Home Broadband Survey 2013 analysis

Broadband Genie Home Broadband Survey winner awardHere you’ll find an analysis of the results of our Home Broadband Survey 2013 which explains in more detail how we came to a decision with the awards. If you’d just like to know which providers rose to the top, visit the Home Broadband Survey Awards page.

The main event of our Home Broadband Survey was the user poll, an independent survey conducted on our behalf by OnePoll, one of the UK’s leading market research companies. 

They asked broadband users across the UK five questions about their internet service, the most important being “would you recommend your broadband provider?”. Based on the results, Plusnet was awarded Best Broadband Provider 2013.

In last year’s poll an average of over 70% of the UK’s broadband customers would recommend their ISP. However in these latest results this number has fallen to more than than 60%. It’s not a huge drop, but does show that more of us were unsatisfied with the performance of our ISPs in 2012 compared to the previous year despite an improvement in average download speeds.

The best result was from Plusnet, which ranked first with 85% of its users saying they would recommend the service to others. Not only is this a great result by itself - over 10% higher than any other provider - but it’s an improvement over Plusnet’s previous performance in our survey when it received a 77% recommendation rating.

Next up was O2 at 74%, followed by Sky and Virgin who both achieved 72%. At the bottom of the scale was Be Broadband with just 54%; surprising considering it was given some very high ratings the last time. In total, four ISPs failed to perform better than average.

Also recorded by the poll were ratings for customer service, reliability, satisfaction of broadband speed, and technical support, as detailed in this table. 

OnePoll results: Percentage of positive responses per question per ISP
Provider Customer Service? Reliable Service? Speed Satisfaction? Technical Support? Would Recommend?
Be 46% 51% 51% 49% 54%
BT 57% 58% 56% 52% 57%
O2 71% 73% 63% 65% 74%
Orange 64% 70% 59% 57% 66%
Plusnet 78% 81% 75% 71% 85%
PostOffice 49% 57% 46% 49% 59%
Sky 63% 73% 61% 60% 72%
TalkTalk 47% 67% 50% 42% 57%
Virgin 61% 76% 74% 60% 72%


Each question had five possible answers: two positive, one unsure, and two negative. The above figures are the combination of both positive answers. Post Office broadband had the highest number of unsure results with 39% undecided regarding customer service and 40% unable to choose either way when it came to technical support.

In general the ratings for each category in 2013 are lower than our previous survey. Only Plusnet managed to improve all its results, though TalkTalk and Sky both had a minor uptick in positive answers in several areas.

Perhaps the most surprising outcome was Be and O2’s results. These are usually highly regarded ISPs and did very well last year - O2 and Be were winner and runner-up respectively in the Best Broadband Provider award - but both had a tumble this time round, particularly when it came to customers recommending their services. 

Previously 80% of Be users would have recommended them, now it’s just 54%. O2 still had a strong positive rating in comparison to the other networks, however, so were our runners-up for Best Broadband Provider.

Speed test results

In addition to our OnePoll survey we also analysed our home broadband speed test data from the past 12 months. Almost 50,000 results were gathered using the Think Broadband speed test tool.

Overall the average for the year is a stonking 9.3Mb, from 4Mb the last time, a good sign that UK broadband speeds are steadily increasing (even if it’s not happening as quick as we’d all like). Upload speeds are still weak though...only 1.48Mb!

Broken down by ISP, Virgin Media was dubbed Fastest Broadband Provider thanks to an average of 16.8Mb, which is not all that surprising when they have a widespread cable network offering up to 120Mb. The success of its speed upgrade program is also evident as Virgin’s average speeds had more than doubled by the end of 2012 compared with the beginning of the year.

Not too far behind Virgin was BT, whose growing number of fibre-enabled exchanges contributed to an average 9.9Mb. Related to this is Plusnet and Zen, both of whom had an average download of more than 7Mb. These providers - among many others - are now offering services using BT fibre links which will have had no small impact upon average broadband speeds.

Home broadband panel

Rounding off our Home Broadband Survey was our panel of experts, who were asked to nominate an ISP in three categories before selecting a winner and runner-up from the final selection.

The judges included Trefor Davies, CTO and co-founder of business ISP Timico, Ben Atherton, founder of free mobile broadband service Samba Mobile, and industry expert Andrew Ferguson, Editor of Think Broadband.

Sky was voted Best Bundled Broadband. Virgin Media came a close second, but Sky’s premium satellite TV service, solid broadband offerings and good value deals made it a winner. Also receiving a mention was BT, whose broadband and TV bundle was bolstered earlier this year when it began offering YouView boxes.

Hyperoptic was voted Most Innovative Provider. You may not have heard of this small company, but they’ve been making waves with their own fibre optic network. 

Though currently limited to parts of London, Hyperoptic brings ultrafast 1 gigabit internet links directly into homes with fibre to the premises (FTTP) technology far superior to the fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) being rolled out by BT and supported by the UK government.

Another service offering FTTP is Innovation Award runner-up Gigaclear, which is focused on bringing fast internet access to rural areas which have been ignored by the bigger providers. Also nominated  was Eclipse, which provides a fairly unique bonded DSL service.

Finally, our panel voted for the Best Budget Provider, which went to Plusnet. They offer some very cheap packages with big savings for light net users and there are even value-priced fibre options so you don't need to skimp on speed. Vitally, Plusnet offers excellent UK-based support, which can be a weakness with other budget ISPs.


  • happy

    by N London at 10:35 on 3 Feb 2013 Report abuse

    Happy to see my own experience with PlusNet endorsed by the judges.
    Good to see that Customer Service and Loyalty is recognised over the modern trend of getting new customers.

  • happy

    by Graham Rose at 13:55 on 12 Feb 2014 Report abuse

    "Another service offering FTTP is Innovation Award runner-up Gigaclear, which is focused on bringing fast internet access to rural areas which have been ignored by the bigger providers." I wish I had known about your survey before today 12th February 2014. Gigaclear provides a fantastic product. Graham Rose

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