Ofcom is still fretting over ISPs who punt services using the "up to" speeds rhetoric in their advertising campaigns. The communications watchdog once again called on self-regulatory ad bodies to change their guidance to give customers "more informed decisions based on the adverts they see". New research into fixed-line …
Speed is such a tiny part of the problem
Oh noes, average speed of adsl2 installations about 10mbit, vs 'up to 20mbit'. That's still quite a reasonable connection, so long as it isn't crippled by being Unlimited* bandwidth. Seriously, whining about a few megabits here and there is utterly pointless when people will have their connections crippled by traffic management after the first gigabyte downloaded each month.
When ISPs can no longer advertise Unlimited*, Totally Not Throttled*, We Won't Spy On You* packages, then perhaps speeds can be dealt with, because ultimately 'up to' claims are true (you can get 24mbit if you live next to an exchange) whereas Unlimited* claims are, and have always been total bullshit.
Sold as advertised.
it's under the "UP TO" speed, which is exactly as advertised, stop being a bunch of idiots and learn what "UP TO" means, I could sell you "UP TO" 100mbps, and give you 512kbps, it would still be within the advertised amount.
The only time it would be wrong would be if I sold you 101mbps, then it's over the "UP TO" amount, and thus is incorrect advertising. ISP's don't need to change what they tell people is their "up to" speed, People need to learn what "Up To" means, it means "NO MORE, But could be less"
"UP TO" is meaningless
But the problem is that "UP TO" can be anything. There seems to be no liability on the provider to PROVE that you can get the fastest speed and how regularly. I would say that there should be some kind of measure stating that on average speeds should be within 20% of the "UP TO" speed. Otherwise I can have a service which I state is up to 1Gb and charge £100 per month for it and only actually provide 1Mb.
What we need along with the "UP TO" speeds is SLA's and the relevant software on the routers to give the figures to back them up.
It's *not* as advertised, that's the point.
If a high street shop said "Up to 50% off" their goods, and the maximum discount of anything there was 5%, Trading Standards would be fining them for misleading the consumers.
There are specific rules about "Up to..." discounts that specify the minimum set of products that have to be available at the maximum discount, for both the 'number of line items' and the 'minimum stock availability' at the start of the sale period.
Secondly, the Weights and Measures Act says that it is illegal to sell a customer a "1 Litre" bottle of water that only contains 900ml, but it's fine to sell it if it's got more than 1L inside.
So manufacturers actually slightly overfill everything to make sure that they don't *ever* under-fill, and spend a lot of money on very accurate and precise measuring devices to minimise the over-filling margin needed. (We sell these weighing devices, it's stunning how fast they can pay for themselves!)
So why is it only ISPs that are permitted to advertise and sell a service that they *cannot provide to anyone*?
Would you be happy if you paid £10 for an "Up to 10Mb" service that gave you 1Mb, and then 'upgraded' to paying £30 for an "Up to 20Mb" service where you still got 1Mb?
By your reckoning, that would be absolutely fine.
One earlier poster suggested that the ISPs should be banned from advertising "Up to x" bandwidth, and instead could only advertise "At least x". I could get behind that.
That would mean that people living a long way from the exchange/poor exchanges could not be sold the 'fastest' product.
That way you'd be able to buy a 5Mb connection knowing that you'll get 5Mb. Of course the ISP will probably throttle your connection down to that 5Mb if your line is actually capable of more bandwidth, but you won't mind that throttling because you're still getting what you paid for.
2meg/512k is acceptable
If you can get a low contention reliable 2meg service then you can pretty much use any Internet service acceptably well. I am not saying you can use more than one heavy service at a time though. The craving for faster speeds is driven from two areas;
1. People think they are on a super fast 8meg service or other such over sold over hyped speed when in fact they are barely getting 1meg and probably have a slow virused up computer to boot. They imagine the answer to their problems is 40meg where as getting a decent ISP that got them a reliable uncontended 2meg service and cleaned up their computers would make everything acceptable. BT slow the up speed which make things feel slower than the download speed would indicate.
2. Long line issues with BT in rural areas can often be solved by using a HGV2700 router instead of the crappy home hub. Remembering also to sort out the telephone filtering and wiring. I got one customer from 200k to 2500k. It solved all their Internet problems.
If these two things fail then remember that most of the country is reachable by Wireless Internet and I don't mean mobile phone dongle since they are crap. A typical £200 install will get you a 2meg service for the subscription price of a normal business Internet service. You might have to work with them to bring the service to your village.
"up to" is exactly what it says it is
The "up to" speeds may not be what your average user gets, but it exactly describes the situation.
More importantly, the "unlimited" usage claims are a complete lie as soon as a fair usage policy says there is in fact a limit!
..yeah 'unlimited' is just wrong. Almost no ISPs actually offer such a service. Mine does (BeThere) but not many do.
VM even manage to mislead in the response!
"Whilst Virgin Media delivers more than 90 per cent of the speeds we advertise".. he forgot the "for the 20 minutes it takes to breach the Traffic Management threshhold".
The reality is that if you use your VM connection, you will get 25% of what they promise for 90 per cent of the time.
