back to article Broadband advertising speed gap widens

The gap between the marketing and reality of broadband speeds has grown even wider, according to figures released today by Ofcom. The average package is now sold as 11.5Mbit/s but in fact delivers just 5.2Mbit/s downstream, a 54 per cent shortfall. A year ago the average actual performance of 4.1Mbit/s was 42 per cent less than …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Anonymous Coward

FFS

Just tell them If they keep on advertising Max speeds instead of average they will get a big fukoff fine !!!!

so with every AD the main figure should be the average and then on a smaller note Up to ....

11
0
Silver badge
Thumb Down

So what else do they do?

The adverts seem clear enough to me. They are selling a technology that supports speeds up to 8Mb/s or 24Mb/s. They all state that actual speed will depend on your particular line and most invite you to enter your number or postcode in a checker to get an estimate. It only takes ten minutes with Google to confirm that. Anyone that signed up to an xDSL service without knowing about the distance issue is a fool.

Anyway how else would you advertise such a service? Look at it another way - if you were selling your car and someone wanted to know how fast it would go, what would you tell them? It's the same principal. Too many variables and it depends too much on who is reading the advert.

What would be more interesting and more relevant would be for Ofcom to compare connection speed with throughput over time. Just how often does throughput reach 85% of connection speed (allows for 15% overhead which is unavoidable)? On that scale VM don't look so hot - especially on their lower tier products.

1
6
Bronze badge
WTF?

but thats not the point

Hey how about i advertise to you

*UNLIMITED IT SUPPORT for only £45 Per Month

*limited to wether i can get the fuck out of bed and listen to your Bitching !!!

Its taking the piss the same amount

what percentage of their customers get the up to speed, most likley under 1%

my freind who lives not 100M away from the exchange only gets 6.5 (alhtough he lives in the ass end of no where)

0
0

Wrong

Sorry, but you are comparing non experts and (expert) professional sales there.

If an expert/professional (what businesses are) is selling a car - then they do know the top speed of the models they sell.

Now getting back to the actual thing being discussed - a professional company sells a product and mis-labels it as being much much faster than it actually is.

That is what people are cross about. If they didn't *LIE* about the speeds attainable, then there wouldn't be much of a problem.

Oh yeah... and then there is the whole 'unlimited' *LIE* too to still be sorted-out.

0
0
Paris Hilton

Re : So what else do they do?

So how many people do actually understand the complexities of download speeds over copper, distance from the exchange and contention for exchange bandwidth?

It's the same with every difficult subject. Some people are experts, some proficient, and most, sadly, ignorant. So unless you are a total expert at everything (like wot I is) then how about giving the ignorant the benefit of the doubt. You never know if someone did take the time to teach then then they too might be as brilliant as you obviously are in your field.

Of course then they'd take your job too, but that's a small price to pay for spreading knowledge and goodwill init?

0
0
Silver badge
Thumb Down

Car speed is a bad analogy

@AndrueC

"if you were selling your car and someone wanted to know how fast it would go, what would you tell them?".

I'd tell them how fast it would go. Most cars have a (usually illegal) maximum speed, and most drivers could attain that speed by finding a long, straight, level, and preferably empty road, pressing their right foot to the floor and waiting. The result will usually be within 10% of the advertised speed.

More interestingly, all cars have by law to provide fuel consumption fugures. These figures relate to a set of carefully constrained tests, but they are a useful measure for comparing different models. Unlike ISPs, car manufacturers aren't allowed to say "this car will do 60 mpg" when in fact it won't manage 30 mpg.

1
0
Silver badge

Perhaps car speed is a good analogy.

If you get in your car on a busy road you're not going to achieve max speed. You need to pick a place/time where there is little traffic.

Try your internet speed at 2 am in the morning when the traffic is light and you might achievefull speed so long as the rest of the neighbourhood are not downloading DVDs.

I regularly get 50% more than advertised speed at off-peak times, but then I don't have a very typical ISP.

Your 30 or 60 mpg car won't achieve that in all conditions (stuck in traffic, going up mountain passes,...) which is why a lot of the mpg tests are actually done with modelling rather than real road driving. Perhaps, as you suggest, ISPs should have to provide numbers based on an agreed set of models.

