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Alex Neil: Isn’t it about time ‘superfast broadband’ got up to speed?

Broadband is no longer a luxury, it’s now seen as essential as food, housing and utilities for consumers. Yet sadly, we all seem to have experienced problems with our broadband service, with far too many people suffering from slow speeds, drop-outs and bad connections on a regular basis. Our research shows that up to 12.5 million households are frustrated with their broadband, and this is why Which? has launched its Fix Bad Broadband campaign.

Bad broadband is an issue right across Britain but in Scotland, particularly the most rural areas, there are specific challenges.

Alex Neill, Managing Director of Home Products and Services, WHICH?

Alex Neill, Managing Director of Home Products and Services, WHICH?

The telecoms regulator, Ofcom, should soon be ensuring that as a minimum people are able to access broadband speeds of 10 megabits per second. And almost 200,000 Scottish households cannot currently get anywhere near that speed. This problem is, unsurprisingly, most acute in rural parts of the country – Orkney, for instance – where 37 per cent of households cannot access this minimum speed.

There is some good news, though. While faster speeds may take time to deliver, the regulator is taking action to make broadband prices clearer, switching easier and to introduce automatic compensation when things go wrong. And the Scottish Government is also working to improve access to superfast broadband.

It recently made a major investment into its Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project, which will target areas with the lowest speed coverage including Aberdeenshire, Angus and Perthshire. That action is certainly needed, as Scotland lags behind other parts of the UK for superfast broadband provision, with 83 per cent of properties able to receive superfast, compared to 90 per cent in England. Take-up of superfast is low, though, with only a quarter of Scots actually actively using superfast connections.

Broadband providers often draw us in with promises of all-singing, all-dancing speed and service. But many people just don’t get the speed they need or pay for. Streaming movies and music is increasingly the norm, but this is totally dependent on a reliable connection.

It’s incredibly annoying when the internet cuts out when you’ve settled down to watch the latest episode of House of Cards, or if you’ve spent ages filling your online shopping basket but your connection is too slow to get you to the checkout This is not just a minor inconvenience for many of us – speed really does matter now. Connection problems can have a financial impact, as we’re all increasingly being forced to do things online.

It’s a real challenge if you can’t get online to sort out your banking and pay the bills. This is why the broadband industry needs to do much more to ensure people are getting the standard of broadband that they’re paying for and aren’t plagued by maddeningly slow speeds and unreliable service. To help you to fix bad broadband, Which? has launched a new, free speed checker in a drive to get the UK better connected.

This will help us to build up a better picture of the actual speeds and problems people are experiencing in Scotland. By using our speed checker, not only will you be able to test your connection, you can also compare your broadband speed with others living in your area to see if they’re getting a better service We also have tips and advice on how to improve your connection, and can help you to complain to your provider if you’re not happy.

By using our speed checker you will be helping us understand the scale of the problem and ultimately this will help us to get Scotland better connected.

To use the speed checker, visit: www.which.co.uk/fixbadbroadband

Alex Neill, Managing Director of Home Products and Services,Which?

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