Are you a ‘heavy user’? New survey reveals extent of nation’s broadband addiction

30 June 2017

Majority of Brits now medium or heavy broadband users, yet 46% have never tested speed of their connection

  • 50% of people now use broadband to access catch-up TV services;
  • 34% use services like Netflix to stream films;
  • However, 46% of Brits have never tested the strength of their broadband signal;
  • 9% say their broadband is too slow for what they want to do;

The majority of Brits are now classed as medium to heavy broadband users, with just 22% saying they only use their connection to browse the internet, email and access social media.

Faster broadband has enabled millions of us go online to watch TV and films, listen to music, game, shop, sell and work – often all at the same time.  But research* from GoCompare Broadband reveals that 46% of Brits have never tested the strength of their broadband signal. 

 What do you use your home broadband for?  Percentage of broadband users
 Watching catch-up TV services like iPlayer  50%
 Streaming films and box sets – eg via services like Netflix  34%
 Streaming music – eg via services like SpotifyWatching catch-up TV services like iPlayer  22%
 Just to browse the internet and keep in touch via email and social media  22%
 I have a large family with lots of devices  20%
 Cloud storage and/or upload/download large files  18%
 Gaming online using Playstation Plus or Xbox Live  17%
 Working from home regularly  16%
 Running a business from home  6%

The speed of your internet connection matters.  It determines how much data you can send or receive.  The speed you require will depend on your internet use and the size of your household.  Faster broadband allows for quicker downloads for watching on-demand films and TV and, downloading music.  It also balances out the demands of different family members logging on at the same time.

The survey of over 1,950 broadband consumers found that while 81% say they regularly browse the internet and keep in touch via email and social media,  only 22% now say this is the extent of their broadband use.

Increasingly, Brits are watching catch-up TV services (50%); streaming films and TV programmes (34%) and music streaming via platforms such as Spotify (22%).  While 18% use cloud storage facilities and 17% are gaming online.  16% now say they work from home on a regular basis and 6% use the internet to run a home business.

A fifth of those surveyed said that they have a large family and lots of devices connected to the internet.  A significant minority (9%) said their broadband is too slow for what they want to do.

The survey also asked participants about the strength of their broadband signal.  Just over a fifth (21%) know their broadband strength and regularly test it, while 46% had never done so.  The survey also found that 21% of people couldn’t access faster broadband in the area in which they live, 14% said that faster broadband speeds are available but they haven’t switched over.

The survey also found that a third of broadband users have never switched suppliers.

Commenting on the research, Tom Lewis from GoCompare said, “In a short space of time, the internet has revolutionised the way we work, shop and play.  Faster connections allow us to do so much more, so it’s important to think about the most appropriate connection speed based on how we use the internet.”

“General web browsing, checking social media and shopping is unlikely to require a particularly speedy connection but, regular downloading and streaming of music, films and TV will require both a faster connection and a larger download allowance.

“Faster broadband download speeds typically cost more so, it’s sensible to make sure that the package you sign-up to reflects your household usage.  However, be wary, advertised speeds are the maximum you could get, in reality they could be considerably slower.”

Tom continued, “You also need to think about how much content you download from the internet.  Our survey suggests most of us are medium to heavy users so should probably opt for an unlimited data deal.  Otherwise, if you sign-up to a package with a download cap and exceed it, your provider may require you to either reduce your usage or upgrade to a more expensive arrangement. You are also likely to be charged for usage in excess of the cap.”

“As a result, it is well worth reviewing your broadband package to make sure your service can keep up with your growing online requirements.” 

For more information on broadband speeds and saving money on your broadband service, see GoCompare's dedicated guide page.

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Notes to editors:

*On 6 January 2017, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 2001 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists.  The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.