Nine million broadband customers don’t believe they get the speeds they pay for – research by Uswitch

by | Oct 15, 2022

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With many broadband customers braced for hefty inflation-linked price rises early next year, over nine million say they are not getting the speeds they believe they signed up for[1], according to new research from, the comparison and switching service.

A quarter of customers (25%) say they regularly fail to receive the internet speeds they should, while 7% say they never do[1]. Despite this, around half (46%) of affected customers say they have asked for compensation from their provider[2].

According to Ofcom’s code of practice on broadband speeds, which most companies have signed up to, your provider should give you a minimum guaranteed speed for your service at the point of signing up, which you can find in your contract.

The rise of home working and the number of Wi-Fi devices in UK households has increased the demand for speedy and reliable internet, and one in five (21%) people surveyed said they would not mind paying more for a faster connection[4].


Yet the research reveals many households are suffering in silence when it comes to their broadband, with one in ten consumers (9%) considering leaving their provider due to substandard speeds[3].

It also highlights customer confusion over broadband speeds. Two fifths of users (42%) admit not knowing what speed their package is supposed to deliver[5], while only one in six (17%) are aware that many advertised speeds are based on the speed delivered directly to the router, such as through using an ethernet connection, rather than via Wi-Fi[6].

A common point of confusion is that the speed estimates offered by your provider are linked to the connection in your area and – for packages with download rates of 30Mbps or more – on the line direct to your home.


It is likely to be different from the provider’s headline advertised figure, an average based on the speeds at least half of customers can get at peak times.

Ofcom’s rules, which apply to deals taken out since March 2019, say that if you aren’t getting the minimum guaranteed speeds you were promised for three days in a row you can ask your provider to check for a fault. If they can’t fix it within 30 days, they then must let you leave your contract without paying an early exit fee.

Some providers may offer compensation for persistent slow speeds. For example, BT’s Stay Fast guarantee will pay £20 if your speeds aren’t back to normal within a month.


Table: Broadband compensation for below guaranteed speeds


What you must do




Broadband speeds received by BT Hub from the network must be below minimum guarantee. Perform BT speed test and fault checks. Compensation due if speeds are not back to normal within 30 days of complaint.



Virgin Media

For Gig1 or Volt customers, Virgin Media guarantees a minimum download speed of 20Mbps in every room of your home using mesh Wi-Fi pods to boost your signal*. Compensation due if download speeds not met 30 days after contacting Virgin and performing checks.


£100 credit


Sky speed guarantee for customers on Broadband Superfast, Superfast 35, Ultrafast, Ultrafast Plus or Gigafast packages. Compensation due if speed falls below minimum guarantee for at least three days in a row and has been checked using Sky’s speed checker.

Cost of one month’s Broadband & Talk subscription (can only be claimed twice within minimum term)


Will allow customers to leave without penalty if they consistently receive speeds below minimum guarantee and this is not resolved after 30 days


* Other Virgin Media broadband customers can pay extra £8 a month for the same Wi-Fi guarantee.

Ernest Doku, broadband expert at, comments: “With mid-contract broadband prices looming in the spring, it can be infuriating when such an essential service doesn’t do what you expect to be paying for.

“Latest Ofcom data shows over a third of households can now get full fibre connections, offering speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps, so if you’re struggling with sluggish broadband, the chances are there are far faster packages you can move to.

“When choosing a broadband deal, it’s important to remember that the headline speeds shown are national averages for the provider, rather than a promise of what you will get.

“A provider should send you a minimum guaranteed speed, and a speed range when you take out a deal, and this will be what you can use to see if your connection is living up to the billing.

“If you are unsure what speeds are available to you, run a comparison of the broadband packages on offer in your area and make sure you read the fine print before you sign on the dotted line. 

“If you have already taken out a broadband deal and don’t think you’re getting the speeds you are paying for, do a speed test and speak to your provider about the service you are receiving. If you are regularly falling below the minimum guaranteed speed, you could be entitled to compensation and your provider should look to solve your slow connection.”

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