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Virgin, Sky, BT and TalkTalk beaten by smaller rivals in broadband ranking

broadband File photo dated 15/01/14 of a broadband cable and router. Broadband customers will be able to switch suppliers more easily under new plans drawn up by Ofcom. The regulator said customers were put off from switching between services, especially when changing from those operating on the Openreach network to other providers that use their own cables, including Virgin Media or CityFibre. Issue date: Tuesday September 28, 2021.
Which?'s broadband rankings placed Virgin Media, Sky, BT and TalkTalk below smaller rivals (Rui Vieira, PA Images)

Virgin, Sky, BT and TalkTalk have been beaten by smaller broadband rivals according to a customer satisfaction survey.

The big four broadband firms placed below the likes of Zen Internet, Hyperoptic and Community Fibre, which topped the table based on a survey of 4,471 people with a home broadband contract, Which? said.

Virgin Media finished bottom in the rankings, according to the survey, receiving the lowest scores in the areas of customer service and communication. With a customer score of only 56%, customers said the company was hard to get in touch with and many suffered from connection dropouts.

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Sky was second bottom, receiving the lowest rank for connection speed and a score of 57%. Its customers were the most likely to say the reliability of their connection was poor. Value for money is also a weakness: one in five Sky customers gave this a low rating and half of those who had switched away from Sky told Which? they had been motivated by a price rise.

Read more: How much the major broadband providers are increasing their prices by

BT, the UK’s biggest provider, scored 62%. It was competitive for connection speed and reliability, but got middling ratings for customer service and technical support. Value for money was rated poor – unsurprising given that it was the first to introduce inflation-linked price rises in 2020. Despite the lacklustre ratings, BT customers were most likely to have been with the provider for more than three years.

TalkTalk secured the highest ranking of the UK's four big broadband providers with a score of 63% but it received low ratings for customer service and communication. Of the customers who had left TalkTalk for another provider, 38% said poor customer service was their main reason for doing so.

The big four broadband providers command around 70% of the market.

Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: “Our latest broadband provider rankings show that consumers could be better off choosing a smaller company which prioritises customer service over a giant that also stings them with unfair mid-contract price rises.

“Customers with contracts that are ending soon should look at their switching options as our research found that consumers that did that saved almost £100 on average."

Read more: AI risks wiping up to 8 million jobs in the UK, new report claims

Community Fibre was the top-scoring broadband provider at 71%. However, Which? said it is not eligible for its Recommended Provider status because it implements mid-contract price rises, and has not signed up to regulator Ofcom’s broadband speeds code of practice and automatic compensation scheme.

Zen Internet, 70%, is the only Which? Recommended Provider. It has committed to both Ofcom’s code of practice and automatic compensation scheme and has resisted the industry trend of introducing surprise increases.

Hyperoptic, 68%, operates its own full fibre network, but it is only available in 64 UK towns and cities. Its value-for-money rating and low prices make it the first broadband provider to get Which?’s Great Value endorsement.

Which? believes Ofcom needs to deliver on its proposals and ban inflation-linked price rises as soon as possible.

“Providers planning to cash in one last time in April with unfair mid-contract price hikes must do the right thing and adopt Ofcom's proposals as soon as possible, while firms falling short on customer service must up their game," Hitchins said.

Watch: Martin Lewis unveils top 10 best broadband providers to negotiate with on price

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