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back to article Greedy Sky admits: We crippled broadband with TOO MANY users

Sky has confessed it has overloaded its broadband service by putting far too many Brits onto its network. The media giant told The Register that it has run out of capacity in certain corners of the UK, which has knackered its users' internet connectivity at peak times. Subscribers to Sky Broadband Unlimited in Doncaster, North …

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Holmes

Anyone who RELIES on broadband at home, but is stupid enough to choose Sky as their provider, deserves what they get. Want a decent service you can rely on then get Zen or A&A. Yes they are more expensive but...ummmm.....there's a reason for that.

No sympathy whatsoever. Pay for a Trabant, expect it to break.

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Anonymous Coward

That was my exact thought, if you are working from home you need an ISP that serves as "business class"

Not a race to the bottom residential ISP

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Pirate

There are plenty of towns in the UK that don't have a range of providers. It's pretty much BT and whoever is reselling access to their lines. When I moved to a new address sky was slower than a dial up modem. They did say their fibre which was six months away from rolling out but would only guarantee speeds that slower than using my 3g phone as a modem. In the end had to go with BT fibre to get decent service but that is in large part because at least 95% of the houses in my area use sky.

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One particularly frustrated customer in Doncaster had this to say:

Internet is completely unusable, so this is the THIRD night in a row that I am unable to fulfil my contractually obligated working from home via the internet, so a third night's overtime lost. Not only is this a pain, it's actually losing me wages

______________________________

This is actually not covered in the T&Cs of a residential broadband line. Infact using a residential line for business purposes is a direct breach of the T&Cs. While the person above is probably only doing some work from home and not using it for a business they are likely fine, they have no leg to stand on for lost income by being unable to connect for work. In this case Sky is safe to effectively say "oh boo hoo, you cannot work from home. Tough luck, not our problem."....fixing their overloaded network and contention issues, however, is their problem.

While working at BT for 7yrs the number of small businesses trying to use a residential BB package for the business was staggering. Any time someone got indignant on the phone with me about losing money blah blah blah, I would remind them it is a residential line and using it for their business was a breach of their T&Cs. If they wished I would connect them to BusinessBB sales so they could move/upgrade their service to the business product.

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Paris Hilton

I always found small companies were very high maintenance, especially the ones who scream down the phone and refuse to believe you and when you fix their problem don't say thank you for going beyond what you were supposed to support (Waves fist).

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Megaphone

uhu

"If they wished I would connect them to BusinessBB sales so they could move/upgrade their service to the same shit service, packaged as a business product for 5 times the price."

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Do get real

He's not running a business - he's working from home - a pretty reasonable requirement in the year 2013.

Hopefully ISPs are unlikely to be shortsighted enough to think that such a jobsworth response is going to keep them in business.

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Stop

Re: Do get real

"He's not running a business - he's working from home - a pretty reasonable requirement in the year 2013."

Actually he's contractually obliged to work from home, which means that his company should be contractually obliging him with the means to do that. At my old company, that meant a £50/month DSL connection, which was certainly not a residential service. Added to that a 3G dongle was provided.

Screaming about losing £100s or £1000s when only paying £15 or less for the infrastructure to do it? I'd stop listening at around the 3rd syllable I think.

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Re: uhu

"If they wished I would connect them to BusinessBB sales so they could move/upgrade their service to the same shit service, packaged as a business product for 5 times the price."

But with the ability to recoup any losses, yes. You don't usually pay for a better product, you pay for a better service and the protections that brings.

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Re: uhu

As an independent, I always advise against going directly to BT for business broadband, but instead go to a third-party, as although they use BT for the line etc. BT is obliged through SLA to provide a quality service, something they are not for their own direct customers...

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always found small companies were very high maintenance

and focused excessively on saving penny's.

Which leads many to go with consumer/High St. solutions rather than business solutions, because that is all they know. On the other hand as a small IT business I do envy those who have the benefit of a sugar daddy VC who is prepared to pour in money until such time that they manage to work out how to make money...

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Anonymous Coward

Broadbeans provider

The funny thing is, how many consumers who choose a broadband provider because it's suspiciously cheap without caring about the quality, don't look twice at supermarket own-brand goods because they prefer to pay extra for a brand they can trust?

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Anonymous Coward

Business broadband

Would that be the one with 28 day response and a massive penalty payment of up to 1 months broadband rental? The one that cost 3 times as much for a worse service? Been there done that.

