Citizens Advice: “UK broadband should be regulated as utility”

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Six out of 10 broadband consumers experienced slow service or had their connection stop working entirely in the last year, disrupting the ability of some consumers to work or study (24 per cent), pay bills or online bank (16 per cent), or connect with friends and family (21 per cent), new polling from Citizens Advice has found.

This latest polling builds on previous research from Citizens Advice that shows consumers face more problems in the mobile and broadband markets than other essential markets like energy and water.

With over a third of people saying they feel government does not take into account the interests of ordinary service users about mobile and broadband issues, Citizens Advice is calling on government to strengthen the voice of consumers in these markets by establishing a telecoms consumer advocate in the upcoming Consumer Green Paper. This would ensure telecoms consumers have the same representation as other essential markets like energy and water.

The new polling shows the wider impact a broadband service disruption may have. Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) said it had an impact on their ability to work or study, and 21 per cent said it had an impact on their ability to keep in touch with family and friends.

21 per cent of people are either always or regularly unable to pay bills online or do online banking because of their broadband connection.

Young people were more likely to be adversely affected if they faced a telecoms service disruption, with 33 per cent of 25-34 year olds reporting a broadband service issue had a fair or great amount of impact on their ability to work or study.

The survey also found:

  • Broadband customers spent on average 2.4 hours trying to resolve an issue of poor or no service.
  • A quarter of those surveyed felt they could not trust their broadband provider to resolve their problem quickly.
  • 26 per cent of those who switched broadband provider experienced delays.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “People now rely on their broadband and mobile connection for the day to day running of their lives. Yet the majority of people continue to face significant disruptions that can waste their time and stop them from being able to pay their bills, bank online, study, work or connect with family and friends. The government’s Consumer Green Paper is an opportunity to strengthen the voices of telecoms consumers by establishing a consumer advocate in broadband and mobile markets to reflect how essential these services are to people.”


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