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UK ISPs quizzed over advertised broadband speeds

UK ISPs quizzed over advertised broadband speeds

Ofcom has stepped into the ring to clear up the state of UK broadband Internet. Let's hope it gets better for us all...

Top brass at six of the UK’s top broadband Internet providers have been asked by Ofcom’s Consumer Panel to justify why customers don’t get the speeds that are advertised.

This appears to be a follow-up to Which?’s investigation that led to a complaint on the sorry state of affairs being filed with Ofcom, the UK’s telecommunications regulator.

We believe that broadband customers are not at the moment getting enough information,” Colette Bowe, chairwoman of the Ofcom Consumer Panel told BBC News.

While recognising that there are technical reasons why consumers don’t receive the advertised speeds, Bowe asked broadband providers to find ways to deal with the technical issues to give consumers more information on the speeds they can likely expect in their area.

Ofcom’s letter also requested that ISPs allow customers to test connection speeds for a longer period without having to sign a contract, along with giving customers the option of terminating a contract if speeds are well below what is advertised.

Having suffered inexcusably shoddy netspeed from at least one broadband Internet service provider in the past (and, despite providing sufficient evidence to the contrary, being told that the issue is clearly at my end ), I would certainly welcome the final point with open arms.

Broadband Internet has improved vastly in the UK, but it’s still by no means where it should be – let’s hope that Ofcom’s involvement will clear the slate and result in a better quality of service for all of us in the UK.

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37 Comments

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will. 10th October 2007, 13:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by the article
Ofcom's letter also requested that ISPs allow customers to test connection speeds for a longer period without having to sign a contract, along with giving customers the option of terminating a contract if speeds are well below what is advertised.

Damn right!

Virgin have succeeded in supplying us with 'up to 8 meg broadband' that goes at a blistering 100kb/s.
DougEdey 10th October 2007, 13:18 Quote
It's BT's fault, not the ISP, even under LLU.
cjoyce1980 10th October 2007, 13:26 Quote
i want the virgin 50M/b broadband, currently you can get the virgin 20M/b service for the same price as BT's 8M/b

GET WITH THE PROGRAM BT!!!! I wanna be a rocketman!!!
Marci 10th October 2007, 13:30 Quote
Quote:
It's BT's fault, not the ISP, even under LLU.

Er... nope! Not the case for ex-cable customers who are now Virgin customers but still operate via Cable-Broadband. The fault there clearly lies with Virgin, and in all honesty, since they took over the reliability of cable connections has seriously come under fire. Been reduced from 98% uptime in Telewest's hands down to 65% uptime in Virgin's hands, yet in theory it was all just a change in administration, not a change in the physical network.
Darv 10th October 2007, 13:37 Quote
I've used ntl for years now. Got it back when the highest you could get was 512kb and it's had really good speed the whole time. There was a time when it would disconnect all the time. Turned out the modem was faulty.

Anyway for most people it is that BT's network can't handle the speeds people want. If BT sorted out there network then there wouldn't be a problem.

I don't think the ISP could give you an average figure because the nature of broadband means the speed will always be different. I do however like the idea of an extended period to allow you to cancel your contract if it's not up to scratch!
mclean007 10th October 2007, 14:15 Quote
Why oh why is BT not rolling out fibre to the home yet? The UK is one of the richest nations in the World and has a relatively high population density, so it should be economical at least in urban areas, yet BT persists in patching and re-patching a communications system that relies fundamentally on a network that started to be laid down more than a century ago. We're in serious danger of being left behind - generally the UK is regarded as an entrepreneurial place with a long and illustrious history of innovation, but without the bandwidth to develop new and exciting applications for broadband, that innovation (and the associated investment) will pass us by. If BT won't do it (presumably because they can't justify it commercially), then the government should underwrite the installation cost of this infrastructure and then float it to recoup the investment.
xrob 10th October 2007, 14:23 Quote
bt wont do ftth for years and years, but its what they should be doing, they must have made billions and billions from adsl
Marci 10th October 2007, 14:28 Quote
Quote:
Why oh why is BT not rolling out fibre to the home yet?
Quote:
So-called fibre to the kerb would offer speeds of up to 50Mbps and cost up to £10bn to roll out nationwide, experts predict.

