Broadband outages: what should you do when your internet is not working?

Broadband not working internet is gone

Does your broadband constantly drop when you’re in the middle of something important? Find out what you can do to avoid internet issues… again.

We all know how frustrating it can be when you’re in an important meeting and your internet suddenly decides to stop working. 

This frustration was felt by approximately 13,000 users across the UK on Tuesday evening when Sky broadband was down and faced a widespread outage. The most severely affected areas were London and Birmingham, where the internet blackout lasted nearly three hours.  

When faced with such broadband outages, a lot of questions come up. What do you do when your broadband is down? How long before your connection is restored? Should you switch to a better broadband deal

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about why your internet is down, how to check if there is an internet outage in the area and what you can do to fix it. 

Young woman using the laptop but it is not working as there is a broadband outage

Why is my internet not working?

There can be several factors that affect your broadband speed. The most common reason is a problem with your router or modem. Sometimes, your physical proximity to the router can affect signal strength. 

Other factors that can result in your internet being slow are bad weather conditions, hacking or network problems. 

What is a broadband outage?

A broadband outage happens when your internet connection drops and you can’t use it anymore. 

It’s often caused by an issue with your internet service provider’s internal system. Or it could be between the provider’s broadband exchange and the cabinet on your street. 

Another reason for this could be due to your electronic device and how long it takes to upload data and transfer it. 

Sometimes, it can also be due to high internet traffic in the area, especially if there are lots of people using the internet at the same time. This is more likely to happen at peak times when concert tickets are released or when there’s a big football match on, etc. 

How long do internet outages last?

Most often, outages are dealt with pretty quickly and your internet will be back to normal as soon as possible. 

However, outages are not always confined to your household, and in many cases, can stretch to your neighbourhood as well. In such circumstances, customers across the country can face broadband outages for hours or even days. 

According to Uswitch, over 21 million customers experienced broadband outages of three hours or more between 2022 and 2023. 

But this varies by location. For example, this year, residents in Southampton lost out on around 63 hours online, while those in Nottingham missed out on around 33. 

How long your internet is down will depend on when your network provider processes the data and returns to normal operation. This usually happens when too many people are using the internet in the same area at the same time. 

No internet on smartphone or laptop, broadband not working

How to check if the internet is down in your area

If your internet suddenly stops working, it’s a good idea to check if other users in your area are facing a similar issue. That way, if other people are dealing with an internet outage too, you’ll know that there isn’t something wrong with your router or solely confined to your household. 

The best way to check if the internet is down in your area is by searching your broadband provider on Down Detector. Type in your internet provider and what kind of issue you are facing and you’ll see reports of similar internet issues in the past 24 hours in your area. 

Down Detector has a dedicated page for all UK providers. It also covers popular social media apps like Facebook or Instagram, so you can see if those sites are not working too. 

What to do when your broadband goes down

You might be facing an issue with your home broadband equipment, so first have a look at your router connections and power source. 

Check your device to make sure that it is connected to Wi-Fi. Sometimes just switching your equipment can solve the problem. 

Troubleshoot your internet connection problems and do a reboot if you need to. Also, make sure the router is properly plugged into the phone socket. 

Another important thing you need to is check if there is a broadband outage.

What to do if Sky Broadband is down

Sky broadband internet not working displayed on phone and laptop screens are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on January 30, 2023. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

How to get help for Sky Broadband online

In general, Sky recommends using its online resource hub as a first step to solve any issues you may have. It has a detailed broadband help page where you can seek help for issues related to your speed and equipment. You can also speak to a chatbot or read up articles and guides to diagnose and fix common internet issues. 

Before you look any further, we also recommend you have a look at Sky’s Service Status for any planned outages or problems in your area. 

If you want to speak to other customers who are facing similar issues, join the Sky Community to get advice from experts and other users about your Sky products. 

To get faster and more personalised support, you can sign in with your Sky iD to test your connection or run a network check by entering your Sky Talk landline number

To fix any Sky Broadband issues at home, Sky recommends using its diagnostic tool as a quick way to find out why your Sky broadband is not working. 

How to get help for Sky Broadband on the app

You can also download the My Sky app on the App Store or Google Play. You can easily manage your account and get 24/7 support on the Sky app’s messaging service. 

How to contact Sky Broadband provider

To contact Sky Broadband directly, you can call on 03337592826. Opening times vary. You can also email a Sky expert or drop them a message. For messaging, its opening hours are Monday to Sunday from 8:30 am to 19:30 pm. 

