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Zen Internet Named Best UK ISP in Which? 2021 Broadband Survey

Saturday, March 20th, 2021 (7:18 am) - Score 4,416
golden cup broadband and telecoms award

Consumer magazine Which? has today published the results from their latest annual 2021 reader survey of broadband ISP satisfaction, which saw Zen Internet come top with a reduced customer satisfaction score of 70% (down from 84%) in an otherwise problematic year, where 69% of respondents suffered connectivity problems.

The results are based off a survey of 4,478 UK adults (Which? readers) with a broadband service, which was conducted between 14th December 2020 and 6th January 2021. Fieldwork was carried out online by Savanta and the data includes a nationally representative sample.

NOTE: 71% said they had used home broadband more since the COVID-19 outbreak.

However, 2020 (and some of 2021 too) was very much the year of COVID-19, which forced many people to work and play more from home during a protracted period of increased restrictions. As a result of that people will have been more likely to spot and feel the impact from any problems with their internet connection.

Indeed, 69% did suffer some form of connectivity problem, which is stated to be “significantly” higher than their previous survey (no comparative figure is given). Overall it’s noted that 59% experienced very slow speeds and 53% suffered “frequent” connection drops. Almost half of respondents (48%) reported they had been left without a connection for more than a day and 44% said they had been disconnected for more than an hour.

Once again Zen still managed to come out as the best performing UK ISP with an overall customer satisfaction score of 70%, but equally there’s no escaping that this is a dramatic fall from the 84% they received in last year’s study (we’ve seen an increase in complaints during 2020/21 too).

Zen also “narrowly missed out” on Which?’s Recommended Provider (WRP) status as it has not yet signed up to Ofcom’s latest codes of practice on broadband speeds.

Which?’s Best UK ISP Survey Results for 2021
Zen Internet 70%
BT 57%
TalkTalk 54%
Sky Broadband 54%
Virgin Media 53%
John Lewis 47%

NOTE: This is only a sample of the ISPs in their full survey, which you have to pay to see.

The survey also noted that, despite “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) being available to 96% of the UK, only around a quarter of respondents are still using a “standard broadband” connection (this roughly matches the remaining c.20% base of ADSL users in the market).

However, it’s worth remembering that not all connectivity issues will be the fault of your broadband line, with various problems also likely to be caused by poor WiFi, local network faults and congestion, issues with remote internet services or services and so forth. Sadly, it’s not always easy for a typical end-user to identify the true cause of the problems they see.

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Mark Jackson
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.
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38 Responses
  1. Avatar exjolt says:

    plusnet 1%

  2. Avatar DaveD says:

    I am with zen and haven’t had so much as a blip, very happy with them.

  3. Avatar JP says:

    I remain sceptical of these review companies, they can all be brought in one way another (not saying that has happened)

    But mainly they don’t really ask a huge sample size and for the amount of years these various brands release “who’s the best claims” I’ve never been contacted to ask for my opinion on my services in anyway.

    1. Avatar ian whiteley says:

      i am with zen best by a mile tried sky bt loads issues with zen very reliable and good router

    2. Avatar JP says:

      Great, as I said I’m not saying Zen are rubbish, (Though personally wouldn’t say they’re the best as there is better ISP’s, and lets be honest they all sell the same stuff)

    3. Avatar 125us says:

      Unless you subscribe to Which? you are unlikely to be consulted for a Which? reader survey.

    4. Avatar 125us says:

      They’re really not all the same. Different ISPs run different networks. The amount and quality of peering, where and with whom make a big difference. The quality of a network’s engineering becomes apparent when it’s placed under stress.

    5. Avatar Anna says:

      Zen billed me for 6 months after I had left (and joined AAISP who are the best, hands down the end – but never on these paid for surveys) and when I refused to pay put Westbrook onto me – they are scum and I will never use them again.

    6. Avatar Mike says:

      @anna

      Did you leave mid-contract?

    7. Avatar Spurple says:

      Which can’t really be bought, because their members pay for the reviews.

      Go ahead, go to which.co.uk and you’ll find that you cannot access the full reviews until you become a member, which is a paid subscription.

  4. Avatar Dave says:

    Zen use the big ISPs to backhaul all their traffic and use BT at the exchange. So it’s quite comical to see they’re so highly rated when they’re running over other ISPs network.

    1. Avatar Bob says:

      You’re slightly misunderstanding how it works.

    2. Avatar Kyle says:

      Oh, dear.

    3. Avatar JP says:

      Depends where Dave is really!

      I’ve used Zen in the past and it was more reliable than Plusnet however they had equipment in the exchange at the time, but it also suffered a few issues so its nothing special but the support during the problem times was good.

