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back to article ISP bosses told to get real on broadband speeds

Ofcom's independent consumer quango has called on ISP bosses to ensure people feel less cheated by the broadband packages they advertise. Dissent has been mounting over "up to" advertising of broadband speeds. For most consumers, an "up to 8Mbit/s" line will crawl to about half that speed because of contention, poor quality …

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Jobs Halo

It's easy to download huga amounts legally

I'm a graphic designer working in 3D. My speciality is making high quality skins for 3D models, usually based on professional photos. I buy licensed photos from a studio and each pack is approx a CD's worth in size. I also download silly amounts of 3D models, depending on what I'm working on at the time, or what my clients ask for. In any given months I can download (and upload) gigabytes of stuff.

I'm with BT and in truth, I've never heard a peep out of them about my usage.

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Ref: demand

I can understand the need for payback to BT this is where ofcom has failed. They are a regulator for competition and all they have been concentrating on is increasing competition (in limited cheery picked areas) and keeping the retail price point low this environment stifles investment. At the same time there has been only consumer protection when there is pressure from the press. Eveidence of the competition regulation is in the the isps been allowed to advertise unlimited services they not providing its been allowed because they nearly all doing it, someone like zen who offer 50 gig of unshaped traffic get out marketed by BT who offer a unlimited shaped service with a hidden 40gig limit aka FUP. This is also why the USO has remained rooted at 28kbit all this time because there is no regulator protecting the consumer only to enforce competition. To the poster who mentioned reselling BT wholesale services making them presentable again bang on right, openreach dont need to worry about poor performing lines because they not accountable to the customer using the line another ofcom failure making openreach wholesale access only.

Finally on the subject of demand for fiber, the vast majority of the population to be blunt do not understand the technology they do not understand they are not getting what they think they paying for this is why isps consider them happy customers satisfied with what they got. Who would wager on the situation not changing if there was a prime time program on bbc educating the population on how broadband works, how its provided and sold in this country and the limits of the technology providing it. The situation would change overnight.

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Flame

*sigh* With regard to units...

... it is not a conspiracy from drive makers to diddle anyone, nor is it ISPs misleading consumers (about the maximums anyway).

Kilo is an SI prefix and it means x10^3 (i.e. x1000). It has never and never will mean x2^10 (i.e. x1024). However, for the purposes of Computer Science, it is convenient to abbreviate x1024 as 'k' even though in fact it is not. This is not about misleading but simply jargon, since programmers, hardware designers and so on understand that working with binary means that you reach 1024 when you fill a ten digit memory location with ones, but this is still close enough to 1000 for k to be a useful and obvious shorthand.

The problem came with Microsoft, who erroneously report drive size as if it should be calculated based on a kilobyte being 1024 bytes, a megabyte being 1024 x 1024 bytes and so on. The drive manufacturer did not cheat you at all, Microsoft just can't count and/or is ignorant of the units it is quoting.

Communications specialists work in terms of bits per second (b/s or bs^-1) as this is the SI unit of data throughput (bandwidth). 8 Mb/s is 8,000,000 bits per second and not 8,388,608 bits per second (8 x 1,048,576 [1024 x 1024]). Note, this is still bits and not bytes per second (B/s), hopefully I don't need to explain a byte.

As a result of this confusion and the compounding stupidity, the IEC recently introduced the kibi (binary kilo, ki), Mebi (binary mega, Mi), etc unit system. These operate on a base of 2^10 as the unit progression rather than 10^3 and actually are convenient for Computer Scientists but still often incorrectly used or poorly understood, as yet.

Unfortunately, even allowing for this, the gimp that your ISP employs on helpdesk, customer service or sales probably doesn't even understand that bit and byte are not interchangeable, and that one is b and the other B, let alone that k/M/G is not the same as ki/Mi/Gi.

In short, the ISP is offering you "upto, subject to our fair use, distance from exchange, yadda yadda" 8,000,000 bits per second when they offer you an "8 Meg" package, not 8 MiB/s which would in fact be a "67.1 Meg" connection.

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Yes, get real indeed!

We are constantly being told we are a service economy....

So communications are key.....

So BROWN & your Government get your act together.... and make sure we can use the infrastructure or our economy WILL suffer.

Tell the ISP's to pull there act together, read the dictionary ( "Unlimited" in particular) and give us access to a service infrastructure second to non... you will profit in the end!

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Anonymous Coward

Real average speeds are way below 50% of advertised speed

I am running a speed checker site and based on our statistics of more than 30000 tests conducted in September and October the real average speeds are even less than 50%. You can check realtime average stats here - http://www.broadbandspeedchecker.co.uk

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