If you don’t mind the wait, you can send them a letter by post to this address: Customer Complaints, Sky Subscriber Services Ltd, PO Box 43, Livingston, EH54 7DD.

Sky Broadband compensation schemes

You will receive compensation from Sky Broadband under certain conditions: if your service isn’t fixed in two working days, if an engineer misses your appointment or if there’s a delay in starting your new service. Under this automatic compensation scheme, all your money will be credited to your Sky account or refunded to your card. 

How to cancel Sky Broadband early

You will have to pay an early exit fee if you are still in contract with Sky Broadband and want to leave. 

The amount you’ll have to pay depends on many factors. These include days left on your minimum term contract, the days you have been billed for, and any additional subscriptions like Sky TV. Check the approximate termination charges.

It’s worth noting that Sky Broadband offers a 31-day cooling-off period, which is more generous than most providers. This allows you to cancel your contract within those 31 days without any exit fees. 

However, if you cancel your broadband after that, you need to give Sky a notice period of 14 days. You must also return any equipment provided by Sky. 

For anyone who is out of contract, you can switch penalty-free. 

What to do if Virgin Media Broadband is down

Virgin Media broadband down internet not working on red smartphone

How to get help for Virgin Media Broadband online

Virgin Media has a help and support page where you can find support for everything from setting up the Hub to fixing any internet problems. All you need to do is pick the category for which you want help and then follow the step-by-step instructions. 

If your Virgin internt is down or speed is slow, you can check your connection. If it persists, you can book technical support or a new Wi-Fi hub. You can also speak to any of Virgin Media customer service team members.

How to get help for Virgin Media Broadband on the app

You can also download the Virgin Media app on the App Store or Google Play. It allows you to check your service status, read how-go guides and access their customer community. They also have a chat service where you can speak to their agents. 

How to contact Virgin Media Broadband provider

You can speak to Virgin Media customer services for any broadband-related issues by dialling 150 from your Virgin Landline or calling 0345 454 1111 from your mobile. You can also raise an issue via their web chat, web form or by dropping them an email. 

Its opening hours are 8 am to 9 pm from Monday to Friday and 8 am to 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday. 

If you want to make a complaint via post, you can send it to this address: Virgin Media, Sunderland, SR43 4AA. Virgin Media promises to acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 48 hours and resolve your issues within 28 days.

Virgin Media Broadband compensation schemes

You may be eligible for Virgin Media’s Automatic Compensation Scheme. This is if your service isn’t fixed in two working days, if installation is delayed, or if engineers don’t turn up on appointments. 

Remember, this doesn’t include appointments where you don’t need to be home. You must also report your complaint, which is known as a ‘loss of service’ to receive compensation. 

How to cancel Virgin Media Broadband early

Unfortunately, you will have to pay an exit fee to leave Virgin Media before your contract is up, which can be a bit expensive. 

Virgin Media calculates its broadband exit fees based on the services you have, how much you pay for them and how much time you have remaining on your minimum-term contract. 

All this adds up to a lump sum amount that could be off-putting if you’re considering leaving your Virgin Media broadband contract early. 

You can cancel your Virgin Media Broadband services by phone, online chat, or by post.  

For anyone who is out of contract, you can switch penalty-free. 

What to do if BT Broadband isn’t working

BT Broadband logo on purple background broadband not working internet down UK

How to get help for BT broadband online

BT Broadband recommends using the broadband troubleshooter if you’re facing any problems. If you’re still having issues, BT will send a Home Tech Expert to resolve the issue in a two-hour slot at no extra cost. 

You can also speak to the BT Broadband community if you want advice from customers and experts.

How to get help for BT broadband on the app

You can also download the BT broadband app on the App Store or Google Play. On the app, you can check your broadband speed, track your services, and get in touch with the BT customer service team. 

How to contact BT broadband provider

You can speak to BT for any broadband-related issues by texting HELP followed by your landline number to 61998. After running tests on your connection, they will decide if you need an engineer. This will be done in about 15 minutes and you will instantly be booked in. 

If you don’t require an appointment, you will receive a call from the BT customer service team within 30 minutes. 

Alternatively you can call on 150 from BT mobile or on 03301234150. 

Its opening hours are 8 am to 9 pm from Monday to Friday and 8 am to 8 pm on weekends and bank holidays. 

