Anyone promised broadband speeds of "up to" an amount should be free to pay a monthly fee of "up to" what's asked, according to the firebrand lobbying consultancy wispa Limited. It's not the first time wispa has riled against Ofcom, but this time its campaign has caught the imagination by asking people to tell the regulator they …
so now we're asking for smart meters on our broadband pipes?
Re: smart meters?
The ISP already has that information.
Sue the Dept. for Transport
I was driving on a 60mph road the other day and I could only go 50mph because they let too many other cars on the road.
We should just make them tell us the average speed for an area alongside the "up to" speed.
Re: Sue the Dept. for Transport
Getting a train you also expect to get there in a certain time.... but on trains if the delay is over a specified period you get a full or partial refund on the cost of the ticket.
Re: Sue the Dept. for Transport
MonkeyBot, You should know full well that, speed limits on roads are a maximum allowable by law and not a target. Trying to drive at these speeds at all times is entirely irresponsible and thus renders your analogy completely void.
I do agree with WISPA to some extent though. "up to" is far to loose a term to use for a service. however if it's within a certain percentage of the "up to" speed then the price should stand, if it falls too far below then there should be a discount. An ISP can't be held fully responsible for line conditions after all.
So, If I get 75% of the advertised speed, I pay 75% of the price.
Sounds fair to me. You get what you pay for. Or in the case of an ISP, you get paid for what you provide.
Re: So, If I get 75% of the advertised speed, I pay 75% of the price.
Why the down vote?
If you only work 30 hours a week, can you really complain when you only get paid for 30 instead of the 40 you could have worked 'up to'?
Re: So, If I get 75% of the advertised speed, I pay 75% of the price.
Downvoted because you're being ridiculously disingenuous.
Nobody is paying for "Up to" anything, they're paying for a particular connection type sold through Openreach (or Virgin). The cost of providing that connection is fixed, so the cost to you is fixed. The fact that you're a particularly special little snowflake with a bad line is irrelevant. You're costing the ISP £x, so they charge you £x+profitmargin pounds.
Why is this so hard for our poor little entitled nation to fathom?
Re: So, If I get 75% of the advertised speed, I pay 75% of the price.
It works up to a point.
I pay for Up To 8Mb and get 7616kbps sync speed, but that's not the problem. Alright with my old ISP I got a rock solid 8128kbps, but that's not a big deal. The big deal is contention. I'm lucky if I get a quarter of that speed when downloading in the evening, whereas with my old ISP I could get pretty much the whole of my 8Mb/s in downloads 24/7. Even at this time of day the throughput is only around 50% of my sync rate.
So I like the idea of only paying for what I get, but it would be difficult to prove what you were actually getting. Some ISPs scrimp on the bandwidth available from them to the internet (or if they are on BT Wholesale on their BT central link) in order to cut their costs to the consumer. If you based charges purely on sync speed those suppliers' prices would still look good. There needs to be some way of measuring the bandwidth available for a customer to actually use. But I can't see that happening.
Needless to say I'm changing back to my old ISP next month.
Re: So, If I get 75% of the advertised speed, I pay 75% of the price.
I think the hyperbole in the example is in reflection of the hyperbole in the claim "up to 8mb". Not that both sides think they are "right" but that a middle ground, or more honest advertising, is best for both.
As much as I would like to agree with this
It does depend on how far from the exchange is, apart from anything else.
However, what should happen is that there should be a way to check the speed to your modem before signing up. On the assumption that new kit doesn't get installed at the exchange for you, it should be a simple matter to get a loop to the exchange so you can check the link-speed yourself.
I have ADSL2+ but only get around 4.5mbit/sec, so ADSL1 would be fine for me. I'd be miffed to pay for "upto 24Mbit/sec" at my current speed. It would seem to make sense to have tiered 1/2/5/8/12/24 speeds and total caps specified. This "fair use" malarky is not on. Use peak/offpeak allowances if you want to modify people's usage times and move large downloads to after 11pm.
Re: As much as I would like to agree with this
You're not paying for "up to 24Mbit/sec". This is just one property of the technology used.
You are paying for an ADSL2+ connection. The achieved sync speed is out of the supplier's control.
I don't know what you're fussing about. If you pay £10 and have a fast internet connection, I'd call that a good deal.
What could you possibly want to do that would actually use 8Mbit/s anyway? I could be downloading software and streaming HD movies and still have bandwidth to spare.
If you're trying to service more than 10 users then you should be paying for a business-grade connection.
Sounds like an excellent idea
If the offering is "up to", the the bill should also be "up to".
