back to article Average UK broadband just over half advertised speed

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 …

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  1. mhj
    Thumb Down

    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.

  2. Admiral Grace Hopper
    Flame

    May I be the first to say

    "No shit, Sherlock"?

  3. Mike Fox
    FAIL

    Hm. Average of what?

    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.

  4. Chris 191
    Big Brother

    What a surpise!

    The tories threaten to do away with ofcom and they start doing their job...

  5. Lloyd
    Thumb Down

    Hmmmmm

    And the response from Ofcom "sorry, we don't care, we're mates with the guys that run these companies and that one there took me to El Bulli the other week so he's in my good books, ooh, a new car... for me? You shouldn't have..."

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why can Virgin use the 'up to' clause

    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.

  7. Matt Brigden
    Thumb Up

    lol

    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 .

  8. Soruk
    Thumb Down

    Phone line length...

    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?

  9. Jay 28
    Stop

    Money back?

    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!

  10. Deckchair

    A title is required.

    @ Mike Fox

    Go to BE and ASDL+ and get a decent bandwidth...

  11. Pete 2

    but can we pay "up to" £10 a month?

    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.

  12. Adrian Challinor
    Heart

    To be fair...

    When I moved to O2, they stated quite clearly that I would not get the premium rate, they estimated my top speed, and made my expectations very clear.

    My actual speed sometimes exceeds their estimated speed. It rarely goes much below their speed.

    So why would I complain?

  13. lukewarmdog
    Badgers

    Sad day

    When Virgin is the best ISP in your country.

    I would never suggest BT are underperforming on purpose so they can get an extra 50p off everyone to improve their services but ya kno.

  14. john loader

    Ofcom pathetic

    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

  15. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    RE: What about connection meddling?

    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

  16. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    WTF?

    No kidding eh?

    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.

  17. PaulK
    Pint

    Yawn...

    It's not long ago that twin bonded ISDN was the mutt's maracas. I certainly ain't complaining that I'm getting as much as 5.6Mbps on my BT line. Stop downloading pron and get down the pub.

  18. Graham Wood
    FAIL

    Half the story

    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!

    http://www.samknows.com/broadband/performance.php?page=performance-introduction

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    "guaranteed 2mbps connection with no fair usage crap"

    "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.

    Thanks Ofcom.

  20. EdwardP
    Flame

    FUCKING FINALLY.

    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.

  21. Grease Monkey

    Ofcon and the English Language

    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.

  22. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    Missing the point *again*

    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).

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. Dino
    Thumb Up

    VM's been not bad for me

    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!!..

  25. Joey
    Thumb Up

    VirginMedia

    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.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    throttling

    I generally get 7megs on my 8meg connection (when I test it), unless I want to do something which needs that sort of speed, in which case Orange usually throttle it.

    I can't help thinking that they probably prioritise speed test traffic...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Troll

    the thing is...

    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.

    See?

  28. Scott Mckenzie

    @Adrian Challinor

    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....

  29. Daniel Durrans

    How was the research conducted?

    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.

  30. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Flame

    "Up to"

    I can sympathise with ISP's on this; just because it can doesn't mean it will.

    Moaning that a service doesn't give as advertised is plainly ridiculous when it says "up to". Do these people also complain about their vehicle's fuel consumption being less than it "could be" ?

  31. davefb

    Why don't we go back to the old way then?

    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.. )

  32. Rog69
    FAIL

    No surprises.

    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.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Tiscali

    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!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Shock horror

    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.

  35. Steve X
    Stop

    "Up to" - so what?!

    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.

  36. Bad Fish

    Not the ISPs fault?

    @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...

  37. James 5
    Happy

    Why omit the "less than 2% of market share" companies?

    They are the ones that deliver. Forget the big boys - they're too big to be efficient.

    We use NamesCo and get over 6Mb on our up to 8Mb line and we're 2km away from the exchange in a rural location. No contention issues either...

  38. Thomas Davie
    FAIL

    @ Soruk

    It's not that the blame for your slow line lies on the ISP, it's that the blame for advertising something you can never get lies with them instead. If their connections in reality top out at 6Mb/s, they should be advertising that

  39. Richard IV
    Headmaster

    It's not "up to" that's the problem

    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.