If you want to make a complaint via post, you can send it to this address: BT plc PO Box 334, Sheffield S98 1BT. BT aims to respond to all complaints within 28 days. 

BT broadband compensation schemes

You can claim BT broadband compensation if your service isn’t fixed on time, if your installation takes longer than expected, or if engineers miss their appointments. 

To make a BT broadband compensation claim, you need to call BT on 0800800154 and lines are open 24/7. Remember that you need to wait for 24 hours before making your compensation claim and do it before 90 days. 

How to cancel BT broadband early

You will have to pay an early termination fee if you cancel your BT broadband service before the end of your minimum contract period. This is usually 12, 18 or 24 months from your start date. You can cancel your services by phone. 

For anyone who is out of contract, you can switch penalty-free. 

What to do if Vodafone Broadband isn’t working

British Vodafone Broadband logo on a phone broadband not working internet down

How to get help for Vodafone Broadband online

To get your Vodafone broadband up and running, first log in to your Vodafone account. You can then use its Broadband Service Test or have a look at its video guides. 

If you still face an issue such as slow speed or a drop in connection, you can go to the Vodafone broadband help page to seek further help.

Vodafone’s Home Broadband and landline community is a really useful place if you want to speak to other customers about your broadband issues and seek mutual help.

How to get help for Vodafone Broadband on the app

You can download the Vodafone Broadband app on the App Store or Google Play. Vodafone has a digital assistant TOBi who will connect you to a Vodafone team member if you need any help. 

How to contact Vodafone Broadband provider

To speak to a Vodafone adviser, you can use your Vodafone mobile to call 191 for free. Alternatively, you can call on 03333040191. Lines are open from Monday to Friday 8 am to 10 pm, and the weekend from 8 am to 8 pm. 

You can also make a complaint by filling in their form, chatting online or via post at this address: Customer Relations Manager, Vodafone Limited, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 2FN.

Vodafone Broadband compensation schemes

Vodafone will automatically refund you under its Automatic Compensation Scheme. This is if your service is delayed for more than two days or not activated in time. You can also claim this if an engineer misses an appointment. 

Vodafone’s compensation pay is for up to 60 days and you are entitled to the right to leave with no early exit fee within the first 30 days.

How to cancel Vodafone Broadband early

If you cancel your Vodafone Broadband plan before the end of your contract, you will have to pay an early termination fee. You will receive this within 22 days of leaving Vodafone. To get an exact quote, you can call Vodafone Broadband on 03333040191 and see how your termination fee is calculated

Remember that Vodafone will ask you to return any equipment like your router or other accessories or you may face a fine. 

For anyone who is out of contract, you can switch penalty-free. 

Internet connection with the router via ethernet cables broadband not working internet down

Replace an old router

If you’ve been with your broadband provider for a long time, chances are that your router has become old and isn’t working as well. The longer you use it, the less powerful it will be as compared to the newer ones. 

If you are experiencing connection issues because of your router, simply contact your provider and ask them to replace it for you. Make sure you don’t get put on a new contract or have to pay for a new one. 

However, if this does happen, you can easily switch to a new broadband provider if you’re out of contract and get a new router for free. 

Have a backup plan

If you’re worried about losing broadband due to damage to the network or any other internet provider issues, it’s best to have a backup plan in hand. That way, you can continue working, streaming online or chatting. 

The best way to do this would be to use your mobile data to create a hotspot. Go to Settings and select the Network/internet option. Then choose the Tethering option and tap Mobile hotspot and turn it on. Find your phone on the list of Wi-Fi connections and select it. 

However, this might end up using a lot of mobile data, so make sure you have enough to get through the outage. Paying for additional data can be expensive, so we recommend exploring our best SIM only deals for cost-friendly options.

Alternatively, if you are waiting for your broadband to be restored, consider going out for some outdoor activities. Run errands, have a delicious meal, or visit the cinema for a film you’ve been meaning to watch. 

Is it time to change providers?

Finally, if you’re unhappy with your broadband and think it’s on its last legs, you might want to switch your broadband provider. It’s easy to switch, especially if you haven’t done it for a while and your contract is running out. This way, you can avoid the penalty charge or that awkward conversation with your existing provider. 

Since broadband prices have shot up, we’ve curated a list of the best broadband deals for this month. You can also do a broadband comparison

Once you’ve found the best broadband package for you, your new broadband provider will sort everything on your behalf, including cancelling your existing broadband contract.