The billion pound cost of broadband outages revealed

Shocking new research shows almost 11 million people have endured lengthy broadband outages in the last year.

Monday, 29 August, 2022

It’s a nightmare scenario.

You settle down in front of the laptop/TV/Xbox, to do some work/stream a box set/shoot some enemy combatants in the face, and there’s no internet connection.

If your plans for the day involved nothing more than Call of Duty, this lack of connectivity would simply be an inconvenience.

Yet if you need to work from home, broadband outages can be catastrophic.

Not only does the lack of WiFi and Ethernet connectivity cripple productivity, it’s also anxiety-inducing if you don’t know when you’ll be reconnected.

A recent survey by Opinium has shed some light on how prevalent domestic broadband outages are, how long they last, and what the cost is to the national economy each year.

The results are startling.

Out and not proud of it

Opinium solicited the opinions of four thousand UK adults, extrapolating that almost 11 million consumers had experienced broadband outages of over three hours in the last year.

If you’re attempting to log on half an hour before a vital conference call (or, even worse, an interview), that outage could feel interminable.

In total, 16 per cent of respondents were unable to work from home.

Unlike office environments with on-call IT staff, a lack of domestic connectivity is a problem the individual has to resolve by themselves.

Since causes could range from storm damage and DDoS attacks to overloaded routers and ISP maintenance, it’s not always easy for a private individual to determine (let alone correct) this.

The collective impact of these outages on the UK economy has been estimated at an eye-watering £1.28 billion.

This figure would be even higher, but many people ameliorate productivity shortfalls by working offline, or doing overtime in the evenings and weekends following reconnection.

Some of Opinium’s more alarming conclusions included eight per cent of people saying unreliable broadband had cost them either a promotion or a job.

One in ten has endured questions about their broadband service’s quality, while one in eight are working at home to save money – even if their connection is unreliable.

Outages fall but complaints rise

Other interesting conclusions from this survey included the fact that half of UK workers continue to work from home, despite many of them spending an average of two days per year offline.

At least the number of people enduring outages has fallen significantly from the previous year – 11 million, compared to almost 15 million previously.

Paradoxically, people are more likely to complain now than during the first year of the pandemic, possibly because we’re all more fatigued and less willing to excuse shortcomings.

More respondents have noticed their service deteriorating (14 per cent) than are planning to switch ISPs (12 per cent), which is a testament to British stoicism if nothing else.

What can we do about it?

Some connectivity issues may be down to essential infrastructure flaws which would affect any ISP, but others could be resolved by changing provider.

For anyone unwilling to accept inconsistent connectivity, there are hundreds of broadband deals in your area listed on this site.

And in the meantime, there are other ways to diminish the impact of a broadband outage.

Use computer software in offline mode, saving changes locally.

Conduct essential online research using a smartphone or tablet connected to the local 4G/5G network.

If you have a mobile dongle or MiFi router, now’s the time to top up its data – or you could always work at the local coffee shop/library/business hub temporarily…

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!