0
0
Silver badge
Thumb Down

It's not about unlimited

Actually I agree on 'unlimited' - that needs to be killed off.

But on 'up to' I just don't think you lot understand. ISPs simply /don't know/ what a given telephone line is capable of. None of them own or maintain the cable. Most of them don't even own the equipment in the exchange that the cable is connected to.

All they can do is consult the BT Openreach database and see what it says for a given number. If the number has been used recently to provide an IPStream service then the database ought to be fairly accurate. Unfortunately for lines that haven't been used for IPStream (either LLU or just no prior service) the database can only be a guess based on what BTor knows about the likely line length and quality in that part of town. Even assuming BT know the line length they can't be sure that a rat hasn't been nibbling at it or the ducting collapsed or that there's some local interference nearby.

So what to do then?

Some of you think the ISP should quote a minimum speed. What speed? It's the same problem as above. The ISP is relying on a third party's database that may or may not be accurate. The only honest thing they can do is tell you what the technology is capable of and point out that the actual speed will depend on factors outside of their control.

Look at this another way - so you sign up and the speed is not what you thought you'd get. Well tough. There's bugger all the ISP can do about it (assuming we're talking about connection speed not throughput). It's not like you can stamp your foot and move to a faster ISP. Your line is what your line is.

There's only two companies in the country that lay or upgrade cable. That's BT Openreach and Virgin Media. Everyone else (without exception) piggy-backs on their efforts. Sure in times past some LLUOs installed better equipment in the exchange but unfortunately the laws of physics mean it doesn't make much difference for most people.

Now if you're connecting at xMb/s and only getting half that in throughput then I'm on your side. Totally. However if your complaint is connection speed I can only suggest you go to various sites and try a few tweaks (home wiring is a frequent culprit),. But whining about 'up to'? Pointless. Your ISP almost certainly has no control over that.

0
0
Silver badge
Thumb Down

Huh?

>Of course then they'd take your job too, but that's a small price to pay for spreading knowledge and goodwill init?

Why would they have my job? I'm a software developer. I'm no expert. I just spent fifteen minutes researching the product before I signed up. Since then I've learnt a lot more but fifteen minutes is all it takes to understand that ADSL is distance limited.

2
0
MrT
Bronze badge

Prius

"Unlike ISPs, car manufacturers aren't allowed to say "this car will do 60 mpg" when in fact it won't manage 30 mpg."

Except the biggest difference between claimed and actual mpg is currently held by the Toyota Prius - claimed is around 66mpg, actual 48 mpg. Compare to BMW 520d, with claimed of 56mpg and actual just over 50mpg on the same run - Times online.

And yet the Prius gets the plaudits for being 'eco'.

Clearly the way the driver drives is a big influence here, unlike the ISP user who pretty much points and clicks. Unless throttling/load balancing is employed by ISP then the only factors are line length and line quality between exchange and user - beyond the exchange the backhaul is pretty much what it is and there are very few major hubs in the UK system at which the bRAS profile is set.

0
0
Flame

Laws don't apply to rich corporations?

"Anyone that signed up to an xDSL service without knowing about the distance issue is a fool."

"Everybody who's bying this kind of bread without knowing how it's done, is a fool" - same idea, different product.

Now tell us why?

Essentially this is large scale fraud: ISP is selling something they know they can't deliver and dont give a damn about it. And no-one makes them or punishes them for this. Crime pays, obviously so well that even laws won't apply. And the puppets called MPs don't do anything.

If you or I do that, we'll end up in jail for a long time, obviously the state thinks that very rich are an exception.

0
0
Silver badge

Virgin

"Virgin Media's cable network, which covers about half the country, beat all ADSL providers, with its up to 10Mbit/s package delivering a real average of 9Mbit/s over 24 hours."

Unless you use it of course...

3
5
FAIL

RE: Virgin

Since I have got Virgin Broadband, my response to you is this sir: don't talk bollocks.

4
6
Pint

Hold on

I'm happy.

I was with Sky the biggest over-subscribers going. I was sold 16Mb ADSL, at first I got 5-6MBps, then after after 6 months I was down to around 100 kbps, all the time! Phoned Sky and asked them to check, they more less said tough luck nothing we can do.

