Broadband outages cost UK economy £1.3 billion


Broadband outages hitting UK’s home workers have cost the economy £1.3 billion over the past year, according to the annual outages report from, the comparison and switching service.

Nearly 11 million consumers were affected by an internet outage that left them offline for three hours or more in the last 12 months with those working remotely bearing the brunt of service disruptions.

One in seven Brits (16%) who reported a significant outage say it stopped them from working, and those affected lost on average nearly two days of internet service during the year.

And with half of employees (51%) working from home at least once a week, internet problems are landing some in their boss’s bad books, with one in ten (10%) admitting they had faced questions or comments regarding the quality of their broadband connection.

Yet one in eight people (13%) say the cost-of-living crisis means they have to work from home more often – regardless of their broadband’s reliability – to save money.

When tackling important projects, 10% of workers said they were more likely to go into the office as they didn’t trust their home connection, while 8% felt they had missed out on jobs or promotions due to unreliable broadband.

Nottingham is the UK’s outage capital with residents who experienced service disruptions spending the longest time offline over the course of a year and losing 9.2 million hours of broadband annually. The city was followed by Southampton and Manchester.

Table: The places reporting the highest total home broadband outage time in 2021-22

Average downtime 2021-22
70.2 hours
45.8 hours
38.8 hours
38.7 hours
27.3 hours
22.4 hours
17.2 hours
15.3 hours


While the number of people affected by outages fell compared with last year, those who did suffer breaks in service were more motivated to complain. More than half (52%) who suffered a long outage contacted their provider, and a quarter of those who complained (23%) received compensation for their trouble.

One in seven broadband users (14%) say they have noticed their service getting worse in the past year, yet of those who suffered an outage, just 12% were considering switching providers as a result, down from a third (37%) in 2021.

Almost seven million Brits are out of contract with their broadband provider, and thousands more contracts are due to end in July due to a spike in broadband deals taken out in January sales during lockdown 2021.

With out-of-contract broadband prices often more expensive than current fibre deals, it’s important that consumers switch to a new plan when their deal ends. Otherwise they could end up overspending by an average of £162 a year on poor or slow broadband.

Says Ernest Doku, broadband expert at

“Misfiring home broadband can quickly become a huge annoyance, given that video calls have become essential for many remote workers.

“Stable broadband should not be the thing that you worry about when you are trying to impress a new employer. Bosses will not be filled with confidence if their first impression is buffering and internet dropouts.

“When people reach the point that their bosses are commenting on their connection issues, it’s time to consider an upgrade. You may find that better service often comes at a cheaper price when you have been with the same provider for a number of years.

“Competition is rife in the broadband industry and the price gap between standard fixed-line internet and full fibre services – which offer more consistent connectivity and superfast download speeds of up to 1Gb – is now minimal.

“Many households who took out a broadband deal during lockdown in the 2021 January sales will now be reaching the end of their contract, so it’s the perfect time to shop around, especially if you rely on your home internet to do your job.”

What to do when your internet goes down:

  1. Check your router: Often the source of an outage might be with your equipment rather than an external fault so it’s worth performing a quick router reset and checking your Wi-Fi connections to see if that solves the problem.
  2. Status update: Many of the UK’s main broadband providers, including SkyVirgin Media and BT have a dedicated page on their website to show service disruptions. Visit these and input your information and you should see if the problem is specific to your connection or there are wider network issues. More generally a website like Down Detector can show if others are reporting issues on your network or if a particular website or app is offline.
  3. Back-up plan: If your broadband is down due to cable issues or a specific problem with your provider, you could be without service for several hours so it’s worth making sure you have another option if you need internet access. Consider using your mobile phone’s data allowance, either directly or by tethering it to a computer – whereby your handset becomes a portable router enabling you to use its 4G connection in the same way that you would use standard broadband.
  4. Watch your speed: As well as outages it’s worth keeping your eye on any slowdown in your internet connection. When you take out a home broadband deal, your provider has to guarantee a minimum service speed, so perform regular speed tests to check you’re getting what you pay for. If a network issue means your speed is consistently slow – and cannot be fixed within 30 days – you should be able to leave without penalty.
  5. Long delay, get paid: If you’re experiencing regular broadband issues, don’t hesitate to contact your provider to see if they can help. If your connection goes down for more than two days you could be entitled to compensation of £8.40 a day, according to Ofcom. 
  6. Still not happy?: It’s time to switch. Run a comparison at to see which alternative broadband packages are available to suit your needs.


Chris Price
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