Say you are paying £24/month for a connection that is "up to 24Mbit". So you have an SLA checker device (it'd have to be a black box appliance provided by a 3rd party" that checks the sync speed of the modem and the bandwidth to one of the designated test servers several times/day at random intervals (random to keep it fair and unpredictable to precent abuse). The test servers and the appliances would have to both be run by an independent 3rd party to ensure veriviability of the results and prevent abuse by users and ISPs.
For every 1 Mbit average on the tests during the month below the "up to" advertised figure (if there is no connectivity, e.g. modem (usually owned by the ISP and thus their responsibility to fix/replace) or exchange fault) that check counts as 0 Mbit/s), you would expect to pay proportionally (in this example £1) less per month.
Inherently fair and very workable. Now we just need an independent 3rd party to provide the monitoring appliances and the testing infrastructure. Of course, this 3rd party would have to be funded, e.g. by an additional monthly subscription + purchase of the tester appliances which those interested in partaking in such a thing would have to pay, so the consumers would get this extra cost which may or may not offset the savings on the reduction of their internet connections.
far more complicated than they are making out
First we have sync speed, this is affected by two things, line quality and line length. Now line quality is down to openreach so it seem fair enough that if your quality isn't right you shouldn't have to pay. Line length is down to the physical locations of the property and the exchange whose fault is that? If the line is correctly sold, i.e. you are told at the time what speed to expect then I don't see a problem.
Next you have contention, oversubscribed exchanges, backhaul peering, how do you test for that on an individual basis.
Then you have slow websites, my Internet in my house runs happily at around 12Mbps but I don't see that all the time and it's not down to my ISP.
However there is something else that is far less complicated to solve and that's use of the word unlimited. The best way to solve that is the same way that the mobile providers have with broadband dongles by selling a fixed amount of data.
but wouldn't the "sliding scale" model of charging mean that there was no financial incentive to supply connections to hard to reach areas, thus widening the digital divide?
Re: Superficially appealing,
Should it not work the other way around? They could charge more (thus an incentive) if they increase the speed?
I would think that a consequence of this would be that a lot of people on poor connections now would simply find themselves dropped by the ISP as there wouldn't be enough revenue in it for them.
The ISP doesn't control the conditions of the line heading to the house. Yes its annoying when to pay full price for a connection that isn't as good as others but the only solution is to improve the infrastructe and we all know there is generally a snow balls chance of that :(
As many have said, the problem is rather more complicated than has been suggested.
The price isn't just for a connection speed, it's for all the fixed costs associated with having the hardware available to even make a connection - not including the line itself, which is frequently a seperate charge ~£11 (for ADSL based lines, Virgin is obv different).
Those fixed costs are mostly the same, wherever you are in the country and actually make up the bulk of the monthly cost - QED the monthly fee remains constant and is not based on the actual speed you get.
The other fixed costs include the payment for the backhaul, which is divided amongst all customers evenly also - should you also pay less if everything you access is on servers local to you and therefore you don't use the wider web ?
The analogy with calling it "up to 1KG of sugar" or some such doesn't work, simply because, in rural areas where this argument is trying to get traction, you pay *more* for the sugar than you would in a town with multiple hyper-markets competing.
More Tarrifs needed
If the ISPs offered more tarrifs, then the problem would resolve itself.
I am with Bethere, and I get 16Mbps out of a 24Mbs subscription, about 60% of the advertised speed. My only options with the ISP are 12 or 24Mbps, so my options are to pay for 24Mbps and get 16 or drop my connection speed to 12. If they offered tarrifs for 14, 16, 18, 20, 22Mpbs I would be able to switch to whichever one was most appropriate to my line speed and be happy.
Personally I think 'up to' advertising is fine, as long as the service delivered is within a reasonable margin. I could accept getting 20/24Mbps, but 16/24 takes the piss a little bit.
Solution: Pay more
Charging by volume will allow the government to introduce an 'internet tax' very easily. I believe Belgium does this.
Anything other than uniform pricing will increase costs as the additional billing costs far outweigh any savings. Most ISPs have speed calculators for given numbers and these are generally reasonably accurate. If that says 2Mb and you get 2Mb then you dont have grounds for complaint, even if the generic advertising says 'up to xMb'.
What Wispas campaign might achieve is a huge increase in costs for the majority. Upping the cost of an 'up to 8Mb' connection to, say £30/month will allow the few to have slight reductions for underspeed lines, subsidised heavily by the rest. Bad news. The ISPs are desperate to increase their charges and they would love this plan.
Internet provision in the UK is pretty cheap when compared to a lot of countries and if you want a better service it will cost you a lot more. Telcos prefer to hand out huge profits to shareholders rather than investing in infrastructure. Witness Vodafone for example.
