15 million hit by broadband outages – Edinburgh the worst


Nearly 15 million consumers have suffered broadband outages lasting three hours or more in the past year, three times higher than the previous 12 months, according to Uswitch.com, the comparison and switching service.

The average home affected by broadband outages was left offline for more than two days over the course of 12 months.

With millions of people relying on home broadband connections to do their job, the UK lost 16 million working days in the last year to outages. Broadband issues are estimated to have cost the economy almost £5 billion in lost work time. 

More than a third of people (36%) turned to their mobile data when an outage struck, with almost two-thirds of those (63%) burning through their whole monthly data allowance.

Edinburgh is the UK’s outage capital, with residents suffering the longest time without broadband per person and losing nine million hours of broadband over the year. The news is a major turnaround from last year’s research, which found that the Scottish capital experienced some of the fewest outages in the UK.

Residents of Belfast suffered the shortest amount of downtime, with the city reporting only 11 hours of downtime in 12 months. 

Table: The worst places in the UK for broadband outages 2019-20 vs 2020-21



Average downtime 2019-20

Average downtime 2020-21



25 hours

175.3 hours



169 hours

109.3 hours



13 hours

96.5 hours



32 hours

75.3 hours



89 hours

70.1 hours



25 hours

66.8 hours



21 hours

59.5 hours



26 hours

45 hours

Source: Uswitch.com

Despite the inconvenience, only four in ten customers who experienced outages complained to their provider about the issue. However, more than a third (37%) of frustrated Britons are tempted to switch broadband providers because of the issue.

Uswitch.com is offering advice to consumers for when they suffer an outage and what they can do if they experience persistent problems. When an outage strikes, many people can wait hours for their connection to come back, without realising that there are steps they can take to help mitigate problems, such as tethering to your phone. 

Says Ernest Doku, broadband expert at Uswitch.com:

“Outages have affected the country like never before over the past 12 months, with three times as many people complaining of a lost connection than in the previous year.

“This report covers the first full year of lockdown measures, in which millions of home-workers and home-schoolers have experienced internet outages when they would usually have been at their workplaces or in school.

“When you’re trying to get things done, not being able to stay connected can be infuriating, and made worse when a provider fails to communicate with their customers properly.

“The first thing to do if you think you’re suffering an outage is to check whether it’s a problem with your router, which can often be fixed with a simple reset.

“If it’s clear that the issues are beyond your control, contact your provider and they will be able to inform you of any problems in your area and, hopefully, an estimated time for a resolution.

“If your connection goes down for more than two days you could be entitled to compensation of just over £8 a day. Most of the UK’s big broadband providers are signed up to Ofcom’s auto-compensation scheme, so you should be covered. These rules were relaxed during the pandemic as providers focused on keeping the country running, but from July the scheme will be up and running again. ”

Chris Price
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