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Survey Claims 17 Million UK People Hit by Broadband Outages in 2023

Wednesday, Dec 20th, 2023 (11:43 am) - Score 1,440

A new Uswitch commissioned Opinium survey of 2,000 UK adults, which was conducted earlier this month, has claimed that 17 million people have “lost their broadband connection or had it drop out” in the last 12 months and the average number of such incidents experienced (i.e. those lasting longer than 3 hours) came out as 33.

Broadband ISP outages were given as the top reason for these prolonged disconnections. Over half (52%) of broadband customers cited an outage from a provider, followed by power cuts (42%), planned maintenance to external cables (18%) and router issues (17%). But it may not be particularly fair to mix up broadband outages with those caused by local power cuts, particularly as the end-user may be able to resolve those themselves (e.g. battery backup).

Meanwhile, respondents living in Nottingham were found to be the most likely to experience an outage, with 43% doing so in 2023 and this was followed by Liverpool (39%), Brighton (38%) and Plymouth (37%). Those in Glasgow were least likely to be hit by outages (28%). On the other hand, we can’t really build much of a reliable UK-wide picture from a survey with such a small sample size.

The same survey also queried which day of the week respondents were most likely to experience an outage, which saw Friday and Wednesday coming joint top with 12% of the vote each, followed by Saturday (9%), Thursday (11%), Tuesday (9%), Monday (7%) and Sunday (6%). But it should be said that a lot of outages are likely to go unnoticed (e.g. those that occur while you’re sleeping or out of the house).

Similarly, the most frequent time of the day for such outages to occur was found to be 11am (10%), while 6pm, 7pm, 9pm, 3pm, 2pm and 10am each scored 8%. Finally, 10% of respondents said they would switch broadband provider if they weren’t within contract.

The results are radically different from when Uswitch last asked a similar question only a few months ago (here), when the survey found 21.7 million people had experienced “broadband outages” of 3 or more hours over the last year. Put another way, it’s wise not to read too much into surveys based off such a small sample size, as the margin for error appears to be quite significant.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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12 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Alex says:

    Don’t tell me – people who’ve had an outage should visit uSwitch.com and change provider, thus handing uSwitch a nice little commission.

  2. Avatar photo Steve says:

    And the stock photo is a wonderful example of a LAN issue the broadband provider will probably be blamed for in the stats 😉

    1. Avatar photo Jenna T says:

      This is an example of how ISPs literally cut you off Steve!!!!

    2. Avatar photo Steve says:


      What, by sneaking into your house and cutting cables that are part of your LAN?

  3. Avatar photo Terry ball says:

    Some people wouldn’t know if its their broadband or wifi dropping out so its just a guess from them, depends how technical they are with how it all hangs together. Does anyone really take these surveys seriously?

  4. Avatar photo Matt says:

    The issue I have is how many know the difference between an actual outage and a device or WiFi issue?

  5. Avatar photo DaveG says:

    USwitch seem to use 2000 as their sample size quite frequently and then extrapolate the results based on the responses they get.
    As someone who has had no outages for years, I find it hard to take their numbers seriously.

    1. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      79% of 63 people agree with you, hence 51m people agree with you. Can’t argue with that.

  6. Avatar photo Bob says:

    The article is very vague. The claimed 17M drop outs could be as little as a few seconds. A lot as well is likely to be down to user issues and not the network

  7. Avatar photo 125us says:

    Only really newsworthy if people are buying a product with an SLA that promises zero downtime. Engineering a solution that will deliver that is unlikely to be available for £30 a month.

  8. Avatar photo Mel says:

    Their stats would have been more meaningful if they’d actually monitored the connections.

    I’ve had a few broadband outages this year, mostly very brief in the wee small hours where most people wouldn’t notice, presumably the ISP doing network maintenance, and a couple of much longer ones where I’ve noticed the phone also doesn’t work.

  9. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

    As the saying goes there’s lies, damned lies and statistics. Unless you can whittle out external factors and just accurately the amount of failures caused by the network itself surveys like this are largely irrelevant. Including things like power failures in these things is like saying your car broke down because you ran out of petrol.

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