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Low Spec Bundled Routers Discourage New Broadband ISP Customers

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 (1:53 am) - Score 588

The latest survey of 910 ISPreview.co.uk readers has found that a little over half of respondents (55.1%) get their Internet connection hardware (router) included as part of a broadband ISP bundle and over a third (38.4%) say that the quality of this kit is “very important” to their choice of provider.

Our readers might recall that we ran a related survey a few months back (here), which among other things revealed that most respondents felt as if Virgin Media and TalkTalk offered the best choice of bundled broadband router with their packages (out of the biggest ISPs). We were keen to dig into this issue in a little more depth and so ran a different study.

The new survey reveals where most respondents get their routers and also which of the primary features they tend to desire the most. Perhaps unsurprisingly the most important feature was the need for fast WiFi (including support for 5GHz), which was followed someway behind by a desire for the router to offer Gigabit LAN ports.

Where did you get your current home broadband router?
Bundled by ISP – 55.1%
Purchased separately – 42.5%
Other – 2.3%

How important is the quality of an ISPs bundled router to your choice of provider?
Very important – 38.4%
Not important – 33.7%
Average importance – 25.6%
Unsure – 2.1%

Which of these features is the most important for ISPs to include on their routers?
Fast WiFi 2.4 + 5GHz – 50.8%
Gigabit LAN Ports – 26.2%
Advanced Admin UI – 14.1%
Other – 6.3%
USB Ports – 2.3%

Clearly consumers are paying attention to the hardware that comes bundled with their broadband package, which appears to confirm our earlier hypothesis that some Internet providers could be missing out by either not promoting their existing hardware well enough (most ISPs provide very little detail about their bundled kit) or failing to offer a router that’s at least on-par with their competitors.

The more technically savvy consumers, those who can tell the difference between things like 802.11n and 802.11ac WiFi, are obviously the most likely to pay attention to a bundled router’s features and capability. Never the less it seems increasingly clear that consumers are now more generally factoring in the capability of bundled hardware with their decisions.

Admittedly many ISPs will give you a budget device, while more capable kit can always be purchased separately. Never the less a few ISPs, such as TalkTalk, EE, BT and Virgin Media, appear to have reasonably capable routers with their top-end packages. By comparison some other providers, such as Sky Broadband and PlusNet, have fallen behind (e.g. no 5GHz WiFi or Gigabit LAN).

Meanwhile this month’s new survey looks at broadband ISP produced marketing mail and asks how much related junk (posted letters) has come through your letterbox over the past few months? Vote Here.

Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar John Miles says:

    The latest survey of 910 ISPreview.co.uk readers…

    The new survey reveals where most consumers get their routers…

    I suggest that ‘ISPreview readers’ are not ‘most consumers’ but are a group that is much more informed and selective than ‘most consumers’. If so the survey tells us something about informed broadband users but very little about the public at large.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      So far as I can tell from the data and past research, the majority of people who pass through ISPreview.co.uk’s pages are those looking for help, information and guidance on some very common / basic issues.

      I’d say only the very regular and most vocal readers / industry folk, equating to about a third, would be categorised as “more informed and selective”.

      In all likelihood that may give us a greater proportion of IT minded folk than other sites, but they’re not in the majority. Mind you we’d like to think that after reading ISPr they do become more informed and selective.

    2. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      It’s a general problem with many, if not the great majority, of special interest websites that self-selecting surveys, like this, are often presented as being generally representative. As the general election showed, opinion surveys are not easy to carry out, especially when extrapolating to the population at large.

      That said, I think that good WiFi and Ethernet support are going to be of general interest to consumers so they might well play a part in selecting an ISP. Of course, the ISPs are well aware of this hence some have made a big point of promoting their modem/router features. Advance admin and good diagnostics, probably rather less so, although I think it’s actually rather important. At least it is when things go wrong for those technically minded enough to be able to interpret the results.

      So nothing controversial in the specifics in the item.

  2. Avatar Paul says:

    Something this article hasn’t mentioned is reliability and compatibility. This was quite important to me when I moved from TalkTalk to PlusNet. Although the PlusNet router doesn’t have as many bells and whistles at the TalkTalk router (e.g. 5GHz as the article mentions), I’ve found the WiFi connection far more reliable with the PlusNet router. I think the TalkTalk router had some compatibility issues with Apple products as although TalkTalk did send a replacement, this did not fix many of the issues we were having. Although ISPs can’t be expected to test their routers with every possible laptop, tablet and phone, I think they need to be mindful of compatibility with major brands like Apple, Samsung, Acer, HP etc. to keep their customers happy!

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