What about connection meddling?
It doesn't matter if Virgin is twice the speed of the others, if you actually use it then it will throttled to death.
The average downstream speed received by UK households is just 57 per cent of the average advertised rate, according to Ofcom research. Data from the regulator's hardware-based performance monitoring network shows that while the average broadband package is sold as "up to" 7.1Mbit/s, it actually delivers 4.1Mbit/s. The UK …
Where I live, the exchange is 4.9KM away and i'm on the boundary of Sheffield.
The max speed I get is 1.1MBit a sec and BT say I should get 2, although i'm on Sky and the max they can thrown down the line is 1.4 and it falls over all the time.
So, besides waiting for FTTC, I get the feeling the area which I live in is going to have slow ADSL for a while to come, with no choice as we get hardly any 3G signal and no cable.
I understand why ADSL providers can specify the 'up to' clause as they have no control over the so called 'last mile' of cable into the home but with Virgin Media, the entire network, including the 'final mile' (which is copper, not optic fibre) is under their control. If the line into the home cannot support the advertised speed, it is VM's responsibility to rectify it.
I've recently left VM, I was on the 20MBit connection and would only receive those speeds in the early hours of the morning. After work, speeds would drop to less than half a megabit. This is testing speeds from VM's servers over VM's network. VM's solution was to just keep replacing the cable modem hoping I would get fed up and leave them alone. I did get fed up and left them. VM use the 'up to' clause to massively oversubscribe the UBR's and then say it's out of our control, we do say you'll receive 'up to' 20Mbit.
I'm now with TalkTalk and have added their 'speed boost' addon and am receiving 15-16Mbit all day and night! Now they have kicked Phorm out of bed, I'm more than happy to stay with them.
Even ofcom are incapable of doing the figures . I'm on Orange and part of the sam knows hardware monitoring project. My speed 6.5mbps . My line sync is 8096kbps from a possible 10368kbps . Not too shabby for a non Adsl2+ line really .
The problem is the lines used for adsl are too old and susceptible to all sorts of interference. Fibre optic is better well now theres a shocker ......
Whats seriously out of kilter is peoples perceptions . Most people failed to notice the "upto" bit usually written in a tiny font when they signed up so when their 8mbps line only gives them 3mbps or less they get peeved .
Caveat Emptor - Always check what you are likely to get first . Then you won't have a hissy fit later .
I heard this story on the radio this morning, and all the while the blame for poor performance has been put at the ISP, not the technology or the line length. No matter how good your provider, if you're on ADSL and your line length is a good few miles you will never get a fast connection. How that can be the ISP's fault (other than BT) when they don't supply the phone wire?
The odd small slow down is understandable due to contention etc, but in most cases customers are NEVER getting the full advertised rate.
So then, if you're only getting say an average of 70% advertised speed, why don't you get a 30% discount on your bill?
For any other commodity, if I were to order 100 units, and the supplier could only give me 80, I wouldn't be expecting to pay for the 20 that I'm not getting!
Borrow long, lend short. Thus goes an old "city" adage as the way to make money. Maybe this should be revised for the internet age as "advertise long, sell short". Being the lucky recipient of an "up to 16MBit/s" internet connection and being cursed with an inquisitive mind and a feeling that it never actually lived up to what I was paying for, I long ago started monitoring what I, personally, got from my ISP.
The results are, err. interesting.
The best I ever get is 14.4MBit/sec and a latency to the ISPs first system of around 26mSec.However this is interspersed with periods where the service is up and down like the proverbial - sometimes for days on end and frequently at weekends. (Whether due to higher loads, or lack of weekend cover, or that's when they choose to break: sorry: upgrade, things I cannot say). I also get more prolonged periods where the speed drops to 3 - 4 MBit/sec ever since the ISP decided to start "managing" the connection.
However, during all these ups and downs, high speeds and low speeds (and no-speeds) the one thing that it surprisingly constant is the fee the ISP sucks out of my bank account every month. Now I realise that their costs are pretty much fixed: 'puters, hell-desk, buildings, desks etc. but it would be nice if there was just the faintest glimmer of paying-for-what-you-get in this whole ISP shenannigans, rather than being sold short.