Fibre to the home is more expensive - with an estimated £15bn price tag - but offers speeds of up to 100Mbps.
Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/nolpda/ifs_news/hi/newsid_7013000/7013022.stm?ifs=1

If BT still held the monopoly on UK Telecomms, then yep, I guess they'd have it rolled out by now... As far as I was aware, BT leased their use of the fibre backbone from Fibrenet (???)
mclean007 10th October 2007, 14:29 Quote
Coincidentally, BBC online ran a piece on FTTH FIVE YEARS ago to the day, stating that the UK risked being left behind, and still no progress has been made.

Link - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/2313239.stm
[USRF]Obiwan 10th October 2007, 14:29 Quote
Over here in the Netherlands:
20mbit dl / 100kbit up adsl2 for 22 euro p.m. (unlim. data transfers.)
I even can get 100mbit/100mbit up via fiberoptic wire (although costly: around 99 euro p.m)

The most (internet) consumer unfriendly country is Belgium, where there is not only a very monoplic provider agreements (but thats officialy not true). but.... the other problem is; you may only download 1gb p.m. or else pay 30 eurocent per megabyte extra! Or pay a lot more for exta gigabyte fup (fair user policy) upgrades for lots of cash.
Buzzons 10th October 2007, 14:29 Quote
BT are doing the 21CN upgrade at the moment ( http://www.btplc.com/21CN/ ) Due for completion 2012. After this has been finished, new builds will get Fiber to the home (FTTH) and old builds will get ADSL2+ (upto 24Mbit)

Also, you can never actually get 8MBit, the highest you can get is 7.25MBit iirc (with overheads etc)

see here for a good explanation :: http://aaisp.net.uk/aa/aaisp/maxatm.html
mclean007 10th October 2007, 14:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marci
Quote:
Why oh why is BT not rolling out fibre to the home yet?
Quote:
So-called fibre to the kerb would offer speeds of up to 50Mbps and cost up to £10bn to roll out nationwide, experts predict.

Fibre to the home is more expensive - with an estimated £15bn price tag - but offers speeds of up to 100Mbps.
Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/nolpda/ifs_news/hi/newsid_7013000/7013022.stm?ifs=1

Sounds like a bargain to me. If I were in government I'd push the button on that £15bn investment in a heartbeat. That is, what, £250 per UK resident or about £1,000 per connected household (based on 15m households - http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=8) for a state of the art network that will last decades. After it is built, the maintenance cost of fibre is pretty low and the capital cost is definitely a worthwhile investment IMHO, and could be recouped either over a long term by ongoing operational revenues or, more likely, in the short term by a stock market flotation.
cyrilthefish 10th October 2007, 14:42 Quote
Personally i think the issue isn't the exact broadband speeds. As dial-up was advertised for years as 'up to 56k speeds' despite it being physically impossible to go that fast outside of short distance test lab conditions, this is no different to the 'up to 8meg speed' services, except for the fact the speeds seem to drop off a lot quicker with distance than dial-up used to.

In my mind the crippling bandwidth limits / bandwidth throttling is the real issue, especially as the web is going more content heavy (think youtube and so on)

my 4meg cable broadband service used to be brilliant, with Virgin taking over instead of the 4096/384 i used to get, i now get crippled to 2048/192 almost every single day unless we only use the connection for light web-browsing.
I think i'm going to have to upgrade just to get a workable connection :(
mclean007 10th October 2007, 14:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buzzons
BT are doing the 21CN upgrade at the moment ( http://www.btplc.com/21CN/ ) Due for completion 2012. After this has been finished, new builds will get Fiber to the home (FTTH) and old builds will get ADSL2+ (upto 24Mbit)
It's a step in the right direction, but 2012 is five years from now and ten years from the article I linked, and even then only new builds will get it. We should have a working FTTH network NOW, with all streets having fibre to the kerb and all new builds having fibre to the home piped in alongside (or instead of) the copper connection and the option for existing homes to have it installed for a reasonable fee.
samkiller42 10th October 2007, 15:09 Quote
While i was in France in July, in the middle of nowear to be honest, i was held up in traffic as they were laying fibre optic lines in the road, which was for the broadband. I think it is about time that the government and BT installed a new internet system accross the country, but we all know what that would mean, higher tax as its us that would have to pay for it.

