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Ofcom 2022 Study Rates Mobile and Broadband ISPs by Quality UPDATE3

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022 (12:01 am) - Score 2,304
consumer satisfaction broadband rating

Ofcom has published their 2022 survey of UK broadband ISP and mobile service quality, call waiting times, complaints and install times among the largest providers. For example, Vodafone attracted the lowest satisfaction for broadband (77%), while BT secured the highest (88%). But overall, service quality has improved since COVID-19.

As usual this annual report is based on data that the industry regulator has gathered via a combination of consumer research (survey of people and social media posts etc.), submitted complaints and some other statistics that have been obtained directly from broadband, landline phone and mobile operators.

NOTE: Due to a change in the providers included in the analysis (e.g. the exclusion of Post Office and inclusion of NOW Broadband), the broadband industry average for call waiting times in 2021 is not comparable with the previous year.

Some 83% of fixed broadband ISP consumers claimed to be satisfied with their service (up from 80% last year), which compares with 91% for mobile (up from 90%) and just 77% for landline phone (unchanged). Subscribers to BT reported the highest levels of satisfaction with broadband (88%), while Vodafone scored the lowest (77%).

In terms of mobile satisfaction, Virgin Mobile secured the lowest score (83%) – although this is generally still pretty good, while Tesco Mobile did the best (96%). Otherwise, we’ve gone further than Ofcom’s report by keeping a log of how customer satisfaction has changed over the past five years (see below). The big caveat below is that the regulator only has enough data to examine the largest providers, so take it with a pinch of salt.

Consumer Broadband Satisfaction (Change Over Time)

  BT EE Plusnet Sky
TalkTalk Virgin Media Vodafone
2022 88% 85% 79% 84% 78% 78% 77%
2021 80% 82% 81% 80% 77% 80% no data
2020 86% 88% 93% 86% 78% 85% no data
2019 80% 87% 86% 83% 79% 85% no data
2018 79% 79% 86% 83% 72% 83% no data

Consumer Mobile Satisfaction (Change Over Time)

  EE giffgaff O2 Tesco Mobile
Three UK Virgin Media Vodafone
2022 92% 95% 92% 96% 86% 83% 92%
2021 92% 93% 91% 91% 86% 88% 90%
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 KCOM had the longest call waiting times (8 mins and 53 seconds) of all broadband providers when contacting support, while O2 did the same for mobile operators (3 mins and 59 seconds).

By comparison, NOW TV (NOW Broadband) kept broadband customers hanging on the phone for the least amount of time (31 seconds) and the same was true of Three UK for mobile (just 16 seconds). For broadband and landline, all major providers, except KCOM, saw a decrease in their average call waiting times since 2020, but only Plusnet, Sky, Virgin Media and Vodafone reduced them to pre-pandemic levels.

On the flip side, it’s noted that call waiting times on mobile operators, after having nearly doubled between 2019 (1 min 18s) and 2020 (2 min 7s) due to the impact of Covid-19, have seen the average time that customers had to wait to speak to their provider rise again this year – to 2 mins and 15s.

ofcom 2022 service quality by uk broadband mobile provider

We should add that, on average, 1 in 5 broadband customers, 1 in 10 mobile customers and 1 in 20 landline customers said they had reason to complain about their service or provider in 2021. However, only half of mobile, broadband and landline customers who complained to their provider in 2021 were satisfied with the way their problem was handled. This is an industry-wide issue, with no provider scoring more than 57%.  

Most complainants had to get in touch with their provider more than once to get their complaint resolved.  Among those whose complaints had been completely resolved, only 37% of broadband complaints, 40% of landline complaints and 43% of mobile complaints were completely resolved on first contact.

Ian Macrae, Ofcom’s Director of Market Intelligence, said:

“When things go wrong with your phone or broadband service, it’s incredibly frustrating if you have to wait on hold for ages to get it sorted, or if your complaint is handled badly.”

As we emerge from the pandemic, some companies need to up their game when it comes to resolving problems, especially at a time when prices are going up. It’s never been simpler to switch, so if you’re not happy with the service you’re getting, vote with your feet and look elsewhere.”

Finally, we can take a look at fixed line service provision and repair times, as well as fault levels and the annual impact of Ofcom’s system for automatic compensation.

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, 88% of all landline and broadband orders were delivered by the date agreed with the customer (up from 85% last year).

On average, it took 12 days to complete a new landline or broadband order (either a new service, home move or a change to service), which is a day faster than last year (13 days). Virgin Media delivered the shortest wait of 4 days, while Vodafone were the slowest at 16 days.

Meanwhile, the average time to change provider is 7 days, but this is unlikely to ever fall significantly below 14 days as Ofcom’s rules specify a similar minimum transfer period for most switches between providers.

Across the major providers there was also an average of 44 faults a month, of any kind, per 1000 customers (down from 46 last year). This includes any landline or broadband fault that took place, as opposed to only those that resulted in a total loss of service. Vodafone had the highest number of faults per 1,000 customers (67 faults per month), while Plusnet had the lowest (23 per month). Most ISPs reported a decline in faults during the year, except Sky Broadband and Plusnet.

However, it’s noted that 56% of faults resulting in total loss of service were actually within the customer’s domain (i.e. problems with in-home wiring or disconnections between devices) and not the fault of the broadband ISP, which is in line with last year’s study.


Automatic Compensation Performance

Finally, we examine the impact from Ofcom’s automatic compensation (here) system after its third year of operation, which compensates consumers by £8.40 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 £26.24 and a delay to the start of a new service would be £5.25 per day.

Faults resulting in a total loss of service were resolved within 2 days on average in 2021, with 86% of all total loss of service faults being solved within a week (this includes those resolved in a shorter space of time than a week). But it’s noted that Virgin Media was able to resolve 98% of its faults within a week. By comparison, BT resolved the lowest proportion of total loss-of-service faults within a week, at 76%, and had the highest proportion of faults that took longer than 21 days to resolve (10%).

As for missed appointments, some 3% of repair and provision appointments were missed (compared with 2.7% last year). BT, TalkTalk, Sky Broadband and NOW Broadband (NOW TV) had the highest proportion of missed appointments, while KCOM had the lowest proportion, at 1%.

The automatic compensation scheme saw over £58.5 million being paid out – £22.8m on delayed repairs, £6.4m on missed appointments and £29.3m on delayed installs – to broadband and landline customers who experienced problems with their services, which is up from £27.5m last year. This represented a total of 1.3 million payments to consumers, which is up sharply from 726,000 last year.

Ofcom’s Service Quality Report 2022

UPDATE 7:59am

We’ve just added Ofcom’s details above for service provision and repair times, as well as fault levels and the annual impact of Ofcom’s system for automatic compensation.

UPDATE 2:04pm

We’ve had some comments from the BT Group ISPs.

An EE spokesperson said:

“Our customers already know we provide the best customer service across the industry, and our teams in UK and Ireland provide the best personal and local service in our contact centres and retail stores. EE mobile and broadband customers enjoy being part of the UK’s biggest and fastest network with more 5G coverage than any other provider and ultrafast full fibre broadband.”

A BT spokesperson said:

“We’re dedicated to keeping our customers connected and providing brilliant customer service with 100% of calls being answered in the UK and Ireland. We’re committed to helping our customers wherever they need us with our nationwide team of Home Tech Experts providing in-home support.”

A Plusnet spokesperson said:

“We’re proud to show our customers that getting great value doesn’t have to mean compromising on service. We’re getting it right by offering reliable products, great value and brilliant customer service.”

UPDATE 19th May 2022

Adding a few more comments.

A KCOM Spokesperson said:

“The call waiting times in Ofcom’s report are disappointing and we apologise to any customers who waited longer than they should have to get through to our service teams. This was not the level of service that we expect or our customers deserve.

We have been working hard to improve since these figures were recorded last year by investing heavily in both our people and systems. This has ensured that we are now providing a better overall customer experience. The changes we have put in place have enabled us to cut our wait times by more than 60%, down to the industry average, and also to half our call abandonment rate.

This year we have recruited dozens of new, local call centre advisers and invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in new computer systems that are enabling us to manage customer contact quicker and more effectively through both phone and online channels.

We always strive to be there for our customers when they need us and we are continuing to improve and invest in our people and technology to ensure our customers receive the best possible experience going forward.

The report does also highlight that KCOM performs well in delivering its services with 99% of orders delivered on time. KCOM also has the second lowest number of reported faults per 1,000 customers with only 27, compared to BT’s 56. KCOM also reports the quickest repair time with all faults fixed on the same day compared to a two to three day wait for most other providers.”

Tony Jopling, Pure Broadband’s MD, said:

“The pandemic provided many challenges to our industry but it also emphasised just how important receiving a quality service is. Even more importantly, it also highlighted to many just how vital it is to get support quickly, especially with so many people working and learning from home, should there be an issue with your connection.

We’re proud of the first-class customer service we provide to our thousands of customers across Hull, the East Riding and beyond. In 2021, it took our experts an average of just 40 seconds to respond to calls and we’re constantly working to improve this to keep those who rely on us connected.”

We should point out that Pure Broadband is not covered by Ofcom’s report, thus the figure of 40 seconds may not be from the regulator’s data.

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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.
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