broadband cables

Broadband outages have tripled since the pandemic began, affecting 15m people

Broadband outages have tripled for people in the UK over the last year, with almost 15 million consumers facing downtime of three or more hours, a study has found.

The survey of 4,000 people by, found that over three in ten experienced an outage during office hours. Extrapolated to the population, this hit the economy to the tune of nearly £5bn.

A third of people used their mobile data during an outage, the research found, and almost two thirds of these burned through their whole monthly allowance during this time.

Edinburgh was found to suffer the highest number of outages, losing more than nine million hours of broadband in total over the last year. Residents of Belfast, however, saw the shortest amount of downtime, with the city reporting only 11 hours of downtime in 12 months.

With many people in office roles poised to take on a hybrid working approach where they spend a portion of their week at home, the robustness of the UK’s broadband network is increasingly important to businesses. In January, it emerged that remote working positions have trebled since start of pandemic.

Despite the inconvenience, only four in ten customers who experienced outages complained to their provider about the issue. 

Ernest Doku, broadband expert at, said: “Outages have affected the country like never before over the past 12 months, with three times as many people complaining of a lost connection as 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.

“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.”

While outages may have worsened, recent figures from Ofcom showed that broadband speeds increased by 25 per cent since 2019, from 64Mbit/s to 80.2Mbit/s on average.

The Government has pledged that at least 85 per cent of UK premises will be able to access a gigabit-capable connection by the end of 2025, although they have faced criticism in recent months over its slow rollout.

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