Sam
LeMaltor 10th October 2007, 15:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by will.
Damn right!

Virgin have succeeded in supplying us with 'up to 8 meg broadband' that goes at a blistering 100kb/s.

I manage a rocking 112 sometimes :'( It is always on though, so no complaints about that
Blademrk 10th October 2007, 15:43 Quote
We already have 21C network here (BT upgraded us in July), haven't noticed any benefits yet...
As far as I can make out, all it's done is move the voice telecommunications from a PSTN connection to an IP based one.
ellism 10th October 2007, 15:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMaltor
Quote:
Originally Posted by will.
Damn right!

Virgin have succeeded in supplying us with 'up to 8 meg broadband' that goes at a blistering 100kb/s.

I manage a rocking 112 sometimes :'( It is always on though, so no complaints about that

I recently joined virgin and their shaping is awful. In the evenings I am getting 40kbs downloads over http. I do use my net quite a bit, but thats what i am paying for an uncapped connection for, but i wouldn't call myself a heavy user, I don't have torrent running 12 hours a day or anything. Its not like they can blame it on my connection, started a download this morning and was getting 400kbs.
chrisb2e9 10th October 2007, 15:56 Quote
To be honest I have never had a problem getting the advertised speeds anywhere that I have lived in Canada. My only complaint is that the broadband just isn't that fast. but at least they are honest about it.
With one small exception, I used to work for the phone company back in Nova Scotia, and we provided highspeed through dsl. In Halifax there are a few apartment buildings (newer ones) that are supposed to be prewired to have 10mbit Internet. The way it works is that in the apartment there is a router which has cables running through the walls leading to each room and you just plug your pc straight into the jack in the wall. So the customer did not need to have a dsl modem plugged in, in their apartment.
So one day I was at my friends place who happened to live in one of these buildings and I asked him why he had a modem. Turned out he was only getting 3mbit not the 10 that he was paying for. So I went to work and fired off an e-mail to one of the support girls and asked her if she could look into it for me.
She agreed that he was supposed to get the 10mbit (it was documented company information that was easy to look up(if you worked for the company(and had access))).
Nothing happened for a while so I sent another e-mail. Got an answer back that they had been busy but would get on it right away.
To make a very long story short, some manager ended up telling me that we have never offered 10mbit Internet anywhere and we have no plans to do so for a long time. She also went so far as to say that the buildings are not pre-wired for the 10mbit and there were never any plans to do so.
which is odd because we opened up the electrical panel in his apartment and found the router and the plugs are present in each room. Not to mention the documentation that clearly states that if a customer lives in one of these buildings that they do not need a modem to access the internet. Also not to mention that the landlords tell the tenants that the buildings are pre-wired for the 10mbit.
Even better are the employees who I knew back then who admitted that they do have 10mbit internet (without living in a pre-wired building) because their Internet is connected to a central office which has been upgraded to support higher speeds.

I'm so glad I don't work there anymore, I have been responsible for so many of their customers leaving and going to the competition, where they do advertise 10mbit (through cable) and you do actually get that speed (even during busy times)

There, that's my rant for the day.
yakyb 10th October 2007, 16:40 Quote
damn straight

i get 2MB here and i pay for 8 but will be moving house shortly to somewhere only 100m away from the local exchange if i dont get at least 6 there ill be pissed
Tim S 10th October 2007, 17:41 Quote
BT actually proposed to roll out fibre (or was it high-speed cable?) in the 80s, IIRC and the government rejected it. We're still running age-old copper... :(
mclean007 10th October 2007, 17:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by samkiller42
While i was in France in July, in the middle of nowear to be honest, i was held up in traffic as they were laying fibre optic lines in the road, which was for the broadband. I think it is about time that the government and BT installed a new internet system accross the country, but we all know what that would mean, higher tax as its us that would have to pay for it.

