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What to do when your broadband goes down

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Even the best broadband deals can come with issues from time to time; internet blackouts are widespread, though most only last for a few minutes. However, frequent extended outage periods can be a symptom of a larger issue. Thankfully, they can often be easily solved. 

If you want to avoid dealing with internet blackouts, it’s important to ensure you are working with one of the best broadband providers for your area. Providers with effective customer service and dedicated customer support lines make it easier to understand and resolve your internet blackouts or prevent them from happening as often. 

This article explains everything you need to know about broadband outages, from the most common reasons they occur to the most effective solutions for fixing them, so you can get your internet back up and running in no time.

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Why does wifi sometimes drop out?

Internet outages can happen for several reasons. An old or damaged router can cause outages, while high internet traffic and too many connected devices can cause drops in speed. External factors such as bad weather, damaged cables or cyberattacks can also cause broadband outages. 

In 2023, over 20 million people across the UK experienced wifi outages lasting three hours or more. The cities with the worst broadband outages include Southampton, Newcastle, Birmingham, Liverpool and Nottingham

What to do if your broadband goes down

If you are experiencing frequent broadband outages, there are steps you can take to alleviate the issue. Check out this step-by-step guide on some of the best ways to restore your broadband connection.

Check your devices

If you have connectivity problems, it’s important to check if all your devices suffer from the same issue. Check your laptop, phone, tablet and other devices to see if any of them can connect to your wifi. If only one of your devices is disconnected, then the problem does not lie with your broadband connection.

Move closer to the router

The placement of your router will have a significant impact on your broadband speeds. If your connection is weaker in certain areas of your home, consider moving closer to the router or moving the router to a central location.

Reboot the router

If moving closer to your router isn’t solving the problem, you may need to reboot it. Ensuring your router is up to date is the best way to ensure stable performance, and a quick reboot can often help to solve the problem. Turn off and unplug your router for a few minutes and then reconnect it. 

Try a wired connection

Using an ethernet cable can create a stronger connection than a wireless one. You can connect a laptop or a computer directly to your router for a reliable connection; however, this solution cannot be utilised with a handheld device, such as a phone or tablet.

Disconnect other devices

If your broadband connection is weak or keeps dropping out, you may have too many devices connected simultaneously. Disconnecting unused devices that are hogging the bandwidth, such as gaming consoles or laptops, can help improve performance and speeds.

Check for outages in the area

One of the quickest ways to check whether your broadband connectivity issues are isolated is to check for outages. Outages may be due to an issue with your broadband company or issues in your area, such as damaged cables or bad weather. 

Websites such as Downdetector can offer information about the performance of some of the biggest broadband providers. You can also check your provider’s website directly, as it should supply updates if it is experiencing a blackout or issues with its service.

Contact your provider

If you haven’t been able to solve the problem with any previous solutions and all your equipment is working normally, the best step is to contact your provider directly. Some of the best broadband providers offer dedicated customer support lines or online chat features, making it much easier to fine a solution to your broadband issues. 

Options for temporary internet if wifi is down for some time

A few options are available if your broadband is down for some time. Using 4G or 5G data from a mobile device can be reliable – although this will depend on your mobile provider and location – and it can be tethered to other devices, such as a laptop or tablet. 

Depending on your situation, you can also connect to other wifi sources, such as public wifi from a coffee shop or library. However, you should always be mindful of public wifi, as it can be unsecure and vulnerable to malicious attacks. Using public wifi is not recommended if you plan to look at sensitive information, whether personal or work-related.

What should I do if my broadband keeps going down?

If you are suffering from persistent broadband outages, you may want to consider investing in a wifi extender. If you are specifically struggling with outages in certain areas of the home, a wifi extender can help provide better coverage for low-signal areas. 

However, regardless of your equipment and router placement, it might be time for a new broadband provider if your broadband keeps going down. Not every broadband provider in your area will be able to provide consistent speeds for your needs, making it important to test the speed of your broadband to ensure it works for your household. Use our guide on how to find out and test the speed of your broadband

Broadband outages FAQs

If you work from home and your wifi is disconnected, using the 4G or 5G data from a mobile device is the most reliable way to connect. The stability of your data connection will depend on your mobile provider and what region you are in, but it should allow for a tethered connection to a work laptop or tablet. 

For workers engaging in more intensive tasks, such as video conferencing or online graphics work, you might consider connecting to another wifi network, such as a neighbour’s or public wifi. It’s important to remember that public wifi is more vulnerable to attacks than a private network, so it is best to avoid handling private information while connected to an unsecured network.

You may be eligible for compensation depending on how long you have been without a broadband connection. Ofcom runs an automatic compensation scheme that allows both broadband and landline customers to receive money back during outages. 

The following broadband providers are currently signed up to the scheme:

  • BT
  • EE
  • Hyperoptic 
  • Plusnet
  • Sky
  • NOW Broadband 
  • TalkTalk 
  • Utility Warehouse 
  • Virgin Media 
  • Vodafone 
  • Zen Internet 

Under this Ofcom scheme, customers who have experienced a broadband outage that has not been fully fixed after two working days are entitled to £9.33 for each calendar day that the service has not been repaired. Customers are also eligible for an initial £9.33 payment for the first two days of the outage. 

Customers do not need to contact their provider for compensation; however, they must contact their provider on the first day of the outage. 

If you are partnered with another broadband provider that is not signed up for this compensation scheme, you may be eligible for compensation depending on how long you have been experiencing an internet blackout. That will depend on the individual provider. 

Gemma Ryles

Home Tech Writer

Gemma Ryles is a BJTC and PPA-accredited journalist with three years of experience writing across various publications. As a home tech expert at Independent Advisor, Gemma tests, researches and writes about broadband and home security. 

Previously, Gemma reviewed and curated lists about consumer technology at Trusted Reviews, where she honed her skills in creating buying guides and features to help customers make informed decisions. She has previously worked at Yorkshire Post, BBC Yorkshire, Glitterbeam Radio and Bonus Stage. 

Gemma has a BA in Journalism and in her free time can be found writing short stories, gaming and crocheting. 

Amy Reeves

Editor

Amy is a seasoned writer and editor with a special interest in home design, sustainable technology and green building methods.

She has interviewed hundreds of self-builders, extenders and renovators about their journeys towards individual, well-considered homes, as well as architects and industry experts during her five years working as Assistant Editor at Homebuilding & Renovating, part of Future plc.

Amy’s work covers topics ranging from home, interior and garden design to DIY step-by-steps, planning permission and build costs, and has been published in Period Living, Real Homes, and 25 Beautiful Homes, Homes and Gardens.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Amy manages homes-related content for the site, including solar panels, combi boilers, and windows.

Her passion for saving tired and inefficient homes also extends to her own life; Amy completed a renovation of a mid-century house in 2022 and is about to embark on an energy-efficient overhaul of a 1800s cottage in Somerset.