I listened to teh interview with the head of Ofcom today - all talk no action, denies the rest of the world are better at it than the UK. And the figures used were doctored to be as if there was no line distance lag - real amounts would have been far less. I'm on 1.4Mb/s today, way up on my usual 700-900k due to distance from the exchange. Who cares which ISP I use, none of them can offer me high speeds and Ofcom will (costing us a bomb) continue to dither and procrastinate whilst the rest of teh world shows how broadband should be done
Exactly who cares what speed the connection is if your not allowed to use it anyway because of a "Fair Usage Policy" on a "UNLIMITED" connection.
I would rather they where all honest and said sorry we can't supply a 16mbps connection "UNLIMITED" but you can have a guaranteed 2mbps connection with no fair usage crap.
If we could judge all the ISP offers by speed and real "UNLIMITED" for that speed we may be able to make a proper informed choice about the provider without having to read the fair usage policy document with its "we may" and "reserve the right" based on some flexible network management policy.
In conclusion regulate there asses properly
That we don't get the full 8 meg. Well Duh!
Until there is Fibre to the green box in your street then that is about as mush as you are going to get especially if you are more than 1km from the Exchange. I don't think the Fibre will get much further than that in my lifetime.
And Virgin Media? Well that shows down to a virtual standstill in my area every evening. So much so, the kids next door piggback onto my WLan (with my permission) to get decent surfing speeds.
There is nothing really new in this report. In fact most of the UK Computer mags could have written it themselves from the articles they have published over the past year.
Whilst the headline figures are important, OFCOM (and, it seems, El-Reg's coverage of it) misses probably the most important factor of the connection speed.
Even if you get an 8.7Mb/s connection to the ISP, if they've over-sold their upstream bandwidth you aren't going to get that. I know people on Virgin that are lucky to get the equivalent of 200Kb/s rather than 8Mb/s. Their "link speed" is still stupidly high, it's just that Virgin's internal network can't handle it.
BT have a similar problem (as reported on here) with the iPlayer specifically - access is capped.
Therefore, OFCOM really should look at something like the samknows checks instead of just the pretty numbers.... And to make it worse, they were involved!
"you can have a guaranteed 2mbps connection with no fair usage crap."
There are ISPs that will do that, even outside of LLU areas. You probably won't have heard of them, and you almost certainly won't like the price. Leechers are not welcome these days, and even frequent iPlayer users are looking like an endangered species.
Prior to BTw introducing "capacity based charging" a 2Mb line was typically £40 a month to the end user, with truly unlimited usage. A 512k line would be rather less. The dominant factor in the price was the "last mile" line rental, not the interconnect bandwidth (the "Centrals") between ISP and BT.
Then BTw propose their "capacity based charging" which makes the "line rental" independent of speed, but massively increases the cost of interconnect between ISP and BTw. This inevitably leads to a certain amount of unhappiness among people who can see where it's leading, but Ofcon being clueless let it go right ahead, and the result is of course "traffic management" on cheap tariffs or ridiculous prices on truly "unlimited" tariffs.
This is exactly what Ofcom is for. They know they're for the chop and have decided start doing the job they were originally created to do.
Regulators need to be aggressive, they cannot take the "working with" the company stance, they can't consider the companies in market they regulate "clients" or "customers". They are there to weild the big stick and protect the consumer, not to work with marketing deptartments to make sure their lies have the small print required to make them legal.
There can be no more accepting money from the companies they're supposed to be overseeing, because in the private sector it's called bribery.
Also somebody explain exactly what the fuck they need branded water/mousemats etc for...
Fuck em, get rid of the useless bastards. Too little too late.
So what don't they understand about "up to 8Mb/s"?
If they sold you broadband as "8Mb/s" and you got 4Mb/s then you'd be understandably pissed off. However if they sold it as "up to 8Mb/s" then I don't see the problem.
How did Ofcon come up with their figures? Did they take a small sample of customers?
Are they actual line speeds or are they tested download speeds?
I get a rock solid 8Mb from BT with no sign of any contention problems. However neighbours with IPStream providers (the only other option on our exchange) report that while their routers report 8Mb/s their download speeds are generally well below half that. This is a continual problem with many BT IPStream providers: massive contention on their lines into BT Central. So they may be cheaper than many of the big boys, you may see the same ADSL line speed, but your download speed is limitted by the fact that your ISP won't buy enough bandwidth into BT Central.
All in all we need more regulation. It's fine advertising "up to" so many Mb/s, but when you sign up you should be signing for a particular tested bandwidth. Equally there should be some sort of regulation on tested download speeds.
The issue here isn't the speed you *can* get *sometimes*. The issue is the speed you get when you *want* it.