  40. Tony Hoyle

    As usual the wrong target

    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..

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    rural !! what about city center?

    I'm using this free software to test my speeds - www.isposure.com. It appears to test regularly when I'm not using my PC and tells me I get an average of 1.7Mb (SKY). I also use thinkbroadband from time-to-time and it's about the same. I live in a city centre !!

  42. Adrian Jones

    As with @Adrian Challinor and @Scott Mckenzie

    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.

  43. dreadful scathe
    Stop

    user equipment speed decrease

    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.

  44. blackworx
    Megaphone

    VM

    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.

  45. Craig 12
    FAIL

    ITT: not enough gloating

    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...

  46. Pete 2

    To all the ISps' apologists

    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.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm with Crapscali

    Through no choice of my own but I get between 6 and 6.9Mb/s when I run speed tests.

    Not bad I recon. Just depends on where you live really.

  48. JetSetJim Silver badge
    Coat

    Junk report

    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

  49. Frank Bough
    Thumb Up

    Virgin - Another Satisfied Customer

    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.

  50. Joefish
    Thumb Down

    Is this the same Ofcom

    That acted so decisively against services being advertised as 'Unlimited' whilst subjecting the customer to undisclosed limitations?

  51. Deckchair
    Thumb Up

    A Title Is Required

    Both BT and BE quoted estimated line speed when I asked them. BT reckoned around 1 Mb on ADSL and BE around 4Mb on ADSL2+. I get between 4 and 5 now its installed and an far happier than I ever was on Virgin when I was getting 20Mb/s for an hour a day, then 5 for the rest.

    @Bad Fish. Its because BE use ADSL2+, an improved version of ADSL. Nothing to do with BT being crap I'm afraid.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    Move to Greece, or wait for the Olympics

    With the 2004 Olympic games looming and an Internet infrastructure where top speed was 128k ISDN dial-up at a price of several euros per hour, Greece was finally shamed into moving into the 21st century. Once the games were over, all the impressive kit that provided fast communications for the visiting foreign press was going begging, so got released to the rabble and has steadily been built upon (especially by the rivals to the former state owned monopoly).

    My provider was one of the first to implement ADSL2+ and I have been enjoying an "up to 24Mbps" service with actual speed being around 13Mbps - I'm perfectly happy with that.

    The cost is 39.90 Euros per month, but that also includes the phone service with free calls

    to over 40 countries (no time or day restrictions), free call extras such as forwarding to a mobile number, blocking anonymous calls, 100 SMS messages a month and 60 minutes of calls to

    mobiles. There are no limits or caps on the Internet service, I've managed to download 95Gb in a 24 hour period and have no doubt that I could repeat that day after day if I could find sufficient worthwhile material to warrant my attention. My provider isn't the cheapest, but it has better pipes to the rest of the world than most of the others and that is important to me as most of my browsing and downloading is aimed outside of Greece.

    There's plenty here to keep a grumpy old man grumping, but Internet speeds and prices are one area that cannot be faulted, especially when compared to the situation just 5 years ago.

    Real ale. About the only worthwhile reason for occasionally popping back to the UK.

  53. Roger Garner
    Go

    Another Be / ADSL+ happy customer...

    Ignoring their hideous new website Be always stated the speed was an estimate and I happily connect at 20-21Mbit. Which is exactly what they estimated I'd get based on my distance from the exchange.

    The biggest trouble I have is using that amount of bandwidth... I happily download games off Steam at 2Mb/sec but aside from the iPlayer I've yet to discover any (legal!) reason to have this sort of size pipe on a daily basis.

    The average of ~4Mbit is probably more than the average customer needs...

  54. David Hicks
    Flame

    Evil marketing departments again...

    Shock, horror. A best-effort technology that's really a bit of a hack to squeeze more speed out of ancient copper as a stopgap until we get fibre, doesn't always get the fastest possible speed.

    No sh*t, that's how it works.

    The real problem is the way it's been marketed I guess. Myself I understand that when BE say "up to 24 Mbit" it means I'll get what I get. If it connected at much less than the 11-14 I get then I might be a bit disgruntled, but frankly I'm pretty happy even when it is hovering around 50%.

