Frustration over outdated broadband speed commitments and rising prices

Key findings

  • Government’s 10Mb ‘Universal Service Obligation’ falls below user expectations (55%)
  • Public divided over who should fund broadband in rural areas - ISPs (28%), government (32%) and network operators (31%) top list
  • Estimated 12 million broadband customers encountered at least one price increase in 2015 [1][2]

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Broadband comparison site Broadband Genie has today revealed more than half (55%) of Brits surveyed in its latest poll say the absolute minimum broadband speed should be more than 10Mb, raising concerns over the government’s announcement for a new Universal Service Obligation (USO) to provide broadband speeds of at least 10Mb. 

Rob Hilborn, head of strategy at Broadband Genie, says: “With the explosion of popularity in HD streaming and other bandwidth-heavy services, consumers expect high speed and stable broadband as standard. However, it’s important to remember the USO being proposed is in place to avoid issues where slow speeds lead to social exclusion, and arguably 10Mb should be sufficient to avoid this. 

“But technology is developing incredibly fast, meaning we could have a situation where we’ve got an out of date law in only a few years. The government needs to ensure we’re deploying a future proof solution for areas with poor broadband, and not just one that meets today’s requirements.”

Respondents were also asked who they think should be responsible for funding improvements to rural broadband. 32% said the government, 31% believe it is up to telecom network operators and 28% think it should be the broadband ISPs. The remaining 9% say the onus should be on the individuals who would directly benefit from upgrades.

“Putting the burden on the individual is unfair and will cause a situation where the less well off are priced out of accessing what many would say is a vital utility. At the end of the day, these areas need to be connected to faster broadband and someone is going to have to bite the bullet and pay for it - whether that’s the government,  providers, or a combination of both.”

Another concerning finding from the survey is that over half of broadband customers say they’ve experienced at least one price increase in 2015. Broadband pricing has come under the spotlight recently with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) criticising how products are advertised [3] and OFCOM reporting that line rental costs have surged since 2010 [4]. 

“It’s no wonder people are frustrated at the moment. A significant chunk of the population is stuck with slow and inadequate broadband, but at the same time being asked to stump up more cash. We’re leaving many communities and people in the technological dark ages and charging them for the privilege.

“Customers should either renegotiate their current deal if they’re out of contract or look around for something better. Ofcom guidelines state consumers should be notified 30 days before a price increase and given the opportunity to switch without penalty. However many ISPs have built price rises into the contract so we would urge everyone to read the small print before committing to a deal.” 


For further information please contact
Rob Hilborn on 01223 501 344 or [email protected] (interviews and quotes)
Matt Powell on [email protected] (technical)

Notes to editors
4,240 broadband customers from across the country were surveyed. The research was conducted online on Broadband Genie and with the polling company Censuswide between the 1st December – 31st December. The full data is available here:

[1] 23.7million (number of fixed residential broadband lines according to the latest OFCOM data) x 0.51 (number of customer who experienced a price increase in 2015) = 12,087,000

[2] Number of price increases in 2015 according to Broadband Genie’s data
0 - 36%
1 - 35%
2 - 12%
3 - 3%
I don’t know - 14%

[3] ASA’s research on broadband pricing advertising -

[4] OFCOM’s research on line rental costs -

About us
Broadband Genie is an independent switching site providing consumers and businesses with practical help, advice and price comparison for home broadband, mobile broadband, phones, TV services and mobile accessories.

Broadband Genie was launched in March 2004 as the first dedicated consumer comparison site for broadband. It is now one of the largest in the UK, attracting more than 200,000 visitors each month.