Nearly five million affected by broadband outages in the last year

UK households have spent an average of 29 HOURS offline in the last year with nearly five million people suffering a single broadband outage of three hours or more, study shows

  • Uswitch surveyed over 4,000 UK people on outages while working from home
  • More than a quarter (28%) experienced a network outage during working hours
  • This cost 5 million working days and more than £1.5 billion to the UK’s economy
  • Bristol is UK’s ‘outage capital’ ahead of Brighton, Belfast, London and Norwich

The average UK home had experienced more than a day – 29 hours – offline in total in the last 12 months due to broadband outages, according to new research.

The survey by comparison service also revealed that nearly five million people have suffered a single broadband outage that lasted three hours or more.

And more than a quarter of people experienced a network outage during working hours – a hit of more than £1.5 billion to the economy.

Millions of people – about 25 per cent of the UK’s working adults – are still working exclusively from home as a result of coronavirus and are relying on a good internet connection.

But 37 per cent of consumers have reported using their mobile phone’s data or tethering their mobile phone to their computer so they can keep working during an outage. 

Uswitch’s research also named Bristol as the UK’s ‘outage capital’, based on average outage time per resident, just ahead of Brighton, Belfast, London and Norwich. said the average home experienced internet outages totalling 29 hours in the last 12 months

‘With so many of us still working from home, your broadband going down for even a few hours can be a major disruption with significant consequences,’ said Nick Baker, broadband expert at

‘Lockdown life has made all of us rely on our broadband more than ever, whether that’s for work, or shopping, entertainment and keeping in touch with friends and family.’

For the report, 4,003 UK adults were surveyed between July 24 and July 27 this year.  

According to the survey, 28 per cent of respondents had experienced an outage during working hours, resulting in five million working days being lost.   

Outages caused by damage to cables or provider issues are costing the economy more than £1.5 billion a year, Uswitch said.        

According to the ONS and its ‘coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain’ report from August 7, 25 per cent of working adults had worked exclusively at home in the prior week

Bristol is Britain’s outage capital because its residents suffer the longest time without broadband per person, Uswitch also revealed. 

Bristolians lost their connection for 2.76 million hours in total due to outages over the past year. 

Taking every Bristol resident into account, the average person suffers from 7.5 hours of broadband outages in a year. 

Respondents were asked how many hours or days in total their broadband been out for in the past year for multiple reasons, including power cuts and broadband provider outages.  

Taking every Bristol resident into account, the average person suffers from 7.5 hours of broadband outages in a year

However, when UK respondents were asked ‘How long was the longest continuous broadband outage you experienced in the last year?’, the largest average amount was in Leeds with 54.4 hours. 

Norwich has the highest proportion of residents (15 per cent) affected by their broadband going down over the last year. 

Meanwhile, Londoners reported the most instances of outages, with more than seven occurring in the past year.

Cardiff experienced the fewest outages in the UK, with only 1 per cent of residents in the Welsh capital having a lost connection in the past year.

The news comes as 25 per cent of working adults are working exclusively at home, according to the ONS’s ‘Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain’ report, which was published on August 7.  

While 37 per cent of people suffering from broadband issues during home working used their mobile phone data or tethered their mobile phone to their laptop or computer, 5 per cent used their neighbour’s Wi-Fi connection instead.  

But 26 per cent just stopped what they were doing and waited for the broadband to come back online, wasting valuable minutes of their working day.     

Uswitch has encouraged people to make a contingency plan, such as tethering to a mobile, should a broadband outage occur. 

Internet outages have hit record highs during the coronavirus lockdown as network operators make changes to meet the demand of more people now working at home

Internet providers need to better communicate with customers about service issues but broadband users should also be more active in contacting their provider when an issue occurs, according to Baker. 

‘Losing that vital link with the outside world is no minor inconvenience,’ he said.

‘So internet providers who fail to communicate effectively with their customers during an outage can make a bad situation worse if they leave people in limbo, not knowing when their service might be back online.

Consumers shouldn’t hesitate to contact their provider if they believe they’ve experienced an outage, Uswitch said.

Although internet users often think they are experiencing a network outage when it is simply a problem with their home broadband kit, including their router.  

‘Quite often, your provider can tell you over the phone if the problem is unique to your own connection,’ Baker said. 


 1. Run a speed test

Run a quick speed test to work out what broadband speed you’re getting and help you decide if you need to ration your bandwidth. 

If you only have access to download speeds of around 10Mbps, you’re going to have to be much more strict with your internet usage while working from home than if you had 67Mbps, for example. 

2. Streamline your computer

Check to make sure you’re not running unnecessary programs on your computer that could be slowing it down or placing excess demand on your broadband.

3. Make sure your Wi-Fi router is set up properly  

Ensure the Wi-Fi router is plugged into the master socket and not an extension, and that it’s in an upright position in the best possible location. 

The best place for the router is in the middle of your home and unobstructed by walls or furniture. Don’t put it in a cupboard, on the ground or anywhere it can be blocked by furniture. 

Check that it is set up properly, with all the wires connected securely and a microfilter connected if you need one.

4. Use a Wi-Fi booster 

Powerline adapters use the electricity power lines to boost your Wi-Fi signal around your home, which is especially useful if you have Wi-Fi dead spots. 

5. Limit the number of devices connected to Wi-Fi (if you can)

If you need to make video calls or upload large files, try to do so when kids in the same household are offline.

If your kids, housemates or partners love online gaming, ask if they are happy to limit that to outside office hours for the time being. 

 6. Turn off HD streaming

Most streaming platforms are set to automatically stream at the highest quality available, but it’s fairly straightforward to change playback settings and save bandwidth. 

 7. Change your wireless channel

If you’re struggling with a poor Wi-Fi connection, you might want to try changing your wireless channel settings. 

If your Wi-Fi router is broadcasting on the same channel as your neighbours, it could slow your internet down.

Some of the more advanced routers – such as the Virgin Media Super Hub 3 and BT Smart Hub 2 – will automatically switch to less congested channels.

8. Plug yourself in

If you’re still struggling with your Wi-Fi then try connecting your device directly to your router with an Ethernet cable, which most customers receive when they first ordered their broadband service.

9. Go mobile

 If you have a decent 4G signal in your home it’s a simple matter to turn your smartphone into a Wi-Fi hotspot.

This is known as tethering, and while it’s not an ideal long-term solution nor necessarily available to everyone, it could help to have another way to access the internet just in case.   

Source: Uswitch 

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