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back to article Giants carve up broadband punters

Rapid consolidation in the UK broadband market means it's now dominated by just six operators, who divvy up 94 per cent of home internet users between them. Analyst house Point Topic's superleague comprises BT, Virgin Media, Carphone Warehouse, Tiscali, Orange, and Sky. Ofcom's attempt to increase competition with the creation …

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IT Angle

and are any of them any good?

What a line-up, not one amongst them inspires any sort of confidence in level of service nor from a customer care perspective. Having direct personal experience of Orange and Virgin Media I wouldn't recommend them to a 419er from Nigeria, let alone anyone in the UK.

Why is it that these organisations are happy to pump money into their marketing operations whilst failing time and again to invest in their networks, equipment and UK customer service teams?

Oh no, wait a second, it's because that makes them money by pulling in more poor saps as subscribers whilst reducing the operational costs. D'Oh!

Cynical, moi? surely not....

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Ian
Dead Vulture

RE: are any of them any good?

I've had personal experience with the following and they all stink too

Virgin Media, Carphone Warehouse, Tiscali

I'm moving from Tipex (Tiscali/pipex) to adsl24 asap

http://www.adsl24.co.uk/

from what I hear they are like what freedom2surf (now owned by tipex) used to be a few years ago

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Happy

Go with a 'minor'

whilst the 'big six' have all the headlines. they're all unfeasibly rubbish. Personally I much prefer to stick with a 'minor' where you can pick up the phone and get it answered quickly by someone in england who understandard what you're on about. Zen, AAisp and Griffin all hit this nail on the head..

so go with one of them even if it's a couple of quid more a month than the 'big six' as its worth it too avoid the pain...

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Happy

There ARE still some good little ISPs out there

I'm with Be* and have nothing but praise for them, they're fast, inexpensive (i won't describe them as cheap) and are not afraid to communicate with their customers.

Unfortunately only time will tell with their service as parent company O2 launch their offering on Be*'s network.

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Re: 6 or is it less

Exactly, last time I checked my ISP ( not a member of this "Rouges Gallery") and that of most of the UK provide a service via BT... So is this not a dictatorship for most of us?

Oh and by the way Rogues, check your Oxford Dictionary for the definition of the word "Unlimited"....

Who needs a "24meg" line and be 'profiled' after the blink of an eye. Pull your marketeers into line and get real with us or die a digital death from descenting down-loaders as they disappear ;)

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Black Helicopters

@ 6 or is it less

As an Openreach engineer, who actually connects up you, the punter, to the Network; I can say that BT, Virgin Media, Carphone Warehouse, Tiscali, Orange, and Sky, all use different Networks.

[Virgin Media do not use the BT 'last mile' anyway.]

All the non BT companies have their own DSLAM's in the local exchanges. You will find AOL kit next to the Opal kit in an exchange, both CPW! Tiscalli is Tiscilli kit, Orange is Wanadoo kit, Sky is Easynet kit. Vodaphone will be BT kit, when they get there act together.

When I jumper up a customer from the Bar Pair, it doesn't worry me if the equipment side is BT or another Service Provider. The Service Provider is no always BT, even though the 'last mile' from the exchange to you is owned by BT.

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Anonymous Coward

adsl 24

I think folks should be aware that adsl 24 are a Entanet reseller and not actually an ISP, just a marketing agent. While Entas services are fine (we are resellers ourselves, but not into self indulgent advertising) there should definitely be a delineation between real ISP's who own the infrastructure and resellers who are merely there to market and take a cut of the sales.

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re:adsl 24

Yes they are Enta resellers and Enta is very good in my expereince, I'm guessing anonymous coward is from ukfsn by the sounds of it, another reseller, I now have 2meg unlimited, which is actually unlimited after ditching AOL after it was bought by CPW and went from a great unlimited service to an attrocious very limited FUPed one, without bothering to inform me, I think in 5 years the big 6 will be dead as people grow tired of the abominable service and switch, either that or they will put people off to such an extent as the pensions industry did with all it's "mis-selling" cough fraud cough that people who only use email, IM and a little web surfing go back to dialup.

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Unhappy

Customer Service ?

I have no real issues with the quality of my "up to" 8mb + phoneTiscali package deal.

But the "Customer Service " is astoundingly poor. And mean minded and usually incompetent.

How they can think it is acceptable to keep me hanging on an 0870 number for ages and then give me seven kinds of run around each time I call, for weeks on end, to resolve the issues which they caused when they've screwed up my account. It beggars belief.

When I found a person who actually did what he said he'd do things resolved almost instantly. But before that I had people who'd deny there was a problem. Or who promised to pass it on to the department that deal with these things, or promised that they would resolve it themselves, and then did nothing. Often there was not even a record on their system, next time I called.

They actually make money on the 0870 number, to let me speak to them on a phone line I'm already paying to rent from them, to fail to resolve their own errors.

Madness.

Oh, and of course they don't answer e-mails.

(But then which customer service departments ever do, even from companies that have e-mail contact only! But that's another issue.)

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"anonymous coward"

Thanks for that!

If you had read my post, I commented I was not into self advertising, hence publishing as anonymous as my user name gives the company name away. And no, I have no connection with UKFSN / Jason or similar.

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re: adsl24

And, I'd add, that there is also a difference in cost and service between Entanet resellers - competition within competition. I'm in the process of migrating from abother Entanet reseller to ADSL24 - same infrastructure but a different package.

I hope the smaller players don't entirely get squeezed out because in the long run they're the only ones likely to be providing static IPs, non-proxied web access and universally unblocked ports. On the other hand, they're not likely to be offering value-added services either (eg IPTV) - but that might just be a good thing!

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Unhappy

BT is just as bad as the rest!

I was with PlusNet and had an appalling service after they changed to their new Broadband scheme. I was getting 5MB which wasn't too bad, but then I started getting a noisy phone line, at that time provided by OneTel.

I then got speeds as low as a spectacular 75k on a number of occasions and an average well below 500K.

I could get no satisfaction from either of them so in the end I returned both services to BT.

Guess what!!!

I have pestered BT about the appalling line speeds and they say that 300K is withing accepatble limits and won't do anything about it!

The whole thing has gone to the dogs and we're just being screwed for crappy service. Just for a change!

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service does suffer when prices are squeezed -

Working for the best of the big six, I'll leave you to your own thoughts on that one, and as a network specialist normally working with MPLS/private circuits etc, there are a few thoughts I can leave you with here.

Yes, there is indeed a squeeze on service from all operators - having a fiercely competetive market with an emphasis almost exclusively on price - a demand driven by the consumer, means that something somewhere has to be cut.

As it costs largely the same to provide a DSL service, if one operator is selling it for £10 a month and another for £30 a month, guess where the gap came from. When it comes time to renew contracts, not many people put service over monthly costs and then complain when they don't get thier 'moneys worth'! Serously though, service teams cost, and the people working them expect a decent salary, and consumers just aren't willing to part with the extra.

Performance - ADSL runs over telephone lines - they weren't designed to deliver high speed data, and sometimes they work, others they don't. Whether it works or not depends on the individual routing from the exchange kit. If you're line won't deliver 8Mb, it's probably down to physics rather than your ISP being malicious - above all remember that you're paying a very small sum of money for what would have been a very expensive service not too long ago.

If you really need a reliable data flow, have a leased line installed from an ISP - it will only cost about £650 per month for a 2Mb service - I remember installing these abut four years ago to companies who couldn't yet get broadband and it cost £1200 per month - kind of puts broadband pricing and service into perspective : )

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