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Altnet broadband customers tend to be happier, says Cable

A consumer broadband study by Cable reveals that customers of smaller providers and altnets tend to be more satisfied with their service

A study of broadband consumers in the UK has found that users of services supplied by smaller providers and altnets were much more likely to declare themselves to be satisfied customers than those who plumped for larger providers such as BT.

Despite accounting for 87% of the UK’s consumer broadband market, the big four providers – BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media – all ranked towards the bottom of the league table, said the report, which was commissioned by comms analysts at Cable.co.uk.

The study of 6,000 people rated the internet service providers (ISPs) out of 10 on customer service, reliability, value for money and equipment supplied. These four scores were then combined to produce an average rating.

It found that SSE – which is owned by utility Scottish and Southern Energy – received the highest rating of 7.94, followed by BT-backed Plusnet at 7.66, and Post Office Broadband at 7.54.

Other smaller altnets – or which eight in total were named by respondents – were combined into one category, which sat fourth in Cable’s chart with an average score of 7.44.

This was followed by the household names, with Sky at 7.18, Virgin Media at 7.14, EE at 7.12, BT at 6.9, TalkTalk at 6.66, and Hull’s KC at the bottom with 5.82.

“Broadly speaking, the more customers you have the more difficult it can be to keep them happy. High call volumes often force larger companies to migrate to more one-size-fits-all systems that target the most common problems, but that often means a struggle for customers whose difficulties don’t fit a predetermined type,” said Cable’s Dan Howdle.

“Customers often have different priorities. If you want the fastest speeds or the most TV channels, you may be willing to accept middling or even poor customer service and problem handling to get it, and rationalise that choice by supposing it will never happen to you. But, of course, it often does.”

Meanwhile, a separate survey produced by comparison site Broadbandgenie on rural broadband roll-out found has substantial support for the position that the government has not been doing enough to address the needs of rural areas, with 47% in agreement and just 13% saying it had.

The report results also showed strong support for the idea of providing discounted broadband services to those receiving slow speeds, with 79% in favour, but found little support for the idea of paying more to subsidise rural roll-out, with 53% against.

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