The solution? Check to see who offers what locally and select whichever option suits you. If you dont like any of them, then dont buy any.
To use the sugar analogy, if I buy a bag locally, it costs £1.20. If I buy at Tesco's (6 miles away) I pay 89p. I dont suggest that Tesco should increase their price to £1.20.
On this basis the ISP could charge a from rate , ie you get a minimum of 1 Meg but if you get 10 Meg you pay 10 times as much
Part of the problem ...
is ISPs using "conquer and divide" tactics to boost their profits ... At the end of the day, once the fixed-cost infrastructure has been laid, there is little difference between providing a 1M service, and a 100M service. So why do most ISPs offer myriad tiers (bundles, call it what you will) allowing them to get away with "up to" promises.
It's a little like the car manufacturers in days gone past ... the only REAL difference between the L,CL,LX,GL,GLX,L+, CL+,GL+ .... models was simply that a company could give a middle manager a GL, safe in the knowledge he would be flattered it was one up from an LX, and that he could aspire to the GLX ......
and can we have
Fines for those to stupid to filter their ADSL correctly or think a 20m cheap as fuck phone extension should work ok.
If only the author of the article knew the difference between a product and a service.
on 50meg, get 50meg
Why not split the charging, like with phone calls? Your monthly charge would then have two components.
First, the 'line rental' equivalent, i.e. your payment for the ISP making a connection available. It would be not unreasonable for this to be based on speed. When I signed up with BT I was told what speed to expect (6Mb vs advertised 8Mb) and this has proved a good estimate. Other posted above have clearly had similar experiences. So, this part could be based on a reasonable (and periodically reviewable in case of significant changes in infrastructure, contention levels etc) assessment of expected speed.
Second would be a usage-based fee, presumably charged in arrears, representing a fair share of the backhaul capcaity etc.
The balance between the two would be an additional area of differentation between ISPs. No doubt in practice most would offer a bundle including a certain amount of data, as now, but for fair pricing there would ideally be much less bundling.
After all, who should pay more: the rural-dweller with a 1Mb connection that keeps it busy 24/7 (monthly throughput 300GB+ unless my maths are out) or the urbanite with a 200Mb connection whose only use is checking email and a bit of shopping. I don't know the answer to that, as they're paying for different things: one is primarily paying for the exchange to premises connection and the other primarily for backhaul.
Upto 70 mph
Our road infrastructure has an upto 70mph limit.
My rather old landrover will only do about 50mph, so perhaps I should only pay 71% of the Road Tax for my vehicle.
There are several national speed limit roads near where I live. I defy anyone to drive down them at 60mph, even though that is the therectical limit.
When I bought my latest vehicle, I checked the official fuel consumption figures. Apparently I can get 'upto' 52mpg. Like that will ever happen! Even if I drive like a nun.
These days, most ISPs package their products with download limits, rather than speed.
The upto speed is only the maximum of the technology they are using. They could say they use ADSL, ADSL2 & let the customer work out what speed they are likely to get.
Anybody know who to contact to get my Road Tax refunded?
Internet service is like water/gas/electric etc.
Your water service doesn't advertise up to 600 gallons/s..
Your gas service doesn't sell based on rate, either. Neither does the electric company.
No other service sells their product based on (up to! ha) how much of it they'll shove down your pipe at once. They all charge based on how much the service is used. If ISPs did that as well, that would probably get rid of most of the piracy they claim is causing so much stress on their poor overworked infrastructure.
Of course, it's all bullshit and they wouldn't dare, because they're probably making money hand-over-fist on people paying for connection speeds they not only aren't getting, but wouldn't actually use anyway.
Re: Internet service is like water/gas/electric etc.
"Your water service doesn't advertise up to 600 gallons/s.."
.... but If you have low mains water pressure entering your home, due to, eg. inadequate pumping facilities, water mains that are too small, reduced pressure from the water main as a result of leakage, equipment failures or blocked service pipes then it's the water companies' responsibility to fix these to ensure adequate flow.
An idea struck me while reading the comments - how about a rebate system that compensates those who have not received what they have paid for? Perhaps the rebate can be kept back until the end of the contract, giving the ISPs an incentive to actually improve the end-user's experience.
Best idea ever!
Or should that be "Up to the best idea ever!"?
"The removal of Ofcom as the regulator of this space, to be replaced by an organisation or body who will actually look at these issues that truly effect consumers and the industry,"
"Effect"? ..... seriously?
Whilst I agree with the sentiment of your post it would have been better if you had used the 'reply' function so that others might be enlightened as to what it relates.