    Where people should, IMHO, be directing their anger is BT who are still dragging their heals over rolling out next-gen infrastructure. We ought to have fiber to the home throughout our cities by now, and be looking to roll it out more widely. We are one of the most densely populated countries on the planet, this should be a no-brainer. Instead we have an old monopoly kicking and screaming and trying deperately to take us back to the 1970s when it was king.

  55. Nigel Wright
    FAIL

    Virgin Media

    Come out of it rather better than they are in reality. I get good speeds with them too - very close to the advertised speed...... UNLESS I WANT TO ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING THAT REQUIRES IT!

    Download a new distro or a large file between 5pm and midnight - the speed just plummets through the floor. Likewise web browsing becomes painfully slow.

    I stick with them only because the alternatives are generally much worse.

    By and large UK ISP suck.

  56. Defiant
    Grenade

    So ?

    If idiots don't check the small print they deserve it

  57. A J Stiles
    Stop

    Simple solution

    Simple solution.

    All the broadband companies have to do is, incorporate a clause into the contract that customers sign, to the effect that all speed tests (except their own) are banned, and discussing any matter relating to connection speeds with anyone is grounds for instant termination. Their own, special, "approved" speed-test software would always report near-maximum speed; but the EULA would prevent you from discovering that it's really just PRINT (MAXSPEED - RND(1) * .1 * MAXSPEED) on pain of instant termination and a lifetime ban from owning anything electronic ever again.

    It's really not much different from what some digital camera manufacturers already do (fit a 2Mpx image sensor, interpolate it up to 8Mpx in the camera's firmware, and slap a restrictive licence agreement on the RAW format decoder to prevent you from discovering this.)

  58. wildmonkeyuk

    waste of taxpayers money

    Another bloody "review" ...

    How much do OFCOM want to waste on stating the bleeding obvious ?

  59. Brian Morrison
    Thumb Down

    Another problem with "Up to 8 Mbps"....

    ....is that even a significant decrease in performance is viewed as acceptable.

    Since my exchange was enabled for MaxDSL in March 2006 I have had a sync speed in the 5-6Mbps range, and a BRAS profile of as high as 5500, up until early February this year.

    Then, just after the heavy snow in February, my connection slowed down to sync at no more than 2.5Mbps, with a typical BRAS profile of 2000, so I have lost about 60% or more of my peak speed. There has been no change to the wiring inside the house, changing filters and cables has not helped at all. Modem diagnostics show that it is the high frequency performance of the pair to the exchange which is at fault, but that doesn't affect the voice service so I can't report it to BT directly.

    Apparently this situation is not viewed as a problem by BT, the fault threshold on my line is set at 1.8Mbps and they will take no action unless the line deteriorates further to below that threshold.

    I find this very frustrating, but cannot do anything to remedy this reduction in performance. BT obviously feel that they have no responsibility for maintaining their network in good order. They clearly don't feel that it is up to them to provide the best service they can rather than one that they don't care about much.

  60. Law
    Thumb Up

    VM

    I feel dirty for saying this... but Virgin Media have been pretty solid since I was forced to them because ADSL sucks in my new area. I get the full 20mb I signed up for, and I'm on the outskirts of town in a villiage where I know the entire street is subscribed to them.

    This is different to my previous experiences with NTL back in like 2005... the throttled speeds when I do hammer my connection rarely come in until after about 8gb of downloading in one go... even then I get about 8mb, and that is 5x quicker than I could hope to get with adsl.

    Now if they can fix their crap V+ boxes I may considering staying with them once my minimum contract ends for the tv/phone/bb bundle... the programming is so bad on those boxes that if you delete the recorded program after a new program has begun recording, it deletes the one above in the list... seriously... it's THAT bad... been with them 5 months, had 3 new tv boxes... sigh.. I miss sky. To their credit though, every time I ring with a new problem the engineer is there within 24 hours.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to upgrade to fibre: scrap copper is worth money

    If your potential ISP is evasive about how to terminated the contract then they expect you will want to go elsewhere after you find out how bad their service really is.

    If your potential ISP's technical support line is a premium rate number, then they consider faults as a revenue stream and you should look elsewhere. (Even BT engineers spend 45 minutes trying to get sense out of their own customer service numbers. For BT it is probably outstanding incompetence rather than greed.)

