In Depth

Broadband service providers 2019 ranked from best to worst

Ofcom rated the UK’s six leading networks for customer satisfaction

TalkTalk has been named the UK’s worst broadband service provider for the third consecutive year, in a new survey by Ofcom. 

The watchdog’s study looked at customer satisfaction, complaint handling and call-waiting times for the UK’s six leading networks. Although TalkTalk was quickest at answering calls from customers, only 44% of those surveyed said they were happy with how the company handled their complaints, The Guardian reports. 

The provider also totted up the second-highest rate of complaints to Ofcom, at 96 per 100,000 customers - “well above the industry average of 58 and second only to BT-owned Plusnet at 101”, the newspaper says.

Plusnet had by far the longest call-waiting times, at an average six minutes and 47 seconds. However, around 86% of customers said they were happy with the provider’s overall service, putting Plusnet second in the satisfaction stakes, with EE grabbing the top spot. 

At the other end of the scale, TalkTalk achieved the lowest satisfaction score, with its customers “less likely to recommend their provider to a friend” than users of rival firms, reports the Daily Mirror

Here’s how the UK’s broadband providers compare on customer satisfaction in Ofcom’s report, ranked best to worst: 

  • EE - 87% satisfied with the service
  • Plusnet - 86%
  • Virgin Media - 85%
  • Sky - 83%
  • BT - 80%
  • TalkTalk - 79%

Ofcom’s director of market intelligence, Iain Macrae, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the survey findings show that all of the major companies need to improve their services. 

“We absolutely think that the firms need to up their games in the way they handle complaints,” Macrae said, adding that “it’s hard for TalkTalk to hide from the fact that their customer service isn’t up to scratch”.

How has TalkTalk responded?

A spokesperson for the internet service provider (ISP) pointed out that the new Ofcom report notes that TalkTalk is improving its compliant handling. 

“We’re pleased that Ofcom’s data again shows an improving trend for the number of complaints received about TalkTalk,” the spokesperson said. “And while some of the results in the quality-of-service report are disappointing, we are already seeing more customers than ever staying with us.”

How to choose the right broadband provider

Check broadband coverage in your area

Before you start shopping for an internet package, check the levels of coverage offered for your local area by the various service providers.

“All major ISPs have a page on their website where you can enter your postcode and check which services and speeds you can expect to receive,” says Expert Reviews

It’s also worth researching providers to find out whether fibre connections are available in your area. These connections provide significantly faster speeds and better stability than standard broadband packages, but are generally available only in more urban areas. 

Work out the costs

Most broadband providers bill customers each month to use their service, but there are additional fees that users should consider before signing up for a deal. 

Many providers may charge to set up the service before activating it, while others may increase their monthly fees after the contract period ends. 

“It’s always worth knowing exactly when you’ll be out of contract,” notes Alphr. This will give you time to check whether your contract value will go up after it expires, and to shop around for other other deals that might be better. 

The tech news site also warns potential customers to consider how long they want to be tied in with the provider, and to “look for clauses in contracts that let you leave after the first month if you’re not happy”.

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