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Survey Claims 33% of UK Suffered Bad Internet During Lockdown

Monday, August 3rd, 2020 (3:24 pm) - Score 895
computer broadband technical problem uk

A new telecoms experience study from Quadient, which is based on an Opinium survey of 2,000 adults conducted during June 2020, has found that 33% of UK consumers suffered from a “bad internet connection” during lockdown (COVID-19). A reminder, perhaps, of the need to invest in reliable and resilient networks.

The survey also found that 31% of home broadband customers, and 32% of mobile data customers, have “either switched their provider in the past year or are planning to” (we assume “planning to” is a reference to next year, rather than the past). However, we know from Ofcom’s data that the real figure for annual switching is often closer to half this.

NOTE: The survey found that consumers spend 7 hours and 18 minutes online a day.

Perhaps of more importance is the fact that 81% of consumers are confident they could either switch provider if they wanted to, or have already done so and found the process simple. On the flip side, just 11% of broadband customers and 6% of mobile customers are only with their current provider because they think “switching would be too difficult.”

In other words, many consumers are clearly willing and able to vote with their feet, even if it doesn’t always work out that way.

Quadient broadband mobile survey 2020 uk

Furthermore, the study noted that providers don’t always get their focus right. For example, 59% of mobile users believe that, rather than focusing on 5G as the “next big thing“, mobile operators should focus more of their attention and resources on customer service and improving their existing services. Easier said than done because operators are quickly chastised when they fell behind on technology.

Similarly, when respondents were asked whether they thought the O2 and Virgin Media merger would have a positive or negative impact on customer service, only 10% felt it would get better. Meanwhile over 50% felt it wouldn’t improve and 35% didn’t know.

Survey Statement

To avoid this, service providers need to be able to give customers the support and customer experiences they need. For instance, telcos have to not only ensure any issues are fixed as quickly as possible, but also keep customers informed so that they know what is happening. This in turn means transforming customer communication and adopting new technologies and channels. For example, most consumers accept that call centres are under-staffed and over-stretched in the current pandemic, and are more open than ever to using technologies such as self-service tools and chatbots to seek help.

Any disruption to broadband services can have profound effects on people’s ability to work, study, entertain themselves, or keep in contact with loved ones. Yet almost 9 million households across the UK have suffered issues with their broadband during lockdown – with consequences from incomplete shopping orders, to cutting off people living on their own.

Ensuring a good customer experience is therefore crucial as connectivity has become a vital part of our lives in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. UK consumers see broadband as the third most important service they receive, only behind electricity and water, and spend seven hours a day online over home and mobile broadband.

While service providers cannot prevent every single outage, they need to do everything possible to make sure that customers receive the level of service they expect. While consumers are somewhat more forgiving of service outages, particularly during a period of national emergency, they will still expect and appreciate being kept informed.

One productive suggestion from the report is a proposal for providers to consider pro-actively identifying all those customers likely to be affected by a major service outage and automatically notifying them, such as via SMS (as opposed to social media posts that only some will see). “Not only of the outage itself, but also with updates on when services are expected to return to normal,” said Quadient’s report.

In reality some outages can be quite sporadic and thus it would be all too easy to end up informing customers about an outage that might not affect their specific service. But broadly we’re on-board with the idea of providers doing more to keep customers informed as, sadly, many fail to get this right (Virgin Media are a particularly common example as their main Service Status page often goes down during big outages).

However, there are some caveats with that 33% “bad internet connection” claim. Sadly the results don’t drill down deeply enough to examine the root cause. Such issues could thus also be just a reflection of the customer’s package choice (e.g. choosing a slower package/network when better options are available) or other issues, such as slow WiFi, a congested / faulty home network or even performance issues with remote internet servers.

Suffice to say that it’s easy to blame the broadband and mobile provider, but it’s not always their fault.

Leave a Comment
12 Responses
  1. Avatar CarlT says:

    Be interesting to know how this 33% during lockdown compares to any other period along that same timeframe.

  2. Avatar Buggerlugs says:

    Indeed, one could easily argue that 33% of all broadband customers have problems during most weeks when covid wasn’t an issue.

  3. Avatar The Facts says:

    How does this fit in with the 10% that have to wait an hour for a webpage to load?

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      They couldn’t load the survey so didn’t respond.

  4. Avatar FibreBubble says:

    Virgin had bad reliability during lockdown.

    1. Avatar Moss says:

      So did Sky

    2. Avatar JmJohnson says:

      I don’t recall a large area Sky outage but Virgin did have a couple.

  5. Avatar Mel says:

    I wonder what percentage of the bad Internet connections were actually the result of wifi conflicts with all their neighbour’s wifi, with so many at home using the internet at the same time.

    During the early days of lockdown, 2.4ghz was pretty much unusable here, constantly dropping out, and also had more APs showing up than normal, like phones and printers, and even the bottom band of 5ghz seemed slow – possibly because a few of my neighbours have mesh networks all are using the same channels.

  6. Avatar Brian says:

    The rural “too far from the cabinet” tend to have poor broadband all year round. Ten years of promises giv either the choice of 3.5Mbps ADSL2+ or patchy 4G.

  7. Avatar Stats4Stats says:

    I’m always sceptical of the wording in these surveys and how the question is asked to joe bloggs.

    Likely loads of people are having local wifi issues as everyone’s at home using all the devices as well as neighbours so the frequency’s will be jam packed very little an operator can do about that.

    There connection might be rock solid but if you cant get to it its not working in the eyes of the consumer.

    1. Avatar GNewton says:

      While it’s certainly true that a high proportion of these issues are due to incorrectly configured or poor indoors equipment such as Wifi, that still leaves a large number of genuine line problems. It is a sad reflection on how far behind current standards this country truly is with its lack of a widespread reliable fibre network. Copper lines weren’t designed for modern data communication needs.

      Imagine you had such a high rate of problems with power lines, water pipes etc, there would be a huge outcry. Yet it is sad to see that most people are willing to put up with poor quality broadband services.

    2. Avatar FibreBubble says:

      >>Yet it is sad to see that most people are willing to put up with poor quality broadband services.

      TBF Virgin could not have forecast the pandemic and I’m sure they did the best they could.

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