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Ofcom 2020 Study Ranks UK Mobile and Broadband ISPs by Quality

Friday, August 21st, 2020 (10:14 am) - Score 6,198
consumer satisfaction broadband rating

Ofcom UK has published their 2020 survey of broadband and mobile service quality, call waiting times, complaints and install times among the largest ISPs and mobile operators. Overall TalkTalk attracted the lowest satisfaction for home broadband (78%) again, while Three UK were the same for mobile (89%).

As usual the annual report is based on data that the telecoms regulator has gathered (mostly during January 2020) via a combination of consumer research (survey of people and social media posts etc.), submitted complaints and some new statistics that have been obtained directly from broadband, landline phone and mobile operators. Suffice to say this won’t reflect much impact from the COVID-19 crisis, which came later.

Overall 85% of fixed broadband ISP consumers claimed to be satisfied with their service (up from 83% last year), which compares with 93% for mobile (unchanged) and 85% for landline phone (down from 86%). Subscribers to Plusnet reported the highest levels of satisfaction with broadband (93%), while TalkTalk scored the lowest (78%).

In terms of mobile satisfaction, Three UK secured the lowest score (89%) but it must be said that this is generally pretty good and other mobile operators simply did even better on this specific ranking. Otherwise we’ve gone one step further than Ofcom’s report and kept a log of how customer satisfaction has changed over time (see below). As usual the big caveat below is that Ofcom are only looking at the largest providers.

Consumer Broadband Satisfaction (Change Over Time)

  BT EE Plusnet Sky Broadband TalkTalk Virgin Media
2020 86% 88% 93% 86% 78% 85%
2019 80% 87% 86% 83% 79% 85%
2018 79% 79% 86% 83% 72% 83%
2017 84% no data no data 88% 83% 91%

Consumer Mobile Satisfaction (Change Over Time)

  EE giffgaff O2 Tesco Three UK Virgin Media Vodafone
2020 93% 95% 93% 97% 89% 93% 90%
2019 93% 96% 92% 90% 92% 91% 93%
2018 93% 98% 92% 97% 89% 86% 88%
2017 92% no data 93% 96% 89% 94% 89%

The full results can be found below and you can skip past this if you’d rather read about the service provision or repair performance of the major fixed line broadband ISPs. Among other things this reveals that Virgin Media had the longest call waiting times (4:26 mins) of all broadband providers (i.e. when contacting support), while Three UK (2:37 mins) did the same for mobile operators but by a much smaller margin.


New Service Provision and Repairs (Fixed Lines)

Ofcom’s study also examined how long it takes providers to deliver a new broadband or landline phone service to customers, as well as how long they may take to repair. Overall, 87% of all landline and broadband orders were delivered by the date agreed with the customer, which drops to 86% when customers were moving home but staying with the same ISP.

On average, it took 11 days to complete a new landline or broadband order (either a new service, home move or a change to service), which is 4 days faster than last year. Virgin Media delivered the shortest wait of 4 days and after that BT were the next shortest at 10 days, while everybody else hovered between 13 and 16 days (the slowest at 16 days was the Post Office).

Meanwhile the average time to change provider is 14 days (Virgin Media was the quickest on 12 days), although this is unlikely to fall significantly below 14 days as Ofcom’s rules specify a similar minimum transfer period for most switches between providers that use the Openreach and KCOM networks.

NOTE: Some 4% of orders (300,000) took more than 4 weeks to be delivered and less than 1% of new installations took more than 8 weeks!

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said:

“Checking the quality of a phone or broadband provider’s customer service can be the difference between you signing up to a company that keeps you connected, or one that falls short.

Our research helps people to easily compare how providers perform on customer service, so they can choose the one that’s best for them.”

One key change from last year is that we’re now able to see the impact from Ofcom’s new new system for automatic compensation (here), which compensates consumers by £8 per day for delayed repairs following a loss of broadband (assuming it isn’t fixed within 2 working days). Missed appointments can also attract compensation of £25 and a delay to the start of a new service would be £5 per day.

