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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 December 2007, 02:07 GMT
Broadband customers put on hold
Man on phone
People wait an average of 17 minutes to speak to provider
A survey looking at UK broadband services has revealed a downturn in customer satisfaction levels.

Customer complaints now outnumber service-related enquiries by 52% to 48%, the study by market research firm JD Power found.

According to the survey, people wait an average of 17 minutes to get technical help from their broadband provider.

Ratings for performance and reliability of broadband services were also down on last year's figures.

The survey, now in its third year, looked at eight of the UK's leading broadband providers and examined them on seven factors including performance, reliability, customer service and technical support.

Tiscali came out on top, scoring 668 out of a possible 1,000, with BT coming in last place with 626.

Average satisfaction levels, judged largely on reliability of service, have fallen by nine points to an average of 645.

Cheaper and faster

Tiscali - 668 out of 1,000
Virgin Media - 660
Sky - 657
AOL - 646
Orange - 636
Pipex - 634
Talk Talk - 630
BT - 626

"Last year broadband was still a novelty and people were wowed by how much faster it was than dial-up," said Caspar Tearle, director of service industries research at JD Power.

"This year everyone expects it to be fast and get angrier when it doesn't work."

But it is not all gloomy news.

The survey found that people paid an average of 21 a month for broadband, down from 26 in 2006.

Speed is also increasing, according to the survey, with the average connection rising from 3.5Mbps (megabits per second) last year to 4.8Mbps.

This is considerably less than the 10Mbps offered as the UK average by recent OECD figures.

The disparity illustrates both how difficult it currently is to get reliable figures for broadband speeds and the big gap between advertised speeds and actual speeds achieved.

Many factors govern the maximum speeds people get from their ADSL service, including the distance they live from the telephone exchange and the quality of the telephone wiring in their home.

A study by Computeractive magazine found that 62% of people got less than half of the advertised speed of their service.

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