    If your potential ISP tells you what contention ratio means, and what yours will be then they are far more honest the most other ISP's.

    If you want really cost effective bandwidth, send a box of DVD's through the mail.

    My connection used to by 4Mb/s. Today it is 8: the router's limit. 4 was plenty. Increasing everyone's bandwidth only increases the size of pictures, CSS, javascript, flash and silverlight.

  62. Jon Brindley
    Flame

    VM

    I'm on Virgin's 50meg package. And it flies. So ner ner ner ner! ;)

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Average speed is not half max

    The average speed is not half the maximum speed, as the number of customers increases (approximately) with the square of the distance from the exchange, and I think is at 41% from the radius, hence the average speed is 41% of the maximum,

  64. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Ofcon and the English Language

    "So what don't they understand about "up to 8Mb/s"?"

    Beats me, but its another example of Ofcom (and most of the posters here) picking the wrong fight. "Up to" means "less than". From all the whining here, I think its pretty clear that the ISPs have delivered exactly what they promised on this front. Ofcom must know that they will lose this fight, just as they must know that they could win a fight over the word "unlimited".

    Strange. Almost as though they were /trying/ to be clueless muppets.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I get about 6meg on TalkTalk

    But then I don't do torrenting, iPlayer or other high-bandwidth things much. If you are downloading a bazillion songs a day and are moaning about your connection - then not only are you a thieving turd and a parasite upon humanity; but you are also part of the reason your connection is kack.

    If you want guaranteed connection speed - pay the price.

    There is a also a BT dell-signal isolator thingy you can buy to replace your telephone junction at home. This cuts out the bell wire and vastly reduces noise on the line, thus increasing speed. Only costs about £10 or so.

  66. Myopic Aardvark
    Happy

    Switched to Sky recently...

    Was promised approximately 6Mb connection speed and got said speed (without any mysterious slowdown when downloading HD iPlayer stuff that I got from BT).

    Recently, my download rate has moved from 600kb/s to 1.5Mb/s - which it maintains in the evenings - so Sky are getting me close to their 16Mb connection speed that I'm paying for (even though the line checker tool says my line can still only handle 5.5Mb

    I'm seeing a definite difference these days and enjoying it.

    Happy with my service.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Even in London...

    I still get paltry speeds, caught on the boundary between 2 exchanges in North London (I'm actually on the Pinner exchange) and with long cable length (>5Km I'm told) I have been unable to get more than 2Mb even with an ADSL2+ service from Be. They initially said they didn't want to connect me because I was too far, but I told them to just do it and I accepted that I wasn't going to get very good speed - better ISP than BT anyway!

    Virgin haven't cabled into my road, and the 3G would be no better...

  68. Steve the Cynic
    Thumb Up

    Come, let us speak of ... Lille

    Having moved to near Lille earlier this year, I find myself in a position to gloat, much like the chaps from Dusseldorf and Greece. Using the service offered by the "incumbent", i.e. Orange/France Telecom, I get 12Mb/s out of 20 possible. A couple of months ago, I pulled down the DVD version of Fedora 10. It took an hour or so for 3.5GB, and no slow downs at all, either at the time or after. And a squillion channels of digital TV - the package is the same price with or without the TV decoder and access codes, so why not? ...

  69. Antony Riley
    Boffin

    ISP supplied hardware.

    You know half the problems people have would be fixed if the ISPs didn't give you the most awful ADSL/Cable modems available.

    At least with ADSL you actually control the firmware on your router, with cable modems you are entirely reliant upon your ISP to upgrade the firmware for you.

    I also think there's a tendency for cable modem operators to oversubscribe their networks, worst of all the cable modem is normally completely locked down so you can't even check what speed it's actually connected at (other than by flooding the link with packets).

    I have an ADSL 2+ line, it runs at nearly the top end speeds though with frequent dropouts, I manually configured it to connect at a slower speed, problem solved. Reliability is more important than speed for me, mostly.

    I will never ever subscribe to a cable modem network again unless there is no other choice.

    That's my two cents.

  70. steogede

    Too right

    >> "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.

    A 2mbps connection with a contention ration of 1:1 is going cost a fortune. Even then that only guarantees a 2mbps connection to the ISP, so if the everyone else is downloading pron at the same time, you probably aren't going to be much better off.