Partial payment fail
Allowing partial payments would be a fail since there is no reasonable way to measure what bandwidth you have available.
However, where OFCOM should step in is as follows. They should specify what contention ratio you should get as a minimum. the recourse here should be that if you get below a certain bandwidth on consecutive days you should be eligible for a refund (like if you lose phone service for so many days in a month); and also that should be grounds for early termination of your contract with no notice (by you, not by the company). Furthermore, if more than a certain percentage of people on a given exchange complain, continuing to advertise that bandwidth should be false advertising, and withdrawn accordingly. Just like the ISPs have websites that tell you whether you can connect to them in a given location, they should also maintain a website telling you what speed you will likely get from a given exchange.
So in conclusion...
A. Award a multiplier to the line/infrastructure rental depending on how much it contributes to the infrastructure subsidy pot (or receives as subsidy from the pot), but apply it to everyone in terms of cost to customer. This protects the base revenues for the BB provider by paying for the infrastructure
B. Designate/Nominate speed-test servers for testing (which has to be done on installation or within 14 days after service install) and legislate on this test being built into the BB installation procedure nationwide
C. Charge a broadband supply fee which is dependent on:
1. Performance figures achieved in tests (no test within 14 days imposes a penalty to BB installation company and sets customer on lowest monthly supplier charge until test is completed). Tests should be carried out weekly/monthly/quarterly to check for improvements? Suggestions are welcome here - contention ratios mean it's possible to remotely test most nodes almost daily with decent accuracy.
2. Mulitplier awarded when line rental was secured (if you're subsidised you pay slightly more and if your fee is subsidising others you pay slightly less)
3. Data moved across the line per month during peak and off-peak times (think Electricity, Water, Gas maybe) *I would still advocate for unmetered connections for those who want them of course...
I think this formula would result in people being happier with the COST of their broadband as it can be explained in performance terms - It would mean you pay e.g. UP TO £25/month for UP to 20Meg...
The problem is often with BT's network
How many lines - like mine - under-perform for the technical stats and are left like because BT Group are reluctant to carry out proper maintenance/ fully investigate and adequately rectify faults?
Maybe a better idea would be for the wholesale price of BT lines to be related to the performance of those lines, This would also reduce the cost to people on inadequate ally lines which should have been replaced where broadband service is requested. BT coin in rental month in month out but seem reluctant to bear any costs in terms of maintenance (witness the number of people that Openreach try to wrongly charge for engineer call outs) for lines that mostly wouldn't exist if it wasn't required for broadband.
The usual suspects are whining about rural dwellers... without them there would be shortages of food... and a shortage of fuel and power... much of the UK resource in those are rural based (look up LPG and Milford Haven)
With all the emphasis on "e everything" (including entertainment governmental functions and entertainment media) it is time this country had a proper strategy for an inclusive UK wide network that provides a decent speed and data allowance for the citizens of this country. On the subject of cost... well most rural areas already pay a disproportionate price considering the lack of investment in rural areas, when many places are still on 10 year old ADSL 1 installations while in cities there have been 2 generations of upgrade investment and where people are paying less or a similar price to that charged for slow outdated ADSL1 in rural areas where no real investment has happened in 10 years.
Sync rate/BRAS profile and... rebates!
See my earlier comment for the financial idea, but most of you are over complicating the technical angle. It's simple - the maximum you can ever achieve is close to your sync rate (known to the exchange) and, more specifically, your BRAS profile (known to BT). Don't go trying to invent ways of measuring Internet speeds, it's silly.
"Which leads to our question of the week: would you sign up with an ISP which bills you on the basis of your connection speed that month? And to where would the connection speed be measured (to the exchange, or perhaps one of the speedtest.net servers)?"
I've signed for an up-to-20Mbs, but apparently I'm too far away from the exchange to benefit from ADSL+ and have a max of about 5Mbs. I certainly think I should be paying less than the full amount. To be honest, the full amount IS cheap, but I'd much rather pay more to get decent speed and think something like this could only actually instill competition.
I dont buy speed: I buy data transfer
and that is what costs the ISP.
I don't pay ten times as much to get a letter delivered in 2.4 hours either. (it would probably cost around £50 and some locations are practically unreachable in 2.4 hours anyway).
IF the ISPS didnt quote speed, but just quoted cost per gigabyte plus a standing charge with 'delivery as fast as we can do it - typically 20ms' then people wouldn't be complaining.
Sadly I live in Shrewsbury, which, honestly nobody gives a fuck about. They refuse to install FiOS here because taking up the cobblestones will "cost too much."
However, I'd personally be happier if my shitty connection was stable.
