UK regulator releases broadband complaint figures

Ofcom, the U.K. body that regulates and oversees the telecommunications industry, says it received 26,926 broadband-related complaints from consumers in a 10-month period last year.

In response to a request issued under the Freedom of Information Act, the telecoms watchdog said that in the period from Jan. 1 to Oct. 23, 26,926 separate complaints or 'expressions of dissatisfaction' had been logged.

However, Ofcom was at pains to point out that this figure does not imply that any or all of these complaints had any foundation or that any complaints had been upheld. Ofcom itself does not investigate individual consumer complaints.

Ofcom said the "volume of complaints is considerably lower than the total reported number of communications about broadband services," meaning even more people have found their broadband service so unsatisfactory they have taken the trouble to make a formal complaint about it.

In some cases, according to Ofcom, consumers have made complaints about broadband provision without knowing which ISP (internet service provider) they have a subscription with. In these cases, Ofcom has not attributed broadband complaints to a specific ISP and they therefore do not appear on its breakdown of providers against which complaints have been logged.

In other cases, consumer ire looks to have been misdirected: to our knowledge, British Gas has no plans to break into the broadband market, yet Ofcom has reportedly received a complaint about its internet service.

From the figures that PC Advisor has seen, ISPs that were in the process of being taken over, going to the wall or rolling out a new service to a vast number of customers came in for most flak. These included Bulldog, E7Even, Orange, Talk Talk, Tiscali and Wanadoo. A significant number of complaints were logged against BT, too, but since most consumers are aware that BT provides the infrastructure for many other ISPs' broadband lines, this was hardly a surprise.

Ofcom says its list of broadband providers with complaints against them should not be viewed as a league table and advises consumers to click here for details of providers previously or currently under investigation.

Ofcom was unable to provide a breakdown of the specific nature of the complaints received, whether related to changing between providers, inability to use the service or slower speeds than advertised. This was because doing so would have incurred research costs far in excess of the maximum of £450 (US$866) per enquiry mandated under the Freedom of Information Act.

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