    Complaining about the speed of your Internet connection because you live out in the sticks, or you can't get high speeds at peak times is like complaining that traffic is always busy in London - or that you always get stuck in jams on the M25 at 6pm on a Friday.

    Also the whole 'up to' thing - clearly shouldn't be allowed. Until the day when ISPs are forced to survey their network speeds and provide useful metrics (and consumers are wise enough to understand them, i.e. cold day in hell), we are going to be stuck with 'up to'. To be honest I think that the 'up to', be much better if (say) PC World were not allowed to say 'up to 50% off all of our laptops' and were instead required to say 'an average reduction of 2.5% across our entire range of laptops'.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Most Broadband/ADSL customer's......

    I used to be on virgin media, and was ALWAYS able to pull the advertised speed from the likes of newservers. When using online speedtests though the speed was never even close to what the line itself could handle.

    I work for BT Broadband, and deal daily with people complaining about slow speeds.

    The problem is www, there is just too much traffic on it for ANY ISP to guarantee your WEB speed. However, if you connect these customers to a newserver for example, their line can ALWAYS achieve rates on par with their RAS profile (for those who know what that is).

    There are also other factors which stops the customers getting their best possible speed.

    Dodgy internal wiring anyone? Double filtered? Extension bloody cables, the list goes on.

    I am in no way a BT fan, but the fact that they supply broadband to a lot of people in areas that most other ISP's wont even touch make these findings look worse for them. IN my experience, its lack of end user education and bad marketing practises on behalf of the ISP's which is to blame.

  72. Pabs

    On VM

    and get 10Mb, I pay for 10Mb. Only issue is STM, that's the real PITA.

  73. Ian Ferguson

    No surprise

    I bought an 'up to' 20mbit/s service from Wight Cable (the only choice in Cowes) and their own testing tool showed that I was getting a peak of 7mbit/s. So I downgraded to their 8mbit/s package and got exactly the same bandwidth.

    I don't wish to knock Wight Cable though - they're by far the best ISP I've dealt with, customer service wise.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    lol

    Nice article, you just trashed Virgin's contention.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Just moved to BE from BT/Shape over speed.

    Mainly over phorm. Went from 2MBps to 3MBps overnight. More importantly no traffic shaping crap, no limits. So, not spectacular, but I'd rather this than, say 6MBps but with certain (a-herm) downloads throttled to death.

    As another poster commented, we are all professionals. If you've not already, look into your downstream attentuation on your router and check theoretical speeds on one of the many online calculators. If your not within (guess 20%) then you need to change your faceplate, check your bell wire, filters and cable. Then you need to move ISP, move house or get over it :)

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Badgers

    @MHJ

    >> It doesn't matter if Virgin is twice the speed of the others, if you actually use it then it will throttled to death.

    Well that depends. The whole reason they are capable of better speeds is because they throttle higher usages. If you want fast occasional usage then Virgin might be ideal.

    My Sky connection at home will give me a fairly reliable connection of about 4-5 mbps - that is about one 1.8 to 2.2 GB/hour. Yes, it might be nice if I could get the full 3.6 GB/hour, but I can't see a time when I will ever *need* it (at the present moment that is, obviously in the future when we are all doing make HD 3D video calls, 4 mbps probably won't be enough).

    I can remember a time when I never thought that we would be able to get more than 1 mbps over the BT network. The wonders of my 4-5 mbps connection never cease to amaze me - I am astounded every time I manage to use get_iplayer to download an hour long tv program (iphone format) in 6-8 minutes. Perhaps I'm easily impressed.

  77. Ronn1e
    Flame

    ISP'S ARE CRIMINALS

    I've never been happy with my broadband service ever since I've moved to Manchester city centre. I'm less than 1 mile away from the main exchange. Besides the fact that most providers won't provide broadband here the speeds are dog awful.

    I have a choice between BT or SKY pretty much and both are as evil as each other. I pay £30 for a 3mb speed line even though its upto 16mb. Its no where near 16! and they know this but they will not provide a slower line speed with the unlimited download package.

