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This section contains detailed information and advice on the problems that consumers often experience with their broadband Internet Service Provider (ISP) and how to get them resolved.
 Complaint Topics
 Frequent or Lengthy Broadband Connection Faults
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As explained in the introduction to this section, it's natural to experience the odd period of total connectivity loss (usually lasting anything from several minutes to a few hours) because modern broadband networks are highly complicated and do from time to time suffer faults; there is no avoiding this.

But sometimes consumers may also experience a serious loss of connectivity that is either extremely frequent or which continues for several days and, in the most extreme cases, several weeks or months. Major Service Outages (MSO) like this can have a variety of potential causes.

Common Causes for Major Service Outages (MSO)

* Mistakes caused by a telecoms engineer (e.g. bad configuration or hardware at the local telephone exchange, street cabinet or node).

* Cut or damaged telecoms cables, which are usually caused by third-party contractors (house builders, road works etc.). Related issues often need extensive street works and as such they can take anything from a few days to several weeks to completely resolve (there are examples of such problems taking months to fix in isolated rural areas).

* Damage to the telecoms infrastructure caused by major storms (flooding, gale force winds, lightning etc.).

* Problems with authentication caused by the ISPs radius server becoming faulty (i.e. inability to connect due to a rejected login attempt). But ISPs usually fix these quite quickly.

* Faulty home / office router hardware.

* Disputes between ISPs and their suppliers (e.g. unpaid bills).

* Poor home telecoms wiring or persistent interference (EMI), most often caused by nearby third-party electrical devices (faulty AC adapters, twinkling Christmas tree lights etc.) or even passing high-speed trains (some of these can cause repeated disconnections and may be harder to identify).

When an MSO occurs your first port of call should always be to try and exclude your own hardware and software as the cause because the problem might not be the fault of your ISP. Start by checking your connection hardware (router or modem), which when working will usually show a bright green icon for a live / functional Internet connection (this may be off or coloured Yellow or Red when problems occur).

It's also worth trying another router or turning the device off and on again (after 10 minutes) to see if that fixes the issue (try not to do this often as some lines react badly to repeated reboots). After that we'd try connecting the computer to one of your router's wired (LAN) Ethernet ports instead of using WiFi, which should rule out your wireless network as the cause. Finally, we'd recommend asking one of your neighbours if they're experiencing similar troubles (a major area fault might be to blame if they're having the same difficulties).

At this point we'd probably try to get online using a Smartphone via Mobile Broadband (3G / 4G) and then go to the ISPs Service Status page in order to check if the problem is listed (we make a note of the status pages on our individual ISP listings), although it can sometimes take several hours before ISPs even register such an issue on their status page(s). Most ISPs also operate support lines and customer discussion forums, which may contain similar reports.

However many of the biggest outages may not actually be the fault of your ISP and could instead relate to the underlying infrastructure provider, which in the vast majority of cases will be BTOpenreach. Only a few ISPs operate their own core infrastructure, such as Virgin Media and a number of alternative operators like Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, B4RN and CityFibre. By comparison customers of BT, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk, EE, Zen Internet and many more depend upon Openreach.

Any issues like those mentioned above should always be discussed with the ISPs support department first, which will be able to run some basic tests and may ask you to conduct a few checks before they escalate the complaint. But remember, the ISP is required to deliver a service and if it fails to do so then this can invalidate the contract and open up an escape to switch ISP, although if the underlying infrastructure is at fault (e.g. Openreach) then migrating to a different provider on the same core network might not help.

The reality is that serious connectivity problems often take time to fix and all the end-user can do is to keep politely moaning about it to your ISP. However it is also possible to gain Automatic Compensation for a total loss of service (here).

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