BT has been rated as top consumer broadband provider. The telecoms provider outscored Virgin, Demon, AOL and Orange. Cable providers were not assessed for the survey.

The research was conducted by customer experience management company Epitiro, which monitored the ADSL companies from ten key geographic locations around the UK from April to June 2006.

However, BT did not gather top marks for its overall performance according to a different survey from the Customer Respect Group. In this case, the research organisation found that cellular company O2 scored the highest marks for its overall performance. Companies were assessed on categories such as website usability, communication with online customers, and trust.

Epitiro said its software emulated an Internet user’s activity and gathers a range of detailed statistics including connection speed, reliability, performance and email delivery for independent analyses.

The top five consumer ISP services were ranked according to their Epitiro Consumer ADSL Internet Performance Index (IPI) Score. These were: BT at 2.78, Virgin at 4.79, Demon at 5.00, AOL at 5.22, and Orange at 5.23, respectively. The best performer in every category would have a performance score of 1.

"In terms of Internet performance, BT topped the overall rankings for the period April to June 2006. BT was also found to provide the fastest service as a percentage of its theoretical maximum," said Gavin Johns, managing director of Epitiro.

The leading consumer ADSL services experienced 12,503 instances of connection failure from 948,411 attempts over the Q2 period - an average industry connection failure of 1.93 percent, said the survey report.

The Customer Respect Group found that, despite the US's emphasis on customer service, the UK telecom providers and ISPs out-performed its American counterparts scoring 6.3 in its customer respect index, beating the US average score of 5.7.

Trust was the area of biggest concern for UK telecommunications websites. The industry scored just 4.9 out of 10 for trust, well below the overall industry average of 5.7. For example, just four of the 14 companies used personal data supplied solely for the purpose for which it is provided.

70 percent routinely reused information for ongoing marketing without explicit permission.

The study found that UK companies were generally less clear about policies pertaining to privacy than their US and Canadian counterparts.

Terry Golesworthy, president of The Customer Respect Group, said: “The UK telecommunications companies have paid attention to broad site usability, and it is refreshing to see online communications and email taken seriously as vital to customer acquisition and retention.”

However, Golesworthy pointed out that owing to the increased amount of information and choices now available to the customers, industry members should pay more attention to their privacy concerns.

The complete telecommunications scorecard is available after registering online at the Customer Respect Group website here.