Sam
Obviously these things have to be paid for, but the government could finance it with debt and recoup by selling the finished product to e.g. BT, or could service the debt using the revenues generated by the new network, which would be substantial. Of course, they should start with highly populated urban areas first, then use the revenues from existing parts of the network to finance a rolling expansion to farther flung parts of this fair nation.

In any event, I'd happily see some of my tax go towards this, rather than to finance the war in Iraq, endless rearrangement of the deckchairs on the Titanic, and the employment of yet more bureaucrats, administrators, health and safety zealots, purveyors of reams of useless regulations and statistic, and general busybodies
mclean007 10th October 2007, 18:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S
BT actually proposed to roll out fibre (or was it high-speed cable?) in the 80s, IIRC and the government rejected it. We're still running age-old copper... :(
Makes sense - what use was there, really, for high bandwidth data connectivity to the home in the 80s? The only thing in those days that would soak up the kind of bandwidth that requires fibre would be telephone switchboards in large offices. Now, however, we could really use a fibre network and it is irritating that BT is rolling out 21CN on the back of copper.
Tim S 10th October 2007, 18:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007
Makes sense - what use was there, really, for high bandwidth data connectivity to the home in the 80s? The only thing in those days that would soak up the kind of bandwidth that requires fibre would be telephone switchboards in large offices. Now, however, we could really use a fibre network and it is irritating that BT is rolling out 21CN on the back of copper.

Well the plan was focused around "the future" of internet service in people's homes, which BT rightly predicted was broadband. Obviously, the technology has only recently become available here, but there's a good reason why the Swedes, Japanese and whatnot are miles ahead of the UK when it comes to broadband. They invested in infrastructure early on.
Cinnander 10th October 2007, 18:59 Quote
4mbit via virgin here and I'm lucky if I can get 120k/s down.
During the evenings when the GP comes online to check their internets it slows to a crawl.... as in it takes 2 minutes to go from clicking my bittech bookmark, and having everything loaded. TWO MINUTES. That's with pipelining, too.
Gunsmith 10th October 2007, 21:17 Quote
im on virgins 20mb service and thier 3gig at peak times 4pm - 12am or face a 75% throttle for £38 is insulting.

im on the virge of flipping over to BE but first im going to have a chat with the director of customer services at virgin. 6 years with blue yonder only to have virgin take over and pull this **** is not on.
Almightyrastus 10th October 2007, 21:18 Quote
I have 8Mbit BT and am about 1/2 mile form the exchange so I don't expect to be hitting that speed all the time. I occasionally get it but more often than not it is a fair bit lower. The other big problem is that I am finding that with a few sites I am obviously being throttled by their upload speed rather than my available download speed.

Oh and don't even get me started on the Home Hub...........
leexgx 10th October 2007, 21:39 Quote
probly your pc is slow (Vista with 512mb/1gb ram with norton or macfee installed maybe ?) or you got an problem with your cable modem,
make sure you getting broadband from an Cable modem, Not from the TV for broadband as it sucks alot if so get NTL/Virgin to send some one out to fit an cable modem for your broadband

or it May be you have got 1mb bb when you think you got 4mb or may be paying for 4mb Most Cable TV boxs only give 1/2mb bb

cables network is fully fiber untill it gets to the green boxs but even then its down thick cables i get full speed when the web site can give me full spead as you got to rember your connection can some times be faster then what the web site can give it out at

with BT (just about evey provider ) its hit and miss what adsl speed you get and if there is an problem thay tend to blame your pc find it faster to just change provider
Kipman725 10th October 2007, 22:17 Quote
my problem is not of speed, almost all the time I get full speed but that tisacli mess around with bit torrent packets whish I would like to use to lower sever load on large files like linux distros and NOT ilegal files due to massive lack of anonominity with bit torrent.
popcornuk 11th October 2007, 02:42 Quote
Well for me, someone who works for a bb company (I work for an ADSL provider). I have to agree with the state of bb in the UK. I mean ok, the cable companies will give you the speed they advertise. I currently have the virginmedia 20Mb bb package. But what they fail to tell you half the time (and by no means is it shown when your looking at the website) is that fair enough they will give you 20Mb. But if you download more than 3Gb per day then your connection is capped for the rest of the day! Ok so you get unlimited DL but whats the point if it's crawling along at 1Mb when you are supposed to get 20Mb!!