Its all very well saying Joe Average gets 3.3Mbits, but if he's only getting (and from bitter experience with BT) <256KBits at "peak" times (I.e, when he *wants* it) then his usable speed is only 256KBits, which is next to useless for anything but basic web browsing and email.
I know you only get what you pay for, but ISPs should be compelled to lay out exactly what you *are* paying for *before* you sign up.( I.e both the maximum and *minimum* speeds you can expect as well as AUPs and throttling regimes that are used on that service).
I have to say I've had VM in the past 8 years in 4 diff counties.. It's speed has always been where it's supposed to be... - throttling offcourse not good but for the mo the 50 Mb platform has no throttling...
Even the 50 M clocked in at 52 Mb .. !! the engineer when he came noted some signal degradation from house to DS and replaced/inspected all the cable ends ...
but he was still surprised the connection was operating at over 50 ... he hadn't seen 50 on any install!!..
I get a pretty decent speed out of Virgin, about 15Mb/s on downloads, unless I download a large file in which case the speed decreases as the download progresses. What I am more concerned about is the upload speed as I often have to upload large files to my server, and that is pretty slow.
There are millions of people out there who have lives and so don't give a flinging monkey poo what their broadband speed is like. The government realise this, ofcom realise this and so do the ISPs. You guys might be all militant but you still have to buy the shitty service because there is no alternative and you know it. In an ideal world blah blah blah blah; you're still the ISP's bitch though.
Now if all the geeks got together and formed a collective who changed ISP to whichever didn't throttle, didn't use Phorm, had good techie customer service... the ISPs would still ignore you because they cater to the hundreds of thousands of retards who want to go on the Sun website and are happy to pay the same as the few thousand nerds who want to rock the shit out of their network.
I have exactly the same from their other company, namely Be, they tested my line, said i'd get 21Mbps, and i do.... it rarely drops below it and as per your experiences, often exceeds it....
Honest isn't an issue at all, if they said - you'll get 'x' most people would be ok with it, but when they lie it is a bit pathetic.
As for Virgin, they don't exactly throttle it the second you use it - for the average person it's an excellent service and the throttling again helps the average person.... downloading a few MP3/iTunes albums per night is a lot over time, streaming a film etc and even the 10Mb service is more than sufficient in my experience (girlfriend and father use it) If you spank the internet, don't get Virgin... or use some sort of scheduling to download during the night when you won't be throttled....
Up to 10Mbps from where to where? From my computer to the ISP? From my computer to OfCOM? From my computer to a server connected to the net at 2Mbps somewhere on the island of Aruba?
The problem is not the marketing bullshit which is totally accurate. You will get UP TO 8Mbps or UP TO 10Mbps. The problem is the public understanding of how the technology and for that matter the internet works. If you have a 1Gbps line connected directly into LINX you need to be very methodical in your speed testing before you start complaining you aren't getting your full 1Gbps.
when BT wouldn't certify lines for 8mb, if they couldn't do 8mb..
so yay , everyone gets 2mb..
is that *really* what we want?
( on virgin and generally get my 10mb frankly it's almost always websites that are my connection bugbear , the problem seemingly to stupid adverts and the time taken accessing all their sites.. )
No surprises really except I thought the average speed would be lower still. I would be interested to know if it is actually possible to get 8meg from any exchange, as an experiment I found out the postcode for mine and entered it in the BT availability checker and found that even if I lived inside my 8meg exchange I could only get a 6 meg connection.
I'd love to know where the Tiscali customers are that get 3.2 - 3.7 mbit/s.
Probably not Cardiff, where 3 of us unfortunate enough to choose Tiscali got speeds that would shame a 56k modem at peak times, frequent drop-outs and for myself, driven insane by having to "go and reset the router" every time I used YouTube or iPlayer.
We all switch ISP and hey presto, our problems disappear overnight. So it wasn't the router, wasn't the computer, wasn't the phone line, wasn't the cables, wasn't the microfilter.. it was good ol' Tiscali.
But they still had the worst figures of all the ISPs listed, so well done, chumps!
for those of you that understand contention, Rate adaptive serivces, ADSL max, and generally how shit works - well done.
everyone else - http://www.google.com. Do some research.
the services are advertised as "Up to". like my car can do "up to 140mph", but restrictions such as road quality, traffic, the police etc mean i can only get to a certain speed most of the time. You are not "paying for 8 meg baw baw baw QQ" you are paying for a rate adaptive service, it`ll go as fast as it can based on your phone line.
what you SHOULD be concerned about, apart from Phorm, thottling, p2p restrictions, terrorism™ etc, is the fact that the contracts you signed state that your ISP dont even guarantee the service will even work.