    I've had to argue with support so much to get the latency reduced on the line so I could play online games. First they said you can not get through to a higher level of support if you have latency on games we don't support that. So I rung back and said I had latency on google of 100ms. Got through to tier 3 support and then guess what? they said sorry its only if you get latency on games that we'll change the speed. Pretty mcuh 2 contradicting statements. Very confusing and time wasting. Lower latency also means the connection cuts out a lot more than usual.

    What I've never understood is why do I pay for 16mb when they know its around 3 and I know its around 3? If they can give my next door neighbour 5mb and me 5mb why can I not pay extra and have 10mb mesh network?

    Its all a con which = more money for the isp's because they charge more for connections which their not even providing. Lets have a line where we all get max speed possible and pay by our monthly usage. Or a package that says over 5mb instead of up to 10mb!

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Oliver Jones

    Whereas your access speed is indeed bountiful, I fear your 50 Euros a month (what, about £45 or so, maybe as low as £38 when exchange rates stabilise again) is a fairly hefty price to pay for that.

    I pay £5 per month for my Sky broadband and I get something like 4 Meg which is plenty enough for me.

    If you need the extra bandwidth then I presume the extra cost is worth it, but personally I can find better ways to spend the additional £400-£500 a year.

  79. Shaun Clarke

    No other industry...

    I've been a Telewest / Virgin customer for years, It sickens me that the "fair usage policy" penalises me for using a service I pay for. In my view the answer is simple - OVERSUBSCRIPTION. Providers cannot provide the bandwidth to all their customers on the books - especialy during peak hours - which funnily enough is when most people want to use it - but if I do use it my speeds are restricted by 75% for 5 hours - so not quite unlimited is it.

    Other industries wouldn't get away with this - imagine walking into a pub and the price list stating £2.50 for upto a pint of lager - depending on how busy we are you may only get a half.

    Someone needs to have a word - I feel like I'm being robbed.

  80. Peter Kay

    Speed and equipment

    Another Be user here. Used to have unlimited 512Kb fixed from Zen. Now, I get actual throughput of sustained 7.3Mb down and 1.3Mb up.. (on 'Annex M' providing extra upload speed at the expense of some download).

    I've tried different routers, faceplates and cables. In a newish house about 1.5Km from the exchange the biggest factor turned out to be the cable. Faceplate and router achieved nothing. The cable, on the other hand, achieves a repeatable 1dB change in attenuation, resulting in 600Kb extra throughput on ADSL2+, if I'm lucky.

    The fast upload speed is fantastic for remote access of home servers. Youtube is finally usable. Unix distributions at a megabyte a second, near enough, is bloody amazing. Don't need the speed most of the rest of the time, though.

    I agree that 4Mb is probably more than most people need. Actually, 2Mb is quite probably enough for most purposes, even Youtube and suchlike.

    There is an awful lot of large, free content if you look in the right places though. Free games (genuinely free, not abandonware, check out the indie game creation community. Lots of dross but some decent gems. Mostly Windows only), free software, free music, etc.

  81. Sarah Davis
    Unhappy

    ADSL2+ @ less than 50%

    i have 24Mbit ADSL2+ with BE, and although i only live 1Km from the exchange, and i'm connected directly by 'EO' cable (bypasses the Green street boxes) they can still only get me 11Mbits, less than half the speed i should be getting given the statistics. BE blame come up with everyexcuse you can imagine, BT say they've done all they can, and i just wonder when this country will get decent broadband at a decent price.

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Badgers

    It's quite simple

    ADSL lines are contended. 50:1 usually. In practice though this survey shows that the current average is closer to 2:1. In my book that's a bargain. Tiscali are a network aggregator and ramp the contention until the pips squeak, so they are slower.

    "Fibre" is usually coaxial cable put in ten years ago by the old cable TV companies who after declaring chapter 11 numerous times were eventually bought up by some bearded chap who lives on a narrow boat, using a loan secured by a second mortgage of a Tropical Island.

  83. Gangsta
    WTF?

    Fair?

    I recieve 9.2 mbps all day long on my Virgin Media "Up To 10meg" service.

    So they can deliver speeds, but is it really fair to compare Cable to ADSL. We all know that FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) technology is far superior to the current form of ADSL. This survey could result in the normal public wanting to join Virgin, which results in more oversubscribed UBRs and lower Traffic Management limits, thus a generally reduced service for everyone.

