If you’re experiencing problems with your broadband, many of us will turn to online checking tools. Such tools are often provided by our ISPs to let us know if it’s a general fault our area or specific to our line. These tools are normally great – unless you don’t have a landline phone number to enter into the checker because you’re on a broadband-only connection.
So what do these customers do?
Checking for broadband faults: what’s the problem?
More and more people are dispensing with landline phones. In fact, the current copper network is in the process of being retired, with Openreach actively pushing out its fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) replacement. For those still wanting a landline, they will be offered internet-based telephony (or IP solutions).
So, in this case, how do we perform broadband fault checks? The phone number is used to identify the customer’s location and our mobile numbers aren’t tied to this, so they won’t work.
Many ISPs only make these checks available if you have an account with them, but I was able to find three broadband providers where fault checkers were publicly accessible, just to see what they do in this scenario.
The biggest ISP in the UK is BT.
- Part of their broadband offering if Full Fibre, their FTTP option
- Their Service Status Checker website insists on a full length landline phone number to be able to perform any checks
Zen may not be as popular but they regularly win awards for the quality of their service.
- Zen provide FTTP via their Ultrafast Broadband offering
- They offer 2 different checking options, depending on whether you want to check the status for all of the equipment that they’re in control of or anything that’s out of their hands – i.e. the network provided by OpenReach. This is slightly awkward as most people are unlikely to know where a fauly is, so they’re forcing customers to make 2 separate checks
- The latter one – Broadband Status – requires a phone number. But, unlike BT, you only need to provide an area code
- For checking the Zen part of your network, they have a Service Alerts page. This requires phone number as they simply list out all known faults. Which sounds great until you realise you have to search through it all looking for anything that may apply to you
After BT, the next biggest ISP is Sky Broadband, so let’s finish off our checking with them.
- Sky provide FTTP via their Ultrafast broadband package.
- Their Help for Sky Broadband page only allows you to look up your status with your full landline phone number.
Checking your broadband status: what can we conclude?
I’ve only checked 3 IPS here but, combined, they have an estimated customer base of nearly 16 million subscribers, representing around 56% of the market. Only one has the tools for a customer to check the status of their broadband connection and even that is lazily done. The 2 biggest ISPs in the UK won’t allow you to do this check.
When I spoke to BT about this, they said…
At the moment that facility is not available. Our R&D team are looking into ways that our broadband only customers can access this service. Hopefully they will resolve this soon.
The move away from landlines has not suddenly happened, nor has the planned move from copper – it has been known for years, yet ISPs appear to have not made the requisite changes needed for their customer base. At the same time they are happy to sell you a broadband package without a phone number. They really need to be doing better.