I've had no problems
I have the VM 50Mb unlimited use package and have had no problems at all. Whenever I have tested, it has been the website I visit that has the limitations on speed, not VM.
I'm so bored with this whole argument. The broadband industry is not the only industry using "up to" in it's advertsing. Consider sales which advertise "up to 50% off" or insurance ads that tell you that you "could save up to £250". We don't have campaigns to control those advertising claims do we? Why? Because, generally speaking, we assume that people understand the english language and therefore understand what "up to" means.
If we see a sale advertised as "up to 50% off" no sensible person would expect every item in the sale, or even most items in the sale, to be reduced by half. Likewise with broadband no sensible person would expect "up to 20Mb/s" to deliver 20 meg to all, or even most, users.
We do in fact have rules about that.
If you look at the small print in those car insurance comparison adverts, you'll always see a line that says "x% of customers acheived this saving".
There are trading standards guidelines for the percentage of line items and the amount of stock that must be available at the maximum discount for a shop or chain to claim "Up to y% off".
(Admittedly, in the case of chains they don'actually to need to have that stock available at every shop, just a certain percentage of them.)
Maybe the adverts should say...
"We offer our customers speeds of up to 8MB/s, and most of our customers get an average of 6.5MB/s. Text your telephone number or postcade to 81199 and we'll tell you what speed you can expect to get at YOUR house"
The localized speed predictions tend to be much more accurate, so surely this would be way fairer. The companies get to advertise their top speeds, show off how great a speed most of their customers get, and give you a personalised speed. Some providers give you this is you visit their sites, i know BT and TalkTalk both offer more accurate speed for your address. Obv these speeds still fluctuate, but its a more fair system, in my opinion.
I don't want to know about "up to" speeds
I'm paying for "up to 8Mbps". I'm lucky if I get 200kbps. Why can't they use FTTC to give my what I'm paying for? I don't want empty oromises of lightening fast internet when what I get is thunderously slow.
Who's your ISP? If it's BT then if you were getting below 512kbps you would not be paying for 8Mbps. You get a discount on slower speeds. Or did you mean 200kBps which equates to something more like 2Mbps.
But what's your sync speed. A lot of customers who's ISPs use BT wholesale are really screwing their customers. The sync speeds can be terrific but the ISP's BT Central links are so heavilly contested that the customer' s throughput is dreadful. The ISPs manage to get their cheap price to the custyomer by not paying for enough bandwidth into BT central. If they paid for sufficient bandwidth they wouldn't be cheap any more.
how about an SLA?
I would sooner pay for a service where I have a guarantee that the minimum level will always be met and an SLA in place with my provider. Thus if (when?) they fail to meet said SLA they then have to pay me for their inadequacies and the inconvenience I have had to suffer. Oh and the pipe is clean, no packet shapers/qos/filters/whatever by the ISP to make their lives better and not mine.
I don't care if on a good day I can down load 12Mb/sec if when I really need it I'm unable to get 2Mb/s For me anything over 2Mb/s is just gravy and most the time I'm unlikely to use that capacity. Besides if the reason its a good day is because everyone else went out to enjoy it then I'm likely doing the same.....
Possible on Sync Speed
It's possible on sync speed, but not download speed. The ISP can't be held responsible for what happens further up the line.
SLAs are not cheap
Even business connections tend not to come with an SLA. As for a home connection I question whether it's even technically feasible. Too many links in the chain a lot of which are a)Not designed with networking in mind, b)Built and maintained for minimum cost and c)Not owned by the company you would have the SLA with.
When thinking about broadband and the internet issues the best analogy is usually that of a road network. Asking for an SLA is like demanding that the courier getting a package from your office in Oxford to your office in New York get it there within a couple of minutes of the stated time. Almost impossible to achieve and you won't get it for an extra 'couple of quid' on top of the standards charge.
Why would asking my courier be bad?
The couriers I use advertise "Before 9am/10am/12 noon/5pm", with different scales of charges for each for their next-day service.
I certainly do expect them to deliver before 9am if that's the service I paid for.
If they know that can't provide it, then I expect them to tell me what they can provide. "Sorry, we can't do a before 9am delivery to New York from Oxford, our fastest is next-day before 5pm and costs £x".
And if they fail to provide what I paid for, then I expect a discount/partial refund - which I get.
I also expect them to use the data they have to continually update their guidelines as to what they can and can't do so they are as accurate as possible every time I buy their service. If it turns out that next-day to New York stops being possible for whatever reason, then I expect to be told!
Other countries do it differently - but it is not necessarily good.
I lived in India (Chennai) for a couple of years and at the time (2008) tried to get the fastest available connection which I think was 8Mb from my telephone provider (Airtel). However they actually refused to sell it to me because they said I was too far from the exchange and there was no prospect of getting those speeds. Instead they sold me the 2Mb connection and I virtually always got the speed that they stated.
There is a down side to this however. I would have loved a faster connection and I could probably have got 4-5Mb if they had allowed me to buy the 8Mb connection. So the problem is that unless you want companies to vary the cost according to what speed you can get based on distance from exchange etc, you will be limited to either doing what the UK does and "mis-selling" speeds or refusing to sell speeds that aren't available, but at the same time not allowing people to get the speed that is available.
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