And as for the ADSL providers!! Jesus!! Honestly some of the customers are sold a MAX package which promises an "up to 8Mb speed", and the sales staff know fine well that the customer will not get those speeds (it only takes a few seconds to check what the maximum speeds a line can handle). Then after that a customer will phone up saying that "hey i'm only getting 40Kb a second", and I'll say "Well sir you'll be lucky if your line can handle a 1Mb speed". Then they go onto say that "Well I was promised that I would receive 8Mb no questions asked!"

It is really shocking the way some bb customers are treated. Hopefully with the 21CN rollout these problems will slowly go away! :(
BUFF 11th October 2007, 06:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by popcornuk
I mean ok, the cable companies will give you the speed they advertise. I currently have the virginmedia 20Mb bb package. But what they fail to tell you half the time (and by no means is it shown when your looking at the website) is that fair enough they will give you 20Mb. But if you download more than 3Gb per day then your connection is capped for the rest of the day! Ok so you get unlimited DL but whats the point if it's crawling along at 1Mb when you are supposed to get 20Mb!!
It is there if you look http://allyours.virginmedia.com/html/internet/traffic.html & you shouldn't get throttled from 20Mb to 1Mb but 5Mb.
Personally I don't know what you lot do that means that you use 3Gb every day but hey ...

Gunsmith, if you are still paying £38 for 20Mb BB only 'phone up retentions - I pay that for XL BB, XL TV & 'phone.
DougEdey 11th October 2007, 07:40 Quote
That 3GB limit isn't all day, it's just between 4pm and midnight. I don't find it an isse, most of my downloading happens in the morning. And I'm only paying £29 a month.
nitrous9200 11th October 2007, 21:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [USRF
Obiwan]Over here in the Netherlands:
I even can get 100mbit/100mbit up via fiberoptic wire (although costly: around 99 euro p.m)
Verizon only offers 50mbps up and 5mbps down through FiOS for $90 a month (google says about 63 euros). We must be way behind!
airchie 14th October 2007, 23:59 Quote
I must admit I'm starting to get pissed with all this traffic throttling etc.
I don't mind traffic prioritisation going to things like game and voip traffic but if I want to download something (legal or not) with the 'unlimited' connection I pay for, I want to do it when I please at a decent speed.
I HATE it when I can't download a patch for a game cos I'm throttled to some pishy 40kb/s.
That's not what I'm paying the extra for an unlimited account for!!! /rant
Legendmir 27th February 2008, 08:36 Quote
i paid or an up to 8mb with virgin, £18/month and was only getting 0.7mb download speeds. i phoned them up and asked to cancel my contract and they then offered to put me on an IP Stream (whatever that is) which should guarantee me a 2mb connection and they lowered my price to 15/month. im still getting around 0.7mb download speed but i can now play online games which is good enough for me.
skpstr 27th February 2008, 14:13 Quote
Fibre to the Home is a pipedream, the best we can hope for is Fibre to the Cabinet.
[USRF]Obiwan 27th February 2008, 16:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Legendmir
i paid or an up to 8mb with virgin, £18/month and was only getting 0.7mb download speeds. i phoned them up and asked to cancel my contract and they then offered to put me on an IP Stream (whatever that is) which should guarantee me a 2mb connection and they lowered my price to 15/month. im still getting around 0.7mb download speed but i can now play online games which is good enough for me.

If you have ADSL the connection speed depends on how far you are from the line distribution-central in your neighboorhood. If you are 10meter to 1km away from the central then 8mbit is a highly possible speed indication. If you are 10km away the signal is to weak to give you full 8mbit range.
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