Virgin Media has been named the worst internet service provider (ISP) in the UK for outages - out-doing even the much maligned TalkTalk for downtime.

The claim has been made today by Which?, the Consumers' Association, in new research released today. It comes a day after a new scheme from communications regulator Ofcom, obliging companies signed-up to it to automatically compensate customers for downtime

Virgin Media is among the participants, along with BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone, Hyperoptic and Zen Internet.

However, in the Which? research TalkTalk finished runner-up to Virgin Media, with one-in-ten customers being left with no internet connection for long periods, with BT and Sky not far behind.

The organisation's research also found that customers of SSE - the internet service provided by the gas and electricity utility - suffered the worst service, with long waits for engineers to visit to fix faults.

Despite accounting for almost 90 per cent of the market, there remains a high level of dissatisfaction with the 'big four' - BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media.

Sky and TalkTalk are the lowest ranked ISPs in the Which? broadband satisfaction ratings, BT has been panned for poor customer service, while Virgin Media customers complain of regular-as-clockwork price rises.

Ofcom first raised the prospect of automatic compensation in March 2017 with a statement setting out its conclusion that "there is a need for an automatic compensation scheme to protect residential consumers who suffer from certain service quality failures with their landline and/or broadband services".

Days later, it added that the scheme would mean that up to 2.6 million customers would receive compensation of up to 185 million - an incentive for ISPs to improve service and reliability.

The money back scheme was finally introduced yesterday. In addition to the seven companies that have signed up to it from day one, BT-owned EE has indicated that it will join next year, while Ofcom claims that Plusnet, also owned by BT, is "committed to the scheme".