NTL were not as arrogant, but no more efficient.

As above I recommend Zen, they unlike NTL & BT are normally interested in fixing a fault efficiently and in good time.

Plusnet weren't bad either.

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Mushroom

Re: Do get real

Maybe he doesn't work for your old company.

Maybe his business (like many businesses) works on a shoestring budget and is taking advantage of modern tech to reduce costs.

Maybe £50 per month and a dongle for X staff would be way beyond its budget and make the difference between being a business and not being a business.

Maybe the answer to local traders who complain when the council reduces parking spaces for their customers is "build your own car park like Waitrose".

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@Shadowthrone

"While working at BT for 7yrs the number of small businesses trying to use a residential BB package for the business was staggering. Any time someone got indignant on the phone with me about losing money blah blah blah, I would remind them it is a residential line and using it for their business was a breach of their T&Cs. "

I know, how dare those ungrateful fuckers demand a service that they have paid for (Internet that doesn't just die suddently because some fat fingered BT engineer [oh sorry 'Open Reach'] got Greggs pasty dirt in the exchange or twisted another copper pair round your connection). The audacity!

I was once a BT customer...never, ever, ever, ever again. Even if they offered free internet. Maybe that's why the company you worked for is such a festering turd/ blot on the technological landscape. Remember those 'indignant' people were paying customers.

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Re: Do get real

Anyone either running a business, or working for a business and needing to work from home, such as this Doncaster user, needs also to consider alternatives, whether LLU or via a mobile network. It's really not that costly to have 15 GB/month with Three and use their wireless router for home use to 'share' the USB dongle. No guarantee with LLU that somethiing like a digger won't break all connections from the exchange, or a power fault at the exchange won't lose all connections, so a mobile network backup seems best.

That was how, after moving home, I continued to run as if nothing had happened (while Primus got the line for calls, and my broadband from Plus.Net was set up once I knew the new number {previous occupants took their number with them some 500m to a block of flats}). I used Three's data network for 4 years and only cancelled last September because Fibre was due... sadly, Openreach delayed launching it from Sept 2012 to May 2013 where I am, but tethering still works, should my line be down for more than a few hours, and 2-4 Mbps is fine for my e-mail and general needs.

The deal I had was fairly good... 8 quid a month for 15 GB of data (and I was often able to get to 95% or higher!

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Stop

The supplier isn't the issue (although actually Sky have a surprisingly good reputation). The issue is having your wages dependant on residential broadband. At the very least you should be paying for a business package and preferably two connections from different ISPs. Personally I'd go with a landline business solution and a wireless solution as backup. The chances of both being completely out at the same time is pretty remote.

But of course if your business is dependant on internet connectivity then a leased line is better. Most of those come with SLAs and don't have capacity issues. Of course they cost more than your average broadband solution. Funny that :)

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Re: uhu

"If they wished I would connect them to BusinessBB sales so they could move/upgrade their service to the same shit service, packaged as a business product for 5 times the price."

Check the differences between a Business Broadband SLA and a residential SLA.

From memory, residential is an engineer will respond within 3 days and repaired within 14 days while business broadband is an engineer will repair within 24 hours (or 8 hours with "premium". I'm not including compensation/refunds as they aren't worth a great deal if your business is down.

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Re: Do get real

"Maybe his business (like many businesses) works on a shoestring budget and is taking advantage of modern tech to reduce costs." and increase risk.

In that case, they've massively messed up the risk/cost assessment. Maybe they should understand the cost of actually being able to do business and recognising that if they need someone to work out of hours at home that a cheap broadband connection with (as good as) zero SLA is just not going to cut it.

Complain all you like, but it costs 33p per day for a reason. To put it in context, a 1st class stamp costs about twice that, and you wouldn't rely on it to deliver a business critical document within 1-2 days.

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I'm connected to an exchange that's a shed serving just 138 properties; some city exchanges serve 20,000 properties. But I have an extensive choice of providers. Of course they all use BT backhaul, but the service (Zen in my case) is second to none.

So I'll never have the choices of Virgin or Fibre, but you just have to make the best selection from the choices available.

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Anonymous Coward

It

It will get worse.

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Re: Business broadband

"Plusnet weren't bad either."

Given they're a 100% BT-owned company and have been for a while, is that claim still valid?

