Broadband speeds

The following frequently asked questions may help if you have an issue with your broadband speed or internet provider.

What type of broadband do I have?

The two most common types of broadband connection are ADSL and Fibre Optic. ADSL uses a traditional copper telephone line to provide broadband to customers, whereas Fibre Optic is the newer and faster option, using fibre optic cables to deliver better speeds. The type of broadband you have will affect the top and average speed of your internet.

What is a fair speed to expect?

In 2016, the average download speed in the UK was 36.2 Mbps. However speeds vary significantly across the country and three out of 10 connections ran at less than 10Mbps at peak times. People who live in rural areas are more likely to have a slower connection. A connection offering a download speed of at least 1 Mbps will allow the customer to use email and browse the internet, although it might take time to access webpages with a lot of information. A connection of at least 2 Mbps is required to stream standard definition video. Faster connections are better for downloading large items such as movies. 
The UK Government has set out its ambition to introduce a broadband universal service obligation (USO) across all of the UK with a minimum download speed of 10Mbps. This is considered to be the speed which enables full participation in a digital society.

How can check I my broadband speed?

There are now numerous free websites that allow you to check your broadband speed online.

My broadband speed is slower than advertised, can I complain?

Many broadband providers advertise their services by stating the maximum speed that it could provide. However, not all customers will be able to receive the maximum speed. Legally, providers can only advertise a maximum speed if they can supply it to at least 10% of customers. Many providers will provide customers with an estimate of the speed of connection they can expect to receive when they first sign up for broadband – and customers are then entitled to complain if their connection is slower than the estimate.

Although my broadband speed is fast at times, it is temperamental and can often be slow, can I complain?

Broadband speeds can fluctuate for a variety of reasons – for example, speeds can slow at peak times, when a lot of people are accessing the network. However, if your connection is regularly going slower than you expect, you should complain. 

I’m unhappy with my broadband speed, what should I do?

There is a range of things that might affect your broadband connection speed, and you might be able to take action to resolve some of them without needing to contact your provider. Your connection can be affected by how far you are from your router – so, you might want to move closer to the router to see if the speed improves. Your connection will often be faster if you connect to the router with a cable rather than using wifi (although its not always practical to use a cable). And speeds can be affected by the number of people using the connection – so, if you have several people trying to access the connection at the same time, see if speeds improve if you limit the number of people online at any one time.

The fault lies with my supplier, is it best to complain to them?

Yes, it is important to give your supplier the chance to address any issues first. Contact their customer service team and clearly state why you don’t feel the speed you’re receiving is what you agreed to, the date the issue started, any previous correspondence you may have had with the company and the outcome you would like to see.  

The issue can’t be solved or I don’t agree with the supplier’s verdict, what next?

If the situation is unresolved after eight weeks or you don’t feel the supplier’s final decision is fair, then you can contact us - the Communications Ombudsman; we will make an impartial and legally binding decision. If we decide in your favour, and depending on the situation, we can request an apology, an explanation of what went wrong, a practical action to correct the problem and a financial award up to £10,000. If you accept our decision it becomes final and the company has 28 days to put the remedy in place. If you reject our decision you lose the right to the resolution we have offered, but you retain your right to take your complaint elsewhere, such as the courts.