What's the problem here? The ISPs know what their equipment is capable of, at best. The actual speed you'll get is limited by the length and condition of the wires to your home, which they can't know until they try the connection.
Advertising "Up to" a given speed, with actual speed determined on test, is a perfectly reasonable approach.
Nor surprise that it's worse in rural areas. The defintion of rural is, after all, "not in a city". If you want to live far away from a service supplier, you get worse service. Sheesh, you don't need a PhD to work that out!
This is just the same sort of whinging we get from people who move to live in the country, then moan when they get woken by cock-crow at 5am, and their car gets covered in cow shit when they drive home. If you want city benefits, live in a city.
I live in a rural area. We finally got broadband a few years ago, and I get 2Mbit/s max on an "up to 16Mbit/s" service. I don't complain, it's better & cheaper than the ISDN I had before, and it's more than offset by the other advantages of living surrounded by green fields and clean air.
And, by the way, I'm not in the UK. The UK is no worse then most of the EU, no matter what the "grass is greener" tabloids would have you believe.
@Soruk: if you think the slow connection is due to line length, try changing your ISP to BE. I did, and now I get 12 meg over the exact same piece of wire that could only manage about 4 meg with my previous ISP.
When BT isn't involved, things just mysteriously seem to improve...
It's that there's no "from" at the bottom end. It reminds me of the tactic adopted by BT way back in the dial up days of only guaranteeing 22 kbps or so so that they could give customers an "extra" line by splitting the existing one while still meeting their connectivity obligations.
Most people are sensible enough to (eventually) realise that the top quoted speed is dependent on a following wind and their packets running downhill. What is needed is some way of formulating the rules so that ISPs are made to quote what one's normal speed range will be for (say) 90% of the time. And not to have the speed range look like a random guess: 0-8Mbps is not acceptable - 4-5Mbps probably is.
Consistency of connection speed is a lot more important than the maximum - the sooner the ISPs lose the weasel tactic of drastically reducing speeds in busy times because they've sold more bandwidth than they actually have, the better. Some reduction is to be expected but some of them have been taking the piss for years.
No mention of how much the internal wiring can affect line speed. This knowledge alone could help vast numbers of people.
No mention at all of the way some ISPs throttle connections (Virgin are the worst for this) and that some can't even achieve line speed during peak times due to massive overselling.. in fact this is so common some people accept it as normal.
If BT need to be taken to task it's for being slow to diagnose faults and quick to close issues as 'end user' problems. ISPs need to take the blame for not pushing BT on this.
No mention of how false advertising is rampant with 'unlimited' fast becoming the most abused word in the english language.
No mention of how, with a few notable exceptions, customer support is nonexistant at the average ISP.
People are being trained to expect crap service and told that their faults can't be fixed and when their line drops out 5 times a day it's 'normal'. and Ofcom's response? To make an issue of the words 'up to'. Jeez...
(and no, none of the above are 'normal' or even acceptable. I get full line speed 24/7 and the line drops only when I tell to.. and if it drops any other time I'm onto my ISP - who give me a curteous and helpful response, often diagnosing problems long before I even notice the issue. They make no claims of 'unlimited' and tell me exactly how much I've used any time I like, don't throttle, don't censor and generally make some of these ISPs look like total amateurs).
I mean, when Virgin of all people are held up as 'best' you *know* they've lost the plot..
When I registered with Be (before they upgraded my exchange) they estimated that I'd get 8Mb/s at my address, out of 24Mb/s. Since I was paying more at the time for .5Mb/s I was happy with that.
In fact I get nearer 10Mb/s. If they hadn't been up front, I wouldn't have gone with them.
Perhaps there should be a sliding scale of charges. The closer to the quoted speed you get, the more of the monthly charge you pay.