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Re: Do get real

"and only cancelled last September because Fibre was due... sadly, Openreach delayed launching it from Sept 2012 to May 2013"

You did see the recent ASA determination against BT for misleading advertising of fttc availability?

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N2

Couldnt agree more

Pay peanuts, expect monkeys?

Incidentally, IDNet is pretty good.

The only problem in about 6 years , I called them & spoke to someone who said, yes they were working on a problem and it would be fixed within an hour. about 30 minutes later, I got a call to say it was all working.

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All Fairness

Sky make this abundantly clear and will hand off commercial customers to the company that provides their service. If you say its for business use they will refuse to provide the service and they are not only very clear about this but helpful about finding you someone else.

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Mushroom

Re: uhu

""If they wished I would connect them to BusinessBB sales so they could move/upgrade their service to the same shit service, packaged as a business product for 5 times the price" disconnect them, break the line, arse up the bills, and finally to put the nail in the coffin, give then a businesshub.

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Re: Couldnt agree more, @N2, 1824

I am a fan of IDnet, they're a good bunch and I can't recall any time I've had any bandwidth/shaping/etc issues - even right now, in peak time, I've downloaded a Linux ISO (no, really), at 5.5-6MB/sec, on a line rated at approx 60mb - not going to grumble with that, pretty decent when you take routing, packet loss, and other HTTP overheads into account..

I also like the fact that if you do have to call them up, you mention you are using a Draytek, and they automatically drop into SysAdmin mode, and are more than happy to get down to the nitty gritty without worrying about whether you have checked your microfilters (back in the ADSL days, natch) etc - they assume you have a degree of competence, which is refreshingly good.

Costs a bit, and has (fairly decent, admittedly) bandwidth caps, but well worth it for a good service from a technical, and customer service POV. Must admit, I found Be* to be pretty good too in the same respect when I was down south, and would have gone with the again had they had a card in the exchange up here.

It's not a business line though, and if I were forced to WFH, I'd be getting one. At least that way I can say I've done what I can to ensure business continuity.

Point is, quality costs. Yes, up to a point you can't get perfect service from any supplier (too many variables) but you can get very good service from some.

Steven R

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Re: Business broadband

>Plusnet weren't bad either.

But are now part of BT... Not sure the legendary service has been maintained.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do get real

Exactly, it's like saying you should be on a business mobile tariff to be able to use your phone for the occasional business call.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: uhu

But he doesn't have a fault, he is a victim of massive contention due to Sky being cheap-skates.

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Never had anything other than virtually full throughput in the 18 months I've been with them. Even signed up to FTTC just before Xmas.

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Zen Internet. The best. Absolutely no-one else comes near them for reliability and service

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Paris Hilton

"move to the BusinessBB"

...which, from my experience of BT as both a residential and business customer, was equally as shit in terms of quality of service but was more expensive.

I'm not a lawyer but I suspect that you're hardly breaking the T&Cs using the broadband for business purposes so long as your usage lies within the fair usage bounds - although I guess you're right, you wouldn't have a claim for lost income. You'd need to clearly define business in this context - by your definition, someone using E-bay to buy and sell products for profit would be in breach. An altogether interesting area of law.

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Childcatcher

You assume of course that all home workers earn good money...

...perhaps a business package is beyond his salary means. Not all home workers are high paid IT professionals.

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@Annihilator Re: Do get real

>Actually he's contractually obliged to work from home, which means that his company should be contractually obliging him with the means to do that.

Probably in the past, but now we're in the brave new world of BYOD ....

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@Anonymous Coward Re: Do get real

The key difference between mobile phone and broadband agreements is that no distinction is made between social and business usage. You basically have a business contract because of the extra (largely administrative) features it gives you.

Similarly WiFi hot spots don't distinguish between usage types, the service is "as is".

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Stop

Re: Do get real

"Exactly, it's like saying you should be on a business mobile tariff to be able to use your phone for the occasional business call."

No, it's like saying that you can do all the business calls you like on your phone, but you can't claim loss of earnings on it should it not work one day.

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Re: Business broadband

I've been with them for years at a couple of different locations. No complaints.

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Anonymous Coward

"There are plenty of towns in the UK that don't have a range of providers. "

Utter and complete rubbish.

Thanks to the way BT is forced to operate, *everyone* who can get BT or Sky ADSL can get ADSL from one of tens of ISPs. Including Zen and Andrews and Arnold plus a few of the other "top shelf" ISPs.