    So my question is, Is it fair to compare Cable to ADSL?

    They're both completely different technologies.

  84. Mark Eccleston
    Gates Horns

    Corrective Billing

    @Soruk

    it is not their fault on the speed that the clients receive, but on how they bill their customers. A signal strength reading from the aDSL gateway will show the max speed the line can offer. as well, the ISP is aware of the speed its customers are connecting with it. If you, as an ISP, can only offer your customer 1Mbps and they are paying you for 8 Mbps that is wrong. The ISP's will gladly sign you up for their top of the line package and provide you the lowest speed, all the while taking your money for their premium service.

    Although you and I are probably well aware of the discrepancy between aDSL speeds ordered and received, most people are not. They happily pay for their 8Mbps service, not realizing they could be paying less than 1/2 of what they currently pay and receive exactly the same speed.

    This is how it is the ISP's fault.

  85. windywoo
    Go

    Cable ftw

    20Mb line and getting about 18 of those Mbs. Virgin+ boxes go wrong all the time, but the broadband is very good. Don't seem to be throttled so easily since they upgraded to 20 from 10.

  86. Brezin Bardout

    Throttling

    ">> It doesn't matter if Virgin is twice the speed of the others, if you actually use it then it will throttled to death.

    Well that depends. The whole reason they are capable of better speeds is because they throttle higher usages. If you want fast occasional usage then Virgin might be ideal."

    That's interesting. Before I moved to Sky, which I find to be a lot better value, my ISP was Virgin. Originally, the ISP I signed up to was Telewest, but when it was taken over by Virgin and they started applying traffic management there was no increase to my download speeds.

    Also, when I moved and foolishly took Virgin ADSL broadband, I would notice quite a drop in my download speeds during peak hours (and not from traffic management), however when I moved to Sky, which are significantly less restrictive about downloading, my download speeds are consistent whatever the time of day.

    Now I know it's a little unfair comparing two ISPs this way, after all I could be the only one with Sky broadband around here (though I doubt it, as cable isn't available here I would assume quite a few would have a Sky package that includes their broadband, and I can't see many having the poor value Virgin ADSL). However, I do wonder just how many people have actually seen any increase to their download speeds at peak times since traffic management became so popular and restrictive.

  87. vergessenmirnicht
    Pirate

    confusing terms

    i am with be b`band, the best i have seen in 3 months is 800kBps, ie kilo BYTES, that translates to 8x800 kBps or 6.4Mbitsps, as there are 8 bits in 1 byte. they advertise the service as 8meg a spurious and confusing abbreviation, when i download a file windows displays the transfer speed in kBps ie kiloBYTES per sec, again confusing , but to translate into Mbits i multiply by 8. the big B is a byte the little b is a bit. 8Mbit equals 1MB. this is the cause of much confusion, and your article does not mention this at all, many of the people commenting are mixing terms, this is not good journalism when all your article does is perpetuate the confusion, and play to the immotive issue of people not getting what they pay for, i know because i have been arguing with be b`band that if i only receive 10% of whats advertised why dont i just pay 10% of bill, my mistake,(thinking that im paying for 8MBps, and only getting 800kBps (6.4Mbitps service) helped by the muddy waters of the media.

  88. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Re: I live in city centre

    Me too, and I get typically 0.7Mb most of the time. FFS

  89. Michael Downie

    ISP Banality

    I'm on Virgin Media "Nationwide" (ADSL) and I can quite comfortably say, having worked for three different ADSL providers and now working for a Mobile Broadband provider, the service they offer is the worst I have ever experienced. Their customer services and importantly, their tech support are awful. I can spit on my local exchange from where I live. Literally, its across the street. Samknows shows I'm 10metres from the exchange, obviously ADSL estimates are a sync of 8128.

    The problem I have with VM is that i get a throughput of 1890kbps... persistently. I've checked with virgin, i'm not breaching fair use, i'm not being traffic shaped and beyond that, all they will say to me is:

    "test in the test socket"

    "change filters"

    "swap router"

    All of which I did the first time I had an issue. All of the tech agents I've spoken to admit that there must be an external problem but say they cant do anything because BTW wont touch it, because its over 1meg. Which to be fair, thats a massive crock. When I worked for BT retail, I got problems like that through with Wholesale all the time. I actually got the problem sorted myself, by calling BTW directly and passing validation as a tech support agent to get it sorted.