I jumped on Virgin's 10MB and I am getting 9.8MBps almost all the time, the evenings it drops to around 5-6MBps, I'm not there so I don't care. I thrash the life out of my link from around 2am to around 9am, I get just a fraction over 9.8Mbps consistently.

1
0

Technically

Technically he's right - try downloading a couple of gigs of hard-core donkey videos (on parachutes natch - what DID you think I was referring to?) during prime-time and you might notice your connection gets throttled.

Weirdly, I've never actually noticed throttling on my connection - even when, after an old HDD died, I had to re-download every game on my Steam account (40 gigs or something) - though to be fair, I left that running over night.

My 20Mbs connection generally ticks over at 16+ Mbs - as long as the server can cope. I've certainly noticed server bottle-necks since I upgraded to the 20Mbs service.

As an added plus - since I moved to Virgin I don't have to deal with BT any more... which is nice ;)

1
0

Attention leechtards

>>"Virgin Media's cable network, which covers about half the country, beat all ADSL providers, with its up to 10Mbit/s package delivering a real average of 9Mbit/s over 24 hours."

>Unless you use it of course...

Correct. You *cannot* average 9Mbit/s on a normal residential connection. Virgin has, and applies, strict throttling. Don't take my word for it though:

http://allyours.virginmedia.com/html/internet/traffic.html

Do the simple arithmetic. You can *at best* average 5.4Mbit/s over 24 hours, assuming that you get 100% of your 10Mbit/s for the 550 minutes per day that you're allowed to try. This isn't some tricksy lawyering, it's the plain language of their SLA, which blatantly contradicts their headline claims.

I've pointed this out to the ASA, but (as usual) simple English words written in consecutive order are way too complicated for them to understand.

8
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

@Rogerborg

Thank you - I foolishly expected people to look it up themselves.. People on the 50 and (to an extent) 20 meg packages won't experience it (yet), but the article refers to the 10Mb package.

0
0
Bronze badge

Figures?

Alternatively, they have to use the 'whole of network' averaged figures that OfCom collects and if they want to show an improvement they pay for a re-test.

That would cause a few sphincters to pucker

0
0
FAIL

How?

How can you offer a typical speed range on ADSL? "Connection is up to 24Mbps, typical speed range is 0-24Mbps"?

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Typical speed range - easy

Just quote the average speed +- the standard deviation, which is how a statistician would quote this (as opposed to some one in marketing who would happy quote the maximum theoretically speed).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_deviation

1
0
Silver badge
Thumb Down

What a pointless exercise.

That would be like quoting the average speed of vehicles on Britain's roads. Helpful to planners but completely meaningless to individuals.

0
1
Anonymous Coward

wrong

Unless those individuals were race-car drivers and had been sold a slow piece of crap car.

0
0
Thumb Up

Educate customers...

It would help if customers knew how to test the speeds they're actually getting.

My ISP have a speed test on their website. When they installed '20mbit/s' cable to my house, I tried it at various times of day and found I was getting 7mbit/s downstream at the most. So I downgraded my package to their '8mbit/s' option - and am now getting exactly the same bandwidth (7mbit/s max down) down and up, for a much cheaper price.

I suspect this logic could apply to many locations. Just remember to measure the upstream speed as well as downstream.

1
0
MrT
Bronze badge

Claimed speeds differ...

... by only a small amount for my location - BT claimed 3.1Mbps max on ADSL, but only 3.6Mbps on ADSL2 - my actual is around 3.4Mbps on the 'up to 8Mbps' ADSL service, so either they under-estimated the ADSL speed or it's all academic at the distances concerned. BTW I'm only 2 miles from the exchange, which means I should be getting higher so either the cable twists around madly between here and there or the cable quality is crud.

0
0
MrT
Bronze badge

IP Profile...

Actually, some people assume they will get 8Mbps from an 8Mbps service when in fact the backhaul limits this to a lower guaranteed speed of around 7.1Mbps - the IP profile. No-one gets the download speed at which their router synchronises to their computer. So my '3.4Mbps service' actually provides 3000bps from the Internet at it's slowest point - and this is the real speed of the service.

Then there's the ISP advertising in Bits per second when everyone thinks this is somehow linked to the file size reported by their OS when stored on their computers - but that's in Bytes, so basically divide whatever the ISP claims by 10 to find out how quickly that 2MB photo will transfer (8 bits in a byte plus checksum overheads). Since all ISPs over-egg things like this, it's ok to compare one with the other this way, but there's no way that 2MB photo will get downloaded in one second on a 2Mbps service.

