BT has for the first time topped the complaints chart for broadband services in a report compiled by Ofcom, and it will have been a double blow for them as their big rivals Virgin Media received the fewest complaints.
Ofcom are the communications regulator and they report down all the complaints that they receive for broadband, telephone, mobile phones and pay TV. It was the first time that BT has been the most complained about broadband provider as a proportion of their customer base and it was the twelfth quarterly report produced by Ofcom.
BT received an average of 0.32 complaints per 1,000 (or 32 complaints per 100,000 customers) during Q4 2013 followed by EE with 0.29 and then TalkTalk with 0.21. The industry average was 0.17 and there was only Sky (0.08) and Virgin Media (0.07) who were below the industry average.
BT’s complains in general related to service faults and the way that complaints were handled.
The positive side to this is that this figure is down from Q3 2013 when they received 0.41 complaints per 1000.
Previous to Q4 2013 it was EE who had topped the charts for the previous 5 quarters with 0.45 per 1,000 in Q3 2013 and so again the positive side to this is that this meant that they had improved by reducing their complaints down to 0.29 per 1,000 in the 3 months that followed.
What should be noted is that only the big broadband providers who have a market share of 4% or above and receive more than 30 complaints a month are included so just because some of the smaller ISPs are not included in the report does not necessarily mean they don’t get complained about very much.
Virgin Media will have been pleased to continue their usual good record of very few complaints, even more so they will be enjoying the fact that BT Broadband, their big rival in the fibre broadband sector were the most complained about, how long before we see this as another marketing stick being used by Virgin to beat BT with.
Broadband providers are being called to give consumers the broadband speeds and service that they are paying for as a new report from the consumer group “Which?” finds that 3 in 5 people are experiencing problems with their broadband.
In the survey, which was done online between the 8th and 9th January 2014 and interviewed 2012 British adults and found that 45% of people suffered from slow download speeds with 58% of those saying that this is a frequent problem or happening all the time for them.
It is not just broadband speeds which are a bone of contention to consumers, 27% of those who report loss of broadband had to wait two days for this to be resolved and 11% had no internet connections for a week or more.
Which? are wanting the broadband providers to “Give us Broadband Speed Guarantee” which is asking for broadband providers to give customers the broadband speed that they are paying for. Already broadband providers do give estimated broadband speeds and allow customers to leave if the speed they receive is significantly slower than the estimate they were given when they signed up, this is a voluntary code of practice that was set up by communications regulator Ofcom.
What Which? have a problem with is that the code of practice is voluntary rather than compulsory, they also believe that broadband providers should give more specific estimated broadband speeds for specific properties rather than just an estimate for the area.
The Executive Director of Which?, Richard Lloyd, said:
“The internet is an essential part of modern life, yet millions of us are getting frustratingly slow speeds and having to wait days to get reconnected when things go wrong.
It’s less superfast broadband, more super slow service from companies who are expecting people to pay for speeds they may never get. Broadband providers need to give customers the right information and take responsibility for resolving problems.”
Which? have set up a petition at which.co.uk/bbspeed for people to sign if they agree with their campaign.
BT has agreed a 2 week advertising deal with the company that owns the Daily Star, Daily Express & Channel 5 and will see their readers be offered 6 months free BT Broadband.
Richard Desmond’s “Northern & Shell” company own the Daily Express, Daily Star and Channel 5 and it is in these that BT will be featuring with their offers for the next 2 weeks.
We are likely to see ads, pull-outs and sponsored content in both the papers and on Channel 5. Yesterday saw the launch of the campaign on Channel 5 and a 4 page advertising feature of the free broadband offer in the Daily Express along with a front page advert on the front of the Daily Express & Daily Star.
The special BT Broadband offer will entitle readers to “BT Totally Unlimited” free for 6 months and then £16 per month thereafter on an 18 month contract. Readers of the papers will have an 0800 number to call to register for the offer or they can do so via the BT.com website where they are able to enter an exclusive reader offer code to claim the special 6 months free BT broadband deal.
As for all BT Broadband customers, they will also be able to receive BT Sport for free, this means that they can then watch plenty of live Premier League football along with many other sporting events exclusive on BT Sport.
With Channel 5 due to be sold in May, this deal from BT could have a couple of alternative motives for Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell company. It may be that BT could be looking at maybe purchasing the TV channel and that BT are the preferred bidder or it could be a clever ploy to help put up a bidding war for the TV channel between BT & BSkyB as these are the 2 most likely suitors who are reportedly after it.
The UK has now passed 4 of the major EU competitors when it comes to broadband according to Ofcom.
Ofcom claim that the UK is now ahead of Germany, France, Italy and Spain to make it the best of the “Big 5″ EU nations and in ninth overall in Europe. The study from Ofcom looks at a range of things for its “European Broadband Scorecard”, such as coverage, take-up, usage and choice for both mobile and fixed broadband and pricing. Broadband speeds are not overly featured in these results because Ofcom say that there are no comparable figures to compare against across Europe.
In Ofcoms report it claims that the UK leads to “Big 5″ (“EU5″) in coverage, take-up, usage and choice for both mobile and fixed broadband and performs well on price.
Superfast broadband availability in the UK has also shown a good improvement with around 60% having access at the end of 2011 with it now up at 73%. Take up of superfast broadband which is classed as broadband speeds of 30Mb or above in the UK is 9% while the second closest EU5 country was Spain with 6%.
Among the EU5, using the most recent comparable data, the UK has:
- highest broadband take-up (all types, by household), at 83%
- highest proportion of people to have bought goods online over a year (77%)
- highest weekly usage of the internet (87%)
- lowest proportion of people who have never used the internet (8%)
With regards to broadband speeds, Ofcom recorded the UK’s average speed during November 2013 as 17.8Mb, although this is around double what Akamai (who measure global broadband speeds) have for the UK at 9.1Mb.
Fast broadband connections to a property are increasingly becoming more and more important to homebuyers. It is thought that a home without broadband or with a slow broadband connection could be worth up to 20% less than a property with a good fast broadband connection.
Because the internet usage is continuing to grow in peoples everyday lives the need for fast and reliable broadband connections also increases. Many people now stream TV shows online daily such as via Netflix or the BBC iPlayer which require a good broadband connection to run well. There is also an ever increasing number of home works too who require good internet connections to work from home.
If people can’t perform these sorts of tasks at home then it could really devalue a property to them or even completely put them off their list altogether.
In this last week we have seen Rightmove, the online property search website, now include a speed checker link on the property details for each property that is listed with them.
Bernard Phillips from Rightmove, said:
“We already offer a number of tools to help consumers make informed decisions about a property, and we’re pleased to be the first to add broadband speeds to this. Broadband has become ingrained in people’s lives and is an important factor when choosing a home.”
The government’s target of superfast broadband for 95% of the UK by 2017 should hopefully help with this issue, but there will still be plenty of rural properties that will struggle to get to these sort of speeds. A superfast broadband connection is classed as a broadband connection of 24Mb or above.