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Customer support - the forgotten front in the broadband war
Tuesday 17 October 2006 19:46:00 by Andrew Ferguson has interviewed 2122 people during January and February 2006 to ascertain detailed information on their Internet usage.

It appears from the survey that only 75% of households are happy with their broadband providers support service, the other 25% are irritated and frustrated with support. Download speeds get a higher rating with 82% satisfied, and overall 91% are happy with the quality and reliability of the service.

It is worth bearing in mind that this survey was carried at the start of 2006, before the various 'free' broadband bundle offers and the launch of the BT Wholesale Max up to 8Mbps products in April 2006. The rate adaptive services ADSL which are mainly behind the up to 8Mbps products will have exposed issues such as noise pick-up by telephone extensions in the home which can slow down a service or make it intermittent. For the average broadband user resolving these issues while relatively straightforward if you understand the issues is potentially very confusing. Additionally a number of broadband providers have tried to embrace unbundled services. which has a higher fault rate at the point of service transfer than traditional IPStream products, so a lot more people are now contacting their providers support line.

The success of the 'free' broadband bundle offers suggests that unfortunately too many people are choosing on price alone, and not looking into the costs of calling support and finding out too late that they need to buy a providers own broadband hardware to actually get any support for connection problems, or that 20 minutes on hold at 10p per minute is £2 even before an agent has talked to you. One big problem in the broadband market is that you cannot test drive a provider, and even where providers have a short contract the process of migrating to a different provider has got worse as the number of unbundled options has increased.

Visitors to this website are able to rate their service provider both when doing a speed test or at any other time. The results are then made available on our ISP Comparison tool, this allows you to compare six different providers at a time. While not a perfect system, if a provider has thousands of ratings it is more likely to be a good reflection of what people think of the service. The comparison between ten of the larger providers can be seen here and here. We display the ratings for a few months to allow you to see any trends with a provider and if you hover your mouse cursor over a coloured bar, the exact percentage score and number of ratings will be displayed.


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