Head on over to http://www.kitz.co.uk for some really good in-depth explanations of all this stuff.

0
0

That they do

My line is claimed to be capable of 512Kb/s, but I fairly consistently get 1152Kb/s. This is plain ADSL.

0
0
Silver badge
Headmaster

Close :)

Well actually the maximum throughput is 85% of the IP profile. It's around 6.1Mb/s for IPStream.

0
0

Can someone explain to me

How Virgin can claim that their services are subject to the same problems as ADSL (interference, line length, etc.) when they have a length of co-ax (not fibre, whatever their ads claim) running directly into my house?

Surely since they are own every last bit of my line I should see the full 20Mb that I'm paying for? My speeds once hit 18Mb when they upgraded my exchange to support up to 50Mb, but it's now dropped down to around 9-11.

0
0

Might only be me

When I got my mum's house upgraded to 50Mb (through Virgin) most speed tests I did were actually getting that speed, I might be the exception that proves the rule though.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

RE: Can someone explain to me

It depends on how many people use the junction outside, how many use the exchange and a variety of other things.

I've got 10Mb broadband from them and apart from 6pm to 12pm when it's slower, I get about 8-9Mb consistently.

I can tell you this though - since the other virgin user in my block of flats moved out, my speed has been OVER 10Mb at times (not for very long though!). I'm not complaining!

0
0
Silver badge
Boffin

Contention?

Unlikely to be honest but it's worth noting that with VM the coax to your house is actually going to your neighbours as well. I don't know how many houses each cable serves but I assume it's 'a street' in most cases. It probably isn't the bottleneck at the moment but it's a potential isse that BT's FTTC doesn't suffer from.

I think a more likely explanation in your case is that VM haven't upgraded the backhaul adequately. I don't know enough about their network to know how easy it is for them to upgrade the cabinet to exchange link for instance.

0
0
Thumb Down

How do they get away with it?

Why is OFCOM and the ASA so toothless regarding this issue? It is a blatant misrepresentation of the actual DL speeds experienced by the end user and as such should not be used in any of the advertising literature (and compensation should be paid out due to false advertising and breach of contract) . The speeds advertised should be the expected speed during peak times (Virgin 20Mb becomes upto 2 Mb if this was the measure - in my experience) . At least then you would know what to expect and be able chose your provider accordingly.

0
0
Silver badge
FAIL

Not only should you get the full 20Mb/s

(which I usually do, as it happens, but then, the fibre box is ten metres from my house!) but you should get it 24/7.

I fear the 'unfair use' is a far larger reducer of average bitrates than any circuit issues. About time Ofcom came down on that, not just the average rates. Because with more and more people watching video on line, it's only going to get more and more restrictive.

0
0
Silver badge
FAIL

How much of this is due to censorship filters?

The only credible tests carried out in Australia into the effects of net censorship systems showed speed reductions of over 70% in the worst cases. How much of the UK's speed problems are due to the actions of the IWF and colluding ISPs?

0
0
Thumb Up

Virgin Cable

In the past few weeks they 'upgraded' my connection to 50mps. I tested before and after with various speed tests and I'm pretty confident that I am getting 'near' 50mps. It's no extra charge for six months and then an extra £3 per month after that. At my end, all they did was change the modem.

I have always believed that people stuck with ASDL should pay 'up to' £15 for an 8mps line, (pro rata 'the promise') then things would improve dramatically.

0
0
Thumb Down

Huh?

"Virgin Media's cable network, which covers about half the country, beat all ADSL providers, with its up to 10Mbit/s package delivering a real average of 9Mbit/s over 24 hours."

Errm, based on my experience with Vermin Media at now four different addresses in London, I can't believe this. Can anyone explain under what extraordinary contitions VM does deliver the speeds? Surely not if you actually use the connection (and no, I'm not a heavy downloader and filesharer).

1
2
Thumb Up

re. Huh?

"Can anyone explain under what extraordinary contitions VM does deliver the speeds?"

Richard Branson's house.

0
0

The extraordinary...

