advance by downloading essential work and favourite shows to your computer to use offline.”