Slow BT Broadband?

BT's latest TV advert shows off their plans for a nationwide rollout of fibre connections, which will provide high speed Internet access to those lucky users. Unfortunately, their goal of 40% coverage by 2012 is of no use to anyone experiencing slow broadband now.

My own BT broadband has been disgracefully slow for the last seven days, and nothing has been done about it. I thought I'd take the opportunity to publish an overview of how others should deal with their slow BT broadband, to help us all get what we are paying for.

As this is an ongoing process, this guide will be updated with my own progress.

Check your connection

Before calling BT, check your current speed on the BT Speedtester. Choose Yes, and enter your landline number. Following the test, you will be shown details similar to below.

BT Speedtester showing extremely poor download speed

If the download speed bar shows anything less than about 50%, you should certainly complain to BT. Rural areas may receive a maximum of 2000Kbps while some cities may get 20,000Kbps. Whatever your maximum speed, you should be getting close to it.

Your IP Profile, shown last, is an important number as this is the maximum speed at which you can download. If this is low, BT may have limited it following technical problems, and can be easily corrected by their customer support.

Keep the speedtest results on the screen when calling BT customer support, so you can read them any details they ask for.

BT customer support (0800 111 4567)

Sadly, BT technical support has become a complete laughing stock. While BT Wholesale runs most of the phone exchanges, you can't talk to them directly, so have to go through this number. The Indian call centre can run basic checks on your line, but both the issues I've experienced have required engineer visits to the house and the exchange.

They'll want to go through some basic checks first, but bear in mind that if you haven't changed anything at home, the problem is probably elsewhere.

In my experience, engineers visiting your home can be arranged quite quickly, if required. After two visits though, this didn't help fix our problem.

Annoyingly, arranging engineer visits to the exchange, where the problem is most likely, seems very difficult. I was told it would take eleven days for a suitable engineer.

Keep a record of key points

I've found it really useful to keep notes while talking to customer support, because they've given some conflicting information. This also meant I could keep track of how long I've spent dealing with this, and how long I've been on hold.

Write to the chairman

If your broadband speed problems continue for more than you think is acceptable, it's worth taking the time to complain in writing. Tell BT what the problem is, and ask why the process is taking so long. Include any issues you've had while dealing with customer services, in the hope that they might take note and improve.

Their address is: BT Correspondence Centre, Providence Row, Durham, DH98 1BT.

As the chairman of BT, the office of Sir Michael Rake will only be too pleased to hear of the issues you have experienced, and where the company needs to improve.

His address is: Sir Michael Rake, Chairman British Telecommunications plc, 81 Newgate Street, London EC1A 7AJ.

I had a call from the chairman's office two days after writing to him, and was also contacted by the BT Technical Complaints team in Newcastle. Neither were able to improve the situation, as BT Wholesale was responsible for oversubscribing the local exchange.


Previously, when our internet connection was ran slowly for two weeks, it was fairly easy to receive compensation for the whole month. At the time I was perfectly happy with this, as I just wanted a reliable internet connection.

During my six hours of discussions with BT customer services this week, compensation for up to six months was mentioned. The chairman's office though told me that this was incorrect, and that compensation is not paid for home broadband connections as the service is not guaranteed.

Your experiences

Please get in touch if you are having similar broadband problems, and would like any technical advice on how to get the problems solved.

Right to reply

I would relish the opportunity to publish a reply from BT as to how they explain their complete lack of urgency and incapable technical support in this situation, so please do get in touch.

Last updated on 05 October 2010, at 18:09.