    As soon as I can i'm making the switch to sky or BE

  90. Jon Jardine
    FAIL

    German Experience...

    I moved to Berlin last year. I've got VDSL25 with Deutsche Telekom - it costs 60€ a month, but that includes the line rental, free calls to landlines anywhere in Europe, router, IPTV box (with around 100 channels delivered by IPTV) etc.

    I get 23+Mb down, 4.5+Mb up pretty consistently; there's no traffic shaping, throttling or peak hours restrictions and they're quite happy for you to run a home server if you want (the router has built-in support for dyndns.org and other services, not that my IP address seems to change anyway).

    Glad I'm not in the UK anymore :-)

  91. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Just for comparison...

    According to http://www.speedtest.net/ the speed provided by ISPs looks considerably faster in places such as Ukraine and Russia. Wonder what's the trick, if there is any...

  92. Tom 106
    Grenade

    the point is

    The way the ISP's sell the broadband connection to the consumer, and not what is causing or afflicting a less than advertised "upto" broadband connection.

    Firstly, I do believe ISP's have now been instructed to inform the consumer before point of purchase as to what the max available connection will be on their copper line to their exchange. Therefore, if a consumer resides 2km away from their exchange, an ISP should be informing the consumer that their line tests for a max speed of say 5.2mb, (this is not an accurate figure, but one used for hypothetical reasons).

    It may well be that different ISP's will give different results for the same line connection to the exchange, but then this could be due to a number of reasons, hence why the consumer should shop around first.

    More importantly the ISP's ought to offer a reduction in price to those consumers who do not receive the full available bandwidth. Meaning those consumers who only receive 25% of the available advertised "upto" bandwidth, should only pay 25% of the price advertised. It's simple enough to carry through, because the ISP has already checked the lines bandwidth potential.

    Which brings into practise a much fairer system for paying for a broadband connection. The only losers in this equation are the ISP's, because they wont have the same amount of income unless they vastly increase the prices for broadband, and if they do, then the likes of VM, O2, Be etc, take up more of a market share.

    O2 are offering up to a 16meg connection for a price of around £15.00, which isn't a great deal of cash, so those who are currently on a contract with an ISP of "upto" 8mb whilst paying in the region of anywhere between £10-£20, and only receiving an average of say 2mb-4mb, would simply double that amount of bandwidth, (if not getting more) and save money by simply changing ISP.

    It pays to shop around first, and to continue looking around all the time, and contacting your ISP, to let them know you have found a better deal elsewhere. (especially if your ISP caps).

    Finally, my connection is http://www.speedtest.net/result/526969218.png

  93. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    hmmm .... well ..

    .... I suspect that its all down to over supscription of the services supplied ?

    Peace

    K.

  94. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Happy as Larry

    I'm with TalkTalk: a few months ago I was getting a fairly flakey 3Mbps. I was advised by Tech Support to get a newer ADSL+ compatible router, got me a secondhand DG834 v3 from eBay, and things have been a lot more stable. Also I've recently noticed the speed has slowly inched it's way up to a very pleasing 6Mbps+.

  95. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Well thank you Offcom

    Have you just woken up?

  96. Peter Kay

    @Sarah Davis

    Be aren't exactly expensive, though, are they? 11Mb isn't slow, either! You are paying for a premium consumer connection - if really bothered about price you could save money going to O2, Sky or 8Mb Be.

    Whilst I'm rather grateful for a nice fast Be connection, frankly 512Kb was better than the bonded ISDN I had beforehand. Paying 24 quid a month to Be is vastly less than 40-60 quid a month for single channel ISDN with occasional bonding, and somewhat better than the 23 quid a month I was paying to Zen for 512Kb unlimited.

    Then again, I did decide that living somewhere next to the countryside was more important than Internet access, and have never regretted it.

    Maybe because I started out on modems, I still look at 1MB/s transfers and think 'wheeeeee!'

  97. masterpikey

    re: May I be the first to say

    then keep digging watson

  98. James 136

    Proposal for Ofcom

    Now that we've got this monitoring hardware in people's