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£1.3 billion a year lost thanks to broadband outages

The latest annual outages report from Uswitch.com has revealed that broadband outages hitting the UK’s home workers have cost the economy £1.3bn over the past year, leading to the comparison and switching service calling on broadband customers to look for a new deal to improve their experience and save money.

Some 56% of respondents said they had experienced an outage of some kind, and just over a third (37%) reported that their broadband had cut out for more than three hours because of a legitimate outage caused by a “power cut”, “broadband provider had an outage”, “damage to cables external to my property” or “routine maintenance to cables external to my property”. Nearly 11 million consumers were affected by an internet outage that left them offline for three hours or more in the past 12 months, with those working remotely bearing the brunt of the service disruptions.

Respondents who had a network outage were asked if they agreed with the statement: “It prevented me from working,” to which 16% agreed. The research found home workers lost on average nearly two days’ worth of internet service during the year. Based on figures supplied by the OECD regarding the UK’s hourly GDP, this amounted to a total of £1.281bn lost to the economy by outages that stopped people working from home over the past year.

And with half of employees (51%) working from home at least once a week, internet problems are landing some in their boss’s bad books, with one in 10 admitting they had faced questions or comments regarding the quality of their broadband connection. However, one in eight people (13%) also said the cost of living crisis means they have to work from home more often – regardless of their broadband’s reliability – to save money.

When tackling important projects, 10% of workers said they were more likely to go into the office as they didn’t trust their home connection, while 8% felt they had missed out on jobs or promotions due to unreliable broadband.

The research also revealed that there was a postcode lottery when it came to outages. Nottingham was identified as the UK’s outage capital, with residents who experienced service disruptions spending the longest time offline over the course of a year and losing 9.2 million hours of broadband annually, with an average total home broadband outage time of 70.2 hours. The East Midlands city was followed by Southampton and Manchester, with average downtime of 45.8 hours and 38.8 hours respectively. By contrast, those in Liverpool and Newcastle experienced 17.2 hours and 15.5 hours.

Even though the absolute number of people affected by outages fell compared with last year, those who did suffer breaks in service were more motivated to complain. More than half (52%) who suffered a long outage contacted their provider, and just under a quarter of those who complained (23%) received compensation for their trouble. One in seven broadband users (14%) have noticed their service getting worse in the past year, yet of those who suffered an outage, just 12% were considering switching providers as a result, down from a third (37%) in 2021.

Uswitch.com noted that almost seven million Brits were out of contract with their broadband provider, and thousands more contracts are due to end in July due to a spike in broadband deals taken out in the January sales during the lockdown of 2021.

It added that with out-of-contract broadband prices often more expensive than current fibre deals, it was important that consumers switch to a new plan when their deal ends. Otherwise, they could end up overspending by an average of £162 a year on poor or slow broadband.

“Misfiring home broadband can quickly become a huge annoyance, given that video calls have become essential for many remote workers,” said Ernest Doku, broadband expert at Uswitch.com.

“Stable broadband should not be the thing that you worry about when you are trying to impress a new employer. Bosses will not be filled with confidence if their first impression is buffering and internet drop-outs.

“When people reach the point that their bosses are commenting on their connection issues, it’s time to consider an upgrade,” he said.

“You may find that better service often comes at a cheaper price when you have been with the same provider for a number of years. Competition is rife in the broadband industry and the price gap between standard fixed-line internet and full-fibre services – which offer more consistent connectivity and superfast download speeds of up to 1Gb – is now minimal.” ComputerWeekly

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