I am in a village of 2000 people, I've been with a "quality" ISP ever since ADSL was made available here. Now I'm on fibre with the same brilliant ISP. My exchange does not have any other ADSL equipment than BT's.

Availability is not the excuse as to why people have to go with cheap and nasty ISPs - indeed, anyone who can get Sky Unlimited have to be on an exchange where Sky has installed their equipment and is therefore likely to have other LLU based ISPs, so that only improves my argument! We're not the US where only one or two companies are available.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Business broadband

It has, I can assure you. Plusnet are as good as they have always been, despite being owned by BT.

Infact since getting inbed with BT, my connection is improved significantly, and they are often offered up trials of new tech eventually destined for the main BT customer-base.

Plusnet have some great fibre trials.

http://goo.gl/E0EVT

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Anonymous Coward

Most people

Figured this one out years ago, it's been creaking under the strain of numbers for ages.

Add that to their shoddy router, and policy of not allowing you to run your own kit and it's not a very attractive offer from Sky.

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Re: Most people

I had Sky broadband for a day exactly for that reason. I got an offer, six months three and then the ongoing price being half what I pay Be* it seemed too good to be true - it was.

The naff little sagem router they gave me look like it came out of a kinda surprise. I googled how to dump the firmware to get the login details I needed to use my own router, an N-Spec wifi with gigabit switch (mobile broadband's ace) to no avail so I called them.

Ten minutes on the phone to a customer service monkeh asking for my PPPOA details (or whatever they were) - no, not the router login details, I was informed you're not allowed to use your own device "for better customer service" - I was only calling customer service because they were stopping me doing what I wanted!

It honestly had never occurred to me they'd pull such a dick move, especially as I'd been with Be* for so long, they have a similar policy, they issue a relatively bland router but they also let you use your own. You call customer services, they ask are you using the Be* router, you tell them no and they tell you to plug it in and call back - why couldn't Sky do that?

It has the same benefits to the company of a generalised platform so they don't have to hire intelligent people for the call centre, just those capable of clicking responses on a screen and reading out the next but it has a vastly greater end user experience.

I asked to be put through to cancellations, which they were more than happy to do as it was something they could actually do and put down as an achievement for the day. Cancelled not only the internet but the phone and television (was moving over to the phone with the internet, had the TV for a few years).

Called Be* back up, sobbed it was all such a big mistake and they not only welcomed be back but gave me two months free to sooth the pain. Can't recommend them highly enough either - the service when I've contacted them with enquiries has been superb, never had any peak slowdown (though I guess it's subjective form exchange to exchange) and not had any problems - even used it for remote working that I had a job for eighteen months, two days at home a week without any trouble.

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Small Kudos

They're admitting overselling their capacity, unlike others who claim "unlimited" but put caps on your usage so the internet slows down to a crawl, just when you (and everyone else) wants to use it most :)

ISPs should stop playing the numbers game, set a "speed limit" which they can provide, and then work in background to improve infrastructure, and then, when it's ready for us greedy buggers (ISPspeak for folk who want what they pay for), upgrade the speed.

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'One user of the ADSL service went public to report that his or her download speeds dropped to 2Mbps:'

2Mbps? Where do I sign up?

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2 MBits!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

'One user of the ADSL service went public to report that his or her download speeds dropped to 2Mbps:'

2Mbps? Where do I sign up?

DITTO!

People where I live would form pitchfork waving mobs for 2 MBits

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FAIL

You get what you pay for

You get what you pay for. Cheap broadband means something has to be squeezed somewhere be it network capacity or poor tech support.

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Hey, at least it works...

2mbps? That's about 2mbps more than I get from my 60mbps Virgin Cable broadband service.

And as for the person losing wages - if it's that important, they buy a business DSL package, don't cheap out.

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Re: Hey, at least it works...

BT have a response about phone lines. Residential takes longer to fix than commercial with the latter being something they would compensate you for during extended lack of service.

Same goes for broadband. NEED it for work? Get the business package.

Wonder what he does that can't be downloaded and performed offline.

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Wonder what he does

I'd guess BT Broadband customer support. Well. you wouldn't want to run that on the BT network would you.

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Anonymous Coward

""we'll never slow your Unlimited broadband down, even at peak times"

... it's all the other users not under-investment! ;)

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