      But I do know of Zen connections that have suffered where relying on BT Wholesale to peer with their network.

    4. Avatar 125us says:

      How would you use an ISP for backhaul? Backhaul happens at layer two. Telephone exchanges aren’t involved in switching IP traffic. Are you talking about peering or do you not know how this works?

    5. Avatar CarlT says:

      Must be imagining being on-net and using Zen’s own network from exchange onwards for one of my lines.

      Lots more than just carrier/wholesale network to how good ISPs are. Support, peering and transit, LNS reliability to mention 3.

    6. Avatar Steve says:

      Having seen Zen’s cabinet in our local exchange I’d have to disagree with you a little there.

    7. Avatar John says:

      @ 125us – Exchange backhaul is often not at layer 2. Also several “ISP” offer wholesale backhaul connectivity (at layer 1,2 or 3) from exchanges. Don’t talk rubbish about things you don’t understand yourself!

    8. Avatar 125us says:

      John – who do you think offers layer 3 backhaul? Connecting to another network at layer 3 isn’t backhaul, it’s an NNI or it’s peering, which are different things. Backhaul is transparent and point-to-point, so can only be layer 2.

      I’m in my 4th decade of technical networking roles, I have the basics pretty well covered.

    9. Avatar John says:

      @125us For backhaul Dark fibre and DWDM are very common alongside MPLS based services. There are multiple providers selling L3VPN connectivity in exchanges in the uk wholesale market. Most of the larger networks now run PE in the exchanges and no longer just transport at layer 2.

      Peering isn’t something that generally happens at the exchange level.

      My experience? I build exchange backhaul and ISP networks for a living.

  5. Avatar Name says:

    As a Zen’s customer I can only confirm this is true. I think that the part of their success falls within the Fritz routers.

  6. Avatar yeehaa says:

    I’m more shocked to see Virgin Media has a satisfaction score of 53% (did they get the numbers the wrong way round?)

    1. Avatar JP says:

      Virgin’s the best though, you know where you are with them, normally on hold and getting cut off from customer service.

    2. Avatar Roger_Gooner says:

      I am very happy with my Virgin Media broadband, it’s been rock steady for years. What lets them down is customer service which can be atrocious according to many subscribers.

    3. Avatar Mark says:

      I’ve never had any major issues with virgin in say years apart from a few hours down the other week.

      Saying that once cityfibre finish rollout in my area and zen go live I will be moving and going with zen ASAP

    4. Avatar Ig Og says:

      Correct. Their CS lies and a their system cannot cope with simple change of email address.
      Cancel virgin media, total rip off. Call 0800 952 2277 to cancel. Takes 30 days but so worth it.

    5. Avatar JP says:

      ^^^That’s not the official way to cancel Virgin Media services!^^^

  7. Avatar Mark says:

    I’m more shocked to see TalkTalk have 54% satisfaction… I’m guessing a lot of TalkTalk users were unable to take part in the survey as their broadband was down!

  8. Avatar Eci sufferer says:

    They claimed no knowledge of the latest eci g.inp trial (yes I am with them). Shame they would not get involved so no vote from me I’m afraid.

    1. Avatar Ted says:

      The trial was cancelled due to poor results, sounds like Zen did you a favour

  9. Avatar Stephen Gleeson says:

    Ive been with Zen for 6 months now. I can honestly say that I have had the worst broadband connection than any other provider has supplied me. My broadband is constantly on and off. I cant wait for the other 6 months to run out as I will definitely be changing provider. They are well overated.

    1. Avatar Charles Smith says:

      I suggest you email the CEO of Zen with a timeline of your complaints.

    2. Avatar Donna Leecy says:

      I work for Utilities warehouse who provide multi services….gas, electric, broadband, mobile phone, home phone, home insurance. Their numbers were missed of this report all together. If your not happy with these then by all means get in touch with me. I will show you what we have to offer including various speeds and modems as well as prices. We have won best Which? broadband provider and customer service for the last 10 years. Get in touch…. carmiladark@gmail.com

    3. Avatar JP says:

      Dodge^!

    4. Avatar cornflakes says:

      Just to make sure no reader is suckered into the MLM bs, don’t bother with Utilities Warehouse as suggested above by someone. Google it and you’ll see it’s a classic pyramid scheme with typical religious-type meetings! Don’t feed the fire.

  10. Avatar RaptorX says:

    Been with Zen for years, perfect service the whole time, including the last year with the extra load due to coronavirus. Can’t recommend them enough.

  11. Avatar Ryan says:

    Zen internet is only good if your on a zen internet exchange.

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