At the moment, the only time it is is if I get connected with a DownStream of 400 kbps.
My ISP (TalkTalk) told me to contact their tech support team, and there's no way I'm falling for that again.
Last time I was in the queue for over an hour before hanging up because nobody would take my call.
The main complain doesn't hold water, as it isn't consistent with other similar areas. Take Sky for example, whether or not you get the full list of channels, they don't give you any discounts.
When you move to an area, and into a property, it is your responsibility to accept what comes with this location. The network infrastructure that OpenReach has put in place was subsidised equally.
The main issue is probably how all ISPs can offer one speed of up to X, yet BT can usually offer a higher speed of up to X, or at least closer to X, and how Openreach dates for BT are generally faster than with a competing ISP.. so much for Openreach being "open".
The thing is, its marketed and charged for "up-to" regardless of the facts on the ground.
If BT said "honestly" "in this property the speed currently available is only "up to 2 meg so the packaged offered is thus a smaller cheaper one, as we cant offer you our 20 meg package, because we know we cant deliver it... "
... there would be nothing to complain about
They however don't do that
You are not charged for 'up to' anything. You are charged for a service.
OK, OK, how about a compromise?
You pay for a service. If however the performance of that service is poor, the customer could receive a rebate.
Say if your achieved sync speed is less than half of the average for that connection type:
I suggest that if you are paying £10pcm for broadband then a fair rebate would be 10%.
This would be despite the fact that the costs of the connection to the supplier are no different, and in fact now administrative costs have slightly increased.
So take your £1 and STFU. I would bet you money that you can't use your 'up to' speed anyway.
...we're all so used to the lies that......
..every single business spouts, that it you believe a word they say, your a bit dim!
Really, you think your being offered a service for your benefit? No.
Its to satisfy GREED!
Re: ...we're all so used to the lies that......
Obviously! no-one is going to take any notice of what you say as you are incapable of communicating properly in English.
This blog post suggested this about a year ago
On the other side of the pond we have the same problem with ISPs. They advertise the skies and deliver the first floor.
Why not charge analogous to the gas bill? The bill is specified to show how much you pay for your connection (infrastructure), the rent of the meter (transport) and for the amount you use. Oh, and the one you pay for the usage is often not the same that you pay for the connection. Same for electricity. That's how the competition started and prices have been dropping since the inception.
I would be happy to do the same with my internet connection.
Flat fee to get connected and a certain bandwith (like with electricity you can opt for single-phase or 3-phase hookup and a certain amount of Amps (up-to!) ).
And pay for the usage in relation to the bandwith so if i download 100MB@1Mbps the bill would be less than when I download 100MB@20Mbps, or even pre-paid usage like on a smartphone.
just my €0,02.
What does up to 20 Meg actually mean?:
Lets flesh this out with some numbers...
What does up to 20 Meg actually mean? Well here in the countryside where I live, it means "just about" 1meg" download, and 0.5 meg upload
So what can I do about it? BT say I can have a "uncontended 2 meg leased line" with a install fee of 1000's and a yearly charge of 1000's - I could go rent an office in the local city for that and still have change
What's annoying here is that in areas where there is no competition (what no Virgin / cable!) BT are uninterested in upgrading the exchanges, as they are happy to charge me for "up to 20meg". Ironically, they are happy to pay to compete with virgin and supply fibre connections elsewhere
It's appalling and dishonest marketing and billing.
In areas where it is well known nobody gets 20meg, the price should be reduced accordingly. The teleco's do a fairly good job of (over) estimating speed at a given postcode (they can even do that online), because they know the infrastructure up to that point, so in essence, They ought to know they can only sell me "up to 1.2 mg" as that's what their own sites say is the speed I can currently receive
The data model is OK, however, if im sitting here wanting to upload 2 gigs of data, the fact it could take me 2 hours or 2 days is a big deal, as it ties my connection up for anything else I'm doing. So yes I might want to be charged be GB, but yes I expect that GB to shift in a timely manner too. The argument that say gas is sold in a volume basis is OK, However there is a caveat - that is it also needs to be supplied fast enough to heat your house and cook your food
This whole issue is a massive pile of rubbish brought about by whining morons. Anyone with half a brain can understand how the system works.
There is nothing wrong with the way ADSL is advertised or sold in the UK. It is the same as everywhere else in the world because it is an inherent characteristic of the technology.
We have fairly good broadband in the UK. We pay fairly reasonable prices for it.
All idiots like this 'wispa' are going to achieve is to make it more expensive and privacy-intrusive for everyone. I am perfectly happy with my current broadband price and performance and do not wish it to be messed up.
I do not work for an ISP.
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