Nine in ten people now believe that a broadband connection is essential to their day-to-day life, ranking its importance alongside the likes of housing and food.
A new survey by Which? found that for 90 per cent of people the only things more important than a fast internet connection were housing, food, and utilities such as water and energy.
More people ranked being able to get online as essential to life than having savings (70 per cent) or making pension contributions (53 per cent).
The survey of 2,000 people also found that mobile phones (74 per cent), a television (73 per cent) and a car (68 per cent) were less important to them than their broadband.
Which? said that the importance so many people gave to broadband access made the continuing poor service many people receive all the more worrying.
The survey found that of those questioned two-thirds (68 per cent) had experienced problems with their broadband connection in the last 12 months. The biggest problems were connection dropouts and unexpected slowdowns in speeds for anything from a few minutes to days at a time.
Which? said that such common problems added weight to its calls for the Government to press ahead with its plans for automatic compensation for poor service.
Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home and legal services, said: “This research underlines again just how important broadband is to our everyday lives. Yet many of us are still experiencing persistent service interruptions and a large proportion of the population can’t access usable speeds to carry out the most basic tasks.
“The Government must urgently press ahead with its reforms to give us the faster and more reliable broadband connections we all need.”