Now i do understand that not everyone has the same experience, but my Virgin Media 20mbps service does get very close to exactly what is advertised (about 19.2 or so) this is with the old cable modem I got from them, the new cable modem I got on moving house is clearly not as good, the speed drops to about 18.6. Add a router and speed drops again etc...simply put, there is a slight speed loss on your side of the network from everything. As the report states that the testing hardware was added "direct to the router (see section 4.7)" there will be a substantial drop in performance from both cable modem and router, whether this is a substantially bigger drop than the performance drop for an all-in-one adsl/router/modem supplied with non-cable isps, i don't know, but it will certainly differ by equipment. This also means that virgin dont have much to answer for here without this being taken into account, compared to adsl which struggles to be much more than half as fast as advertised. Some of the VM complainers may well disagree from personal experience, but the report does show 80-90% of full speed for VM. It appears VM should not even be on a comparison list being as borderline as they are - they are as much off their advertised speed as Hard Drives manaufacturers are off their advertised capacity - not close to half the advertised capacity...so the issue really is with adsl generally and its downright lie of "up to 8mbps". No I am no Virgin Media fanboy (let me tell you about my horrific set-up story over a period of 8 months) but I don't think they have the same case to answer.
Last time I had a decent ISP was Pipex before they went hell for leather to fatten themselves up prior to the Tiscali buyout.
Currently with VM's 20MB and it is a pile of wank. I have the bad fortune to live in what their field engineers refer to as a "black" area (i.e. one populated by people who spend their entire time on Skype to their grannies in Poland and never pay their fucking bills) which means no investment in capacity and no FTTC. Plus, as previous posters have said, you get a decent speed (sometimes) until you actually decide to use it. Pish.
We're all IT pros right? I can't believe you lot with your sucky 'average' net connections. I pay for 16mb, I get 16mb. I researched, improved everything I could, and yes, when moving house it was a little factor as well.
With ADSL, get yourself some decent wires/filters, a better modem/router, and change the master faceplate - all that will add a few mb no doubt to your speeds...
OK, we all know that when we sign up for an "up to ..." we're handing the ISPs a get-out clause on a plate. However when you look at it from a value or resources used perspective, their position changes a lot.
Think of 2 customers who live near to each other, with the same ISP and on the same tarriff. One has a nice, new phone line whereas they other has one that's connected to the local exchange with rusted up screws and corroded cables. The lucky first punter gets close to the "up to " speed - say 7MBit/sec on an "up to 8Mbit/sec" promise, . The other one gets, maybe 1.5MBit/sec.
Now the uncaring, dog-eat-dog attitude would be "well, the slow one could always change" or "well, the ISP's small print doesn't promise anything better" or "I'm all right, Jack. Why should I worry about other people's slow lines - look at me: I'm getting 100Mbit down my optical link" or a ton of other similar comments. However, from a value for money viewpoint the slow user is not getting the same service that the fast one gets - even though they're paying the same. neither are they using the same proportion of the ISPs resources - so they're in effect subsidising the fast users (or being exploited - depending on how extreme a position you want to take).
The point about Ofcom, that they have utterly failed to comprehend, or address, is the asymmetric nature of the power-balance in these situations. The ISPs have it all, and the customers have none - just the random situation: good or bad, that factors outside their control have conspired to place them in. Ofcom should be using their position to rebalance or even regulate the nature of the supplier-customer relationship, maybe with rules, maybe with a large stick - if a "quiet word" doesn't do the trick. A very good way to shift the balance of power would be to require ISPs to either remove the "up to .." clause, which predicates all their selling and price structures, or to require a metering system where customers pay for what they get, or what they use. Since Ofcom are intent to do neither, they have no worth and should be replaced with a regulator who actually plays for the side they're supposed to be on.
Reading the annexes in the full report shows that they've only tested HTTP over port 80 so they're unlikely to encounter the traffic shaping speed bumps that most ISPs use. I live 500m from my local green box, which is 150m from the main exchange (albeit in a village in the sticks) and my "8mbps" service won't stream or download the BBC iPlayer content (streaming needs 0.5mbps), and YouTube is fairly unusable - all this despite a swathe of speed testing sites reporting 3mbps+. One interesting test was at ThinkBroadband, though, which reported 200kbps.....
Time to move from Shitscali, methinks
Despite some of the comments above, I get EXACTLY what Virgin promised me - I pay for 10Mbps and that's what I get (1.22 MB/sec downstream). Granted, in the early evening there are often contention issues, but I knew about the contention ratio when I signed up. Oh, and we've suffered about half a day's worth of downtime in 4 years.
Sure, I'd love 100Mbps for £10 a month, but I'm not a child and therefore understand that all that bandwidth actually costs money to build out and service.
If you want the best pornband, choose the company with the most modern network infrastructure.
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