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Broadband satisfaction revealed
Six in 10 households are now linked up to broadband - but nearly half are not satisfied with the service they receive, an independent price comparison website has said.
Research suggested many recognised providers are losing out to less-established rivals when it comes to speed, value and service.
A survey of more than 12,000 customers, carried out by uSwitch.com, placed AOL Broadband, Orange and BT, which together own 50% of market, in the bottom three spots for overall satisfaction.
But the three top-ranked providers - 02, PlusNet and Sky - held a combined 15% of the market share, according to the survey.
Despite spending £2.6 billion a year, 6.3 million (42%) of customers are not happy with the service they receive, the study suggested.
Steve Weller, of uSwitch.com, said: "It seems that some of the more established broadband companies are slowing down with age and have lost sight of what customers want - speed and reliability, backed up by efficient customer support should things go wrong."
The survey found the average monthly broadband tariff has dropped from £15.27 in 2008 to £14.55 this year, with average speeds rising from 3.6Mb to 4.2Mb in the same period.
But speed and connection quality were more important than cost. "Broadband has become such a vital part of people's lives that, despite the tough economic climate, consumers are willing to pay for a fast-speed, reliable connection and good old-fashioned customer service," said Mr Weller.
A BT spokesman said: "Only last week, BT and Sky were voted joint top for customer service in another broadband survey for Broadband Genie. BT is the country's leading internet service provider and was voted one of the UK's most trusted brands this week in a survey of customers for Reader's Digest.
"USwitch, which is not accredited by Ofcom as a switching site, makes commissions from customers who switch suppliers and it is in their interests to target criticism at companies with the largest customer bases."