Are you happy with your ISP?

ISP satisfaction levels vary widely from one brand to the next, even if their products seem largely indistinguishable

Wednesday, 29 May, 2024

On the face of it, there isn’t much to differentiate the UK’s internet service providers.

Take a look at the offers and contracts listed here on, and you’ll find a handful of standardised line speeds, including 35Mbps and 65Mbps FTTC connections.

Prices are kept low (and comparable) thanks to healthy competition, while many ISPs will use the same Openreach cables and even broadband routers to deliver their services.

At first glance, there’s little discernible difference between the service provided by one company and the next.

That’s why ISP satisfaction levels represent a key point of difference.

Patience is a virtue

It took almost four months for industry regulator Ofcom to tabulate and publish the findings from its most recent analysis of UK consumer complaints against ISPs.

The data, covering the final quarter of 2023, was released at the end of last month, and it does help to put some daylight between different companies in terms of ISP satisfaction levels.

It’s important to note that complaints to the industry regulator aren’t the same as complaints lodged with dispute resolution services like CISAS, which are counted and reported separately.

Another caveat is that Ofcom’s figures only relate to companies with at least 1.5 per cent national market share, which excludes regional firms like Grain or KCOM.

I wish to register a complaint

It’s perhaps not a coincidence that Virgin Media performed worst, while also having the largest full fibre cable network in the UK other than former monopoly-holder Openreach.

Virgin’s figure for broadband complaints was 20 per 100,000 customers in the final quarter of 2023, up by a third on the first two quarters of last year.

This placed it slightly behind NOW Broadband’s figure of 18 complaints per 100,000 customers, while Vodafone and Shell Energy both recorded 14 and TalkTalk was on 13.

These figures might sound low, but the time and effort required to lodge a formal complaint with an industry regulator means it’s usually a reluctant last resort by frustrated consumers.

More generally, the percentage of residential consumers describing themselves as satisfied with their ISP stands at a modest 82 per cent, having diminished slightly compared to 2022.

High ISP satisfaction levels came from Sky Broadband (five complaints per 100,000 customers), outperforming EE and Plusnet who shared second place with a figure of nine.

The industry average of 12 was fractionally bettered by BT with 11, though many BT customers are now being channelled onto EE-branded services.

To prove their poor broadband performance wasn’t a fluke, Virgin Media also received the most complaints regarding fixed line phone services and pay TV services, while partner O2 fared worst in terms of mobile complaints.

Handle with care

A recurring theme across many issues was customer dissatisfaction with complaints handling – another key differentiator between different brands.

Nobody expects to encounter issues with their internet connectivity, but given its importance in modern daily life, swift and effective complaints resolution should be a top priority for any ISP.

Equally, from a consumer perspective, it’s vital to approach ISPs in the right manner if you’re not happy with their service.

Take detailed notes of issues (including times and dates if relevant), presenting them in a calm manner that acknowledges the person you’re currently complaining to isn’t responsible for historic mistakes or faults.

If the ISP can’t resolve your complaints in a reasonable timeframe, you can escalate a complaint to a dispute resolution service (or Ofcom), or simply take your business elsewhere.

Neil Cumins author picture


Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!