The extraordinary conditions are perhaps NOT LIVING IN LONDON! :P

Telewest were consistently very good across the Midlands as far as I can tell (from where I live and people I've known, from Wolverhampton to Solihull to Leicester) - and in these places where it's now VM it's still perfectly acceptable (I generally clock 16 - 18Mbs on a 20Mbs connection and often virtually max-out when connecting to Steam since their servers can actually cope)... the connection's still great, it's the customer service that's bombed somewhat under VM.

0
0

Local differences...

"Errm, based on my experience with Vermin Media .... I can't believe this"

Based on my experience, most people I have spoken using Virgin in this part of the world (SW) and a number of comments from people here - I can.

"Can anyone explain under what extraordinary contitions VM does deliver the speeds?"

IME, no extraordinary conditions apart not being at any of the 4 places you've lived at.. perhaps you have been very unlucky in regard to last mile or exchange contention.. who knows ? Did you speak to them about the problem, perhaps even give details (upload/download, time of day etc) .. and did they say anything if so ?

"Surely not if you actually use the connection"

Yes - even when using the connection - don't be childish.

0
0
Thumb Up

Re: Huh?

Maybe it's just London - which has a fairly high population density. Certainly here in sunny South Yorkshire, I've always got the speed (or near-enough it makes no odds) Virgin have advertised. The extra megabit, I'd imagine, is being eaten away in packet overhead (headers, and the like).

0
0

Better than that

I'm on the 20mbit/s service and about 90% of the time I consistently get 15-20mbit/s.

I've had similar experience with (what's now) their cable service since it was NTL / Telewest. In the last decade I've been on .5, 1, 2, 4, 10 and now 20 mbit/s and the speed has always been close to the advertised rate. The only downside is the low upload rate. It's not below the advertised rate, but I get the same UL from my BT 2mbit/s at work as I do from my 20mbit/s at home.

Perhaps it's a local issue. I only have experience in the Tyneside and Wearside areas.

0
0

Re: Local differences...

"...Did you speak to them about the problem, perhaps even give details (upload/download, time of day etc) .. and did they say anything if so ?"

Yup, I sufferered through quite a few support calls. They usually couldn't understand the issue, saying slow connections and time outs are normal. Only once I got the poor guy on the support line to admit that too many of my neighbours were also using their service.... of course not straight away. This was near Finsbury Park. So it probably is selling more capacity than they actually have. Just funny that this is never reflected in tests.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Half?

They've also got a bloody funny way of measuring "half the country".

0
0
Bronze badge

@ Oliver Mayes

Perhaps you are experiencing network contention via the local exchange.

I have VM 10Mb BB, and it delivers 9.2 regularly.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Kind of on the ISP's side here

I don't expect to get 60mpg just because the car brochure says so.

1
6
Stop

True...

But I'd be annoyed if I only got 35mpg from it...

And please stop comparing computer technology to cars. The only thing in common is they both crash, but you have a higher chance of living if your computer crashes.

0
0

Re: Kind of on the ISP's side here

But if you only got 20mpg and less if you drove your car every day, you'd take it to the garage and tell them it was broken...

0
0
Thumb Down

Re: Kind of on the ISP's side here

...but you 'could' get 60mpg from the car if you drive it correctly. Internet providers are rarely able to give the speeds they advertise, instead adding those immortal words "up to".

0
0
Silver badge
Flame

Too true

The ISP's quote the specifications of the service they will provide. In the case of ASL2+, the specs (at least as they are used in this country) allow up to 24MBits down, but this will vary dependant on line conditions. They advertise what their service does, hence are doing nothing wrong.

What OFCOM & ASA **SHOULD** be looking at is the "Unlimited" claims, which are blatantly false. If I have an unlimitted service, and am synced at 24MBit Downstream, I expect to be able to download 7.7TB of data each month, if I so choose. Putting a cap, hidden in an (un)Fair Usage Policy means the service is NOT unlimited, and should not be sold as such.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Kinda like the 5-minute job

"It only takes 5-minutes to paint a wall". Sure... but what about the preparation? Filling in the cracks, going down to the store to get your paint, do the undercoat, wait for the paint to dry, clean the brushes, etc. Entire job = 2 days.

You can do anything and say anything out of context. The less marketing shit we get the better it is for society. Exterminating marketing execs will only take a few seconds...

4
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums