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Ofcom Compare Broadband ISPs by Call Waits, Faults and Quality etc

Thursday, May 18th, 2023 (11:55 am) - Score 2,360
consumer satisfaction broadband rating

Ofcom has today published their 2023 UK study of broadband ISP, phone and mobile service quality, call waiting times, complaint levels, faults, repairs, compensation and install times amongst the largest providers. For example, TalkTalk attracted the lowest satisfaction for broadband (78%), while Plusnet secured the highest (89%).

The new 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: Ofcom’s report only collects enough data to cover the market’s largest providers.

Some 82% of fixed broadband ISP consumers claimed to be satisfied with their service (down from 83% last year), which compares with 87% for mobile (down from 91%) and just 77% for landline phone (unchanged). Subscribers to Plusnet reported the highest levels of satisfaction with broadband (89%), while TalkTalk scored the lowest (78%).

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In terms of mobile satisfaction, Virgin Mobile secured the lowest score (81%), although this is generally still pretty good, while giffgaff and Tesco Mobile jointly did the best (95%). Otherwise, we’ve gone further than Ofcom’s report by keeping a log of how customer satisfaction has changed over the past five years.

Consumer Broadband Satisfaction (Change Over Time)

  BT EE Plusnet Sky TalkTalk Virgin Media Vodafone
2023 83% 85% 89% 82% 78% 81% 83%
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

Consumer Mobile Satisfaction (Change Over Time)

  EE giffgaff O2 Tesco Mobile Three UK Virgin Media Vodafone Sky Mobile
2023 87% 95% 85% 95% 83% 81% 86% 88%
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%  

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. Otherwise, this reveals that Shell Energy had the longest call waiting times (8 mins and 14 seconds) of all broadband providers when contacting support, while EE did the same for mobile operators (3 mins and 41 seconds).

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By comparison, NOW TV (NOW Broadband) kept broadband customers hanging on the phone for the least amount of time (51 seconds) and the same was true of Three UK for mobile (just 47 seconds).

ofcom-2023-service-quality-by-uk-broadband-and-mobile-provider

We should add that just 20% of broadband customers, and 12% of mobile customers, said they had a reason to complain about their service or provider in 2022. However, satisfaction with how complaints are handled continues to be an industry-wide issue. Similar to 2021, only around half of mobile, broadband and landline customers who made a complaint to their provider in 2022 were satisfied with how it was handled. Just over a third (34%) of complainants in each of these sectors said they were neutral about the way their complaint was handled, with between 13% and 15% saying they were dissatisfied.

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

“We’ve asked telecoms customers what frustrates them most with their providers, and the message is clear: they want to get through to the right person on the phone quickly, and have their complaints dealt with first time. With switching becoming simpler, providers that continue to let standards slip should expect customers to show them the door.”

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.

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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 (unchanged).

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 1 day faster than last year (12 days). Overall, Virgin Media delivered the shortest wait of just 3 days, while Vodafone were the slowest at 17 days.

Meanwhile, the average time to switch provider is 14 days, but this is unlikely to fall significantly below 14 days as Ofcom’s rules specify a similar minimum transfer period for most switches between providers (this is partly to allow time for checking, which reduces the risk from SLAMMING – being switched without your consent). But the regulator’s future One Touch Switch (OTS) system hopes to do all of this in just 1 day.

Across the major providers’ there was also an average of 41 faults a month, of any kind, per 1000 customers (down from 44 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. But Vodafone had the highest number of faults per 1,000 customers (60 faults per month), while Plusnet had the lowest (20 per month).

However, it should be noted that not all faults resulting in total loss of service were the ISPs fault, and a lot of issues can occur within the customer’s domain (i.e. problems with in-home wiring or disconnections between devices).

ofcom-2023-summary-of-uk-isp-faults-repairs-and-missed-appointments

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 £9.33 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 £29.15 and a delay to the start of a new service would be £5.83 per day.

In 2022, signatories to the automatic compensation scheme paid £60m to consumers when things went wrong with their broadband and/or landline, £1.5m more than in 2021. A total of around 1.34 million payments were made across all three service issues (excluding compensation paid outside the scheme).

Ofcom’s Service Quality Report 2023
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/../service-quality

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
9 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Matt says:

    Quite a step down for BT/EE in mobile – wonder if this down to either people leaving after the public display of unhappy employees last year, or part of their merging consumer divisions. Looks like they’re making a hash of it.

    at least TalkTalk can say they’re consistent…? 😀

    1. Avatar photo AndyK says:

      Probably just a higher proportion of very loyal customers who don’t know how easy it is to switch/don’t want to switch and the very high price hikes this year. Possibly also some better awareness of the alternatives out there.

  2. Avatar photo Shaun says:

    Not sure how tesco mobile scored so well for signal they use O2 and there network is crap quality. Signal can be full alot of the time but the data speeds are slow and even more so in rurual areas where o2 and vodafone dimolshed masts and started sharing sites and antennas slwoing down data speeds to 10mb from 80.

    EE on the other hand have improved their rual netowrk even in depths of cornwall where i had only 1 bar of EE 4g+ i got speeds of 40+

    Compared to my work phone on vodafone at full signal stood 30 meters looking at the mast i could only get 15-20mb

    1. Avatar photo A Nonnymouse says:

      Probably people answering a different question to the one asked. Just look at the Tesco Mobile app reviews, loads of 5 star reviews for good service or price but YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE REVIEWING THE APP! People!

    2. Avatar photo AndyK says:

      What I take from that is that GiffGaff and Tesco Mobile are managing to target people who are just much more easily pleased and have low expectations – or don’t understand how to answer survey questions!

  3. Avatar photo A Nonnymouse says:

    EE has the worst phone response times? I’ve been looking at them recently (they do have good coverage) and it seemed that they can only be contacted by Twitter or Facebook which means, to me, they can’t be contacted so I’ll go elsewhere.

    1. Avatar photo Josh says:

      You clearly haven’t look awfully hard; call 150 from an EE phone, you get straight through to someone in the UK who actually understands the English language.

    2. Avatar photo Declan M says:

      Always get through under a minute and usually a friendly geordie to talk to win win with EE on customer service

    3. Avatar photo A Nonnymouse says:

      Thanks J and D. Worth knowing.

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