This report published in
March 2013 is based on an analysis of over 10,000 responses to The Big
Broadband Survey carried out by thinkbroadband between 22/06/2012 and
As the survey has been carried out online and promoted by thinkbroadband,
there will be a slight bias towards more IT-literate users as confirmed by
41% of respondents classifying themselves as 'confident' with IT and 49% as
'power users' or higher. The statistics overall may also therefore indicate
future trends as these users are more likely to be early adopters of
technology. It is worth noting that 69% of respondents did not work in
an IT function nor in the IT industry.
(click image to download survey report)
The survey sections included:
- General questions (location, business use & when first used broadband)
- Broadband Provider (package, pricing, importance of features, technology, hardware, etc.)
- Migration between providers (process, ease of migration, etc.)
- Broadband usage (applications, no of devices, social media, time/amount of use, wireless security)
- Super-fast and ultra-fast broadband (availability, willingness to pay more, expectations)
- Demographics (age, children in household, budgeting for broadband)
- Parental responsibility (parental controls and protecting children)
We will be repeating the survey in 2013 and would welcome suggestions from
anyone with ideas on questions that we should ask. It is our intention to re-run
key questions from the 2012 survey to plot trends across time however we are also
looking at new areas.
Any suggestions may be sent to
- The vast majority of the respondents (87%) have had a broadband connection for over 4 years; 71% for longer than 6 years (since 2006/7 or earlier).
- A slight bias exists in survey responses towards niche operators (8% of respondents using O2/BE versus 3% of market; and 8% respondents using smaller providers versus 5% of the market as at Q3/2012.
- 46% of respondents use their broadband for work use; 51% use it for personal use only. The survey shows evidence that there is a marginal willingness to pay more by users using their broadband for work use.
- There is a significant difference between business use between UK regions with London having the highest rate of work use (59%) followed by the South East (53%); the North East (36%) and Northern Ireland (32%) had the lowest levels.
- Orange, TalkTalk and AOL users were least likely to use their broadband for work.
Bundling & Pricing
- The vast majority (71%) of users buy broadband with at least one other service, the most common being 'broadband + home phone' (47%). Sky & Virgin Media lead the triple/quad play market. BT and TalkTalk focus on 'broadband + home phone' bundles.
- Users buying multiple services from the same provider spend considerably more, especially triple/quad play users. 37% of triple/quad-play users spend in excess of £60/month with their provider.
- There is no significant difference in the price paid for broadband across regions of the UK, or based on how long users have been with their current broadband provider.
- Users aged 65+ are twice as likely (56%) to stay with their broadband provider for more than four years as compared to users aged 18-24 (28%).
- Quality and reliability of a broadband connection (36%) was cited by respondents as the most important factor when selecting a broadband service with download speeds (21%) and price (15%) also being quoted.
- Additional services such as e-mail and web hosting were viewed as unimportant by users with increasing use of separate hosting companies and web-based e-mail providers.
- Virgin Media users were far more likely to be very satisfied (rated 5 of 5) with broadband speeds than most other larger providers (BT 19%; Sky 16%, TalkTalk 11%).
- There are regional variations with broadband speed satisfaction.35% of users in Wales were dissatisfied (rated 1-2 of 5) with broadband speed; compared to 21% in London.
- Users of Zen Internet, Eclipse, AAISP and IDNet rated the reliability highly (5 of 5) whilst Orange and AOL users were more likely to rate them low. Niche providers AAISP, Zen Internet, IDNet and Eclipse score highly on customer service. AOL, TalkTalk and Orange users are least satisfied.
- 56% of users review their choice of broadband package at least once a year. 28% rarely review it. Those who review their choices less frequently are not paying significantly more than those who review it more often.
- Around a third of O2/BE users are considering switching provider; this is likely to be due to O2/BE's lack of a fibre broadband solution.
- Of those who have migrated broadband providers, BT was the biggest winner taking roughly a third of migrations from each of O2, BE, Orange, Sky and TalkTalk. O2, BE and Orange are not benefiting significantly from new migrations.
- Download speed is the most important factor for those considering switching (33% rate it as primary reason; 64% consider it a factor); Price and service quality are also important (47% and 43% respectively consider these a factor in their decision with 18% each believing it to be the most important reason to switch).
- Three quarters of BE and O2 users planning to switch cited download speeds or the lack of fibre broadband as their reason. 59% of Sky Broadband and 52% of Orange users cited the same speed issues, as contrasting only 12% of Virgin Media users of which 42% left due to quality and reliability issues.
- A quarter of PlusNet users planning to switch were doing so due to download allowances/fair usage policies; a reason not often cited by users of other broadband providers. Since this survey PlusNet have removed Fair Usage Policies from unlimited packaged in December 2012.
- 6 in 10 users switched using the MAC process and overall 89% of users found the switching process easy. However, half of the users who couldn't use a MAC to switch found the process difficult. This further confirms the need for Ofcom to drive a new process for broadband migrations to better support the increasing use of fully bundled lines.
- Over a third of users still use an ISP-provided e-mail address, and of those, 61% would consider it a factor or deterrent in switching providers.
- Most users not on super-fast broadband services would pay little or nothing more for faster broadband at this time; however 64% of users were willing to switch providers to get super-fast broadband.
- 65% of users connect their mobile phone to their home broadband connection; Over a third have a games console and a quarter have an Internet-enabled TV/device that allows them to connect their television on the Internet to consume on-demand content.
- 21% of users may have a potentially insecure wireless network which does not use WPA/WPA2 encryption. Use of this feature which is strongly recommended for all wireless connections ranges from 71% for those not working in an IT function or in the IT industry to 91% of those working in IT indicating consumer awareness remains an issue. Increasingly broadband routers are now pre-configured to use WPA/WPA2 encryption however a number of old broadband routers are still in use, allowing neighbours or anyone nearby to use a broadband connection without permission. We expect this figure will fall in future years.
- Over half of 18-24 year olds (56%) spend in excess of 6 hours online each day. The most popular time to go online is between 6pm and midnight
Importance of Internet to users
- 86% of respondents believe the Internet is an important part of their social life, of which more than half believed it to be very important. Younger users are more likely to consider the Internet very important, however only a minority of users consider it insignificant across age groups, although it is worth noting that this is somewhat biased by the survey being conducted online.
- If being asked to give up one service, 49% would give up satellite/cable/digital TV, 30% mobile phone and only 2% would give up their broadband connection.
- The vast majority of parents believed talking to their children was a key aspect of keeping their children safe online with over 80% of parents with children aged 10 to 15 using this as one of their tools. Younger children are more likely to be supervised by locating the computer in a shared area and all use being supervised by an adult or older sibling. Parental control software provided by the operating system or purchased separately is used some of the time, more so for younger children.
- Two thirds of users use the broadband router supplied to them by their broadband provider; Around one third sourced their own hardware. 79% found the setup process easy.
- 95% of broadband faults reported to by respondents were fixed at no cost to the consumer. A significant number of broadband faults are taking days to fix.
- 14% of users struggle to pay for their broadband connection from household budgets (compared to 21% in an Australian survey in 2011); Respondents working in IT found budgeting significantly easier with only 8% struggling to find the money.