Home Broadband Awards 2011 analysis

This analysis page is designed to add a little more background information to the the Genie Home Broadband Awards 2011. If you're simply looking for the winners and runners-up, please head over to the Awards page.

The overall Best Broadband Provider Award 2011 was won by O2 Broadband. This was based on independent research conducted for Broadband Genie by OnePoll with the key question being, 'Would you recommend your broadband provider?'

The average over the study (of more than 3,000 customers from nine of the largest UK ISPs) saw more than 70 per cent of broadband users saying they were satisfied, or better, with their home broadband.

However, a staggering 89 per cent of O2 customers said they would recommend its service, placing it almost 10 per cent ahead of closest rival BE Broadband, which polled an impressive 80 per cent itself. Plusnet (77 per cent), the Post Office (77 per cent) and Virgin Media (75 per cent) also performed above the average.

It is worth noting here that even the lowest average rated ISP (61 per cent for TalkTalk) saw well above half of its customers saying they would recommend it. This shows that in general, UK customers are satisfied with their broadband providers.

Best Broadband Support 2011 was also decided via the OnePoll statistics. We asked two separate questions ('Does your broadband provider give good general customer care?' and 'Does your broadband provider give good technical support?') and tallied the results for the award.

Once again O2 was head and shoulders above the competition, averaging positive responses of more than 80 per cent across the two categories. Similarly, Be Broadband was again around 10 per cent behind, averaging just over 70 per cent. Next was Plusnet (which topped 70 per cent for customer service), while again the Post Office and Virgin Media were above the overall average of 62 per cent satisfaction.

Our OnePoll survey also measured reliability and satisfaction with speed. All the results for each individual ISP are in the table below.

OnePoll results: Percentage of positive responses per question per ISP
Provider Customer Service? Reliable Service? Speed Satisfaction? Technical Support? Would Recommend?
Be 72% 77% 73% 70% 80%
BT 60% 72% 63% 52% 69%
O2 86% 53% 83% 81% 89%
Orange 55% 68% 55% 46% 67%
Plusnet 71% 72% 65% 63% 77%
PostOffice 64% 86% 65% 65% 77%
Sky 64% 71% 61% 55% 69%
TalkTalk 48% 68% 60% 42% 61%
Virgin 66% 78% 72% 61% 75%


Note: Each question had five possible outcomes: two positive, two negative and one unsure. The percentage figures above are the addition of the two positive answers in each category.

The only very large undecided vote was for O2 on reliability, with 42 per cent of its customers answering they were 'unsure'.   

Speedtest results

The home broadband award for Fastest Broadband Provider 2011 was taken from speedtest results carried out through Broadband Genie throughout the year.

Almost 40,000 verified results were analysed, using Think Broadband's well respected speed test tool. The average throughout the tests was 4Mb, but Virgin Media almost doubled that. It was head and shoulders above the competition, with only Zen Internet, Be Broadband and O2 also recording averages above 5Mb. 

While Be recorded a better average overall speed than Zen, we decided to give the runners up award to Zen because it will provide its broadband across many more BT lines - Be will only provide a service where it can ensure faster speeds because the exchange has been upgraded to provide faster speeds. This somewhat skews its results in the overall picture, compared to others providing a service over BT's lines.

It should also be noted that these four ISPs dragged the average speed up by almost 1Mb, with only BT, TalkTalk (both around 3.3Mb) and Sky Broadband (just) averaging over 3Mb.

The home broadband panel

Three of our awards were decided by votes from our panel of broadband experts, who first nominated an ISP in each category before voting for both a winner and runner up. Weighting was given to each expert's first choice, with all the results added up for a final total.

The panel included the likes of London Internet Exchange (LINX) chairman Grahame Davies, business broadband ISP Timico's CTO Trefor Davies, Think Broadband co-founder Sebastien Lahtinen, current Web User editor Daniel Booth and myself, amongst others.

In the category for Best Bundled Broadband 2011, there were also nominations for BT and Sky, but winner Virgin Media and runner-up O2 were well ahead of the pack. both are strong on speed and variety in packages, but Virgin's quadplay offerings and high end 50Mb deals are hard to beat for variety.

For Best Budget Broadband 2011, Plusnet was way out in front with Tesco Broadband a respectable second. There were also nominations for both Sky broadband and TalkTalk. Plusnet has proven it is possible to offer cheap home broadband while also going above and beyond when it comes to customer care - something some of its larger rivals can learn from.

In the final panel category, Most Innovative Broadband 2011, it was again very close between Be Broadband and Virgin Media. There was a strong third place for AAISP, which offers to fix your line if you migrate to it - and if it can't, you can migrate away again owing it nothing. Green ISP Ecomins was also in the running for its carbon neutral offering.

The Broadband Genie poll

The last award was voted for by visitors to the site, who voted in our poll during December.In total more than 1,500 votes were cast, with winner BT Fibre and runner-up Virgin Media's TV service, TiVo, running away with it.

Which will be the most significant broadband innovation of 2011?
The continued roll-out of BT Fibre broadband 745 (47.2%)
100Mb Virgin Media cable home broadband 127 (8%)
YouView internet TV, supported by the BBC 91 (5.8%)
4G mobile broadband 166 (10.5%)
Virgin Media's TiVo television service 450 (28.5%)
Total responses 1579  


  • unhappy

    by garry (essex) at 13:55 on 10 Jun 2011 Report abuse

    i have been with talktalk for the last 4 years and everything was fine with the service and technical support until they took on Tiscali.
    since then i have had the broadband connection fail more times than i can remember and now not only does the broadband disconnect but the phone at my end goes dead and anybody calling gets the talktalk answerphone telling them that i am on the phone.
    you can no longer obtain a contact number to speak to somebody at talktalk about the failure, you simply get a recorded message telling you that there is a fault and this is using a mobile which cost's the user as there are no free numbers except from your talktalk phone ( Brilliant when it's Not Working ) Would Not Reccommend TalkTalk to Anyone. Changing my Broadband Provider Today...

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