Interestingly almost all of the providers included in Ofcom’s analysis took an average of 2 days or less to resolve faults (EE was the only one to take 3 days or less, while Virgin Media took just 1 day). As for missed appointments, Openreach missed just 1.4% of new install appointments (1.9% last year) and 1.5% of repairs (1.8% last year).

By comparison Virgin Media missed 0.7% of all appointments for installs (0.1% last year) and 1.7% for repairs (0.7% last year). KCOM also missed 0.1% of installation appointments and 3.5% of repairs in 2019

Across the industry, providers received about 46 reported faults per 1,000 fixed line broadband and landline customers per month during the relevant reporting period (July – December 2019). On average, just under half of fixed-line faults reported to providers were identified to be within the customer’s own domain (e.g. a faulty router or home wiring etc.).

The automatic compensation scheme saw over £20.7 million (£9.7m on delayed repairs, £1.6m on missed appointments and £9.5m on delayed installs) paid out to 600,000 broadband and landline customers who experienced problems with their services. This is more than double the £8m that Ofcom estimated was paid out over an equivalent 6-month period before the scheme was in place.

NOTE: Participating providers in the compensation scheme have now committed to annual increases in compensation in-line with inflation (CPI) from April 2021. Sadly Plusnet, Vodafone and EE continue to drag their heels over an earlier promise to join the scheme (here).

Ofcom’s Service Quality Report 2020

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
13 Responses
  1. Buggerlugz says:

    Shame they don’t look at mobile home broadband customers separately to mobile service quality. I think that would yield a very different set of results.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Probably because these days it’s difficult to separate mobile data (via Smartphone) from dedicated mobile broadband. You can use the SIM from your handset in a router and often get much the same result.

    2. Dave says:

      I’d say Three have them paid off, the results will always be skewed to ‘appear’ realistic yet are totally fabricated

      The Ombudsman and majority of sites are unfortunately bias and want to show the the UK as having a much better network than it actually has.

      The UK is in all intent much lower down the world rankings – I would say likely closer to the bottom if all the PR was stripped away.

    3. Buggerlugz says:

      I’m tempted to agree with you there Dave.

  2. dragon says:

    You might actually get better results from the smartphone, a lot of the recent ones have far more capable LTE chipsets than the routers do.

    1. Dave says:

      You really haven’t checked the forums.

      The majority of people here have tested both handset and router.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      dragon does actually make a fair point and it’s one I’ve highlight before about the quirks of mobile performance. On the other hand if you have a router then you hopefully also have a properly setup external antenna (not everybody does of course), which is a different ball game. Getting that antenna setup correctly is of course another challenge entirely.

  3. Paul says:

    That average waiting call time from plusnet 3.48 that must be hours
    Plus net have been horrendous ever since they call centre wasn’t 24 hours anymore

    1. j karna says:

      In total, it took me four hours to get through to their cancellation department as I was on ASDL+2 and moved to Community Fibre’s 400 Mbps symmetric FTTP.
      Plus.net advised me numerous times that they had no plans for FTTP.

    2. The Facts says:

      PlusNet used to be excellent, then BT bought them and worked their Fecal Touch magic.

  4. Richard says:

    I’ve been with Talk Talk for years.
    Whilst working from home their fibre has been rock solid, whilst Sky and Virgin have been lousy, well according to work colleagues!

  5. Peter ALLAM says:

    ALWAYS ensure you have the Provider’s full UK Poastal Address before signing up.If you encounter lengthy phone reply times or problems with them write your letter to the Provider’s Chairman (can be done whilst waiting on the phone) & send it via Royal Mail’s Proof of Posting at no extra cost.

  6. Karen Prest says:

    What a load of tosh. PLUSNET didn’t get my service right from the start. Internet was intermittent and before they fixed it they terminated the account and charged early termination charges. It took 5 months for them to transfer my landline and they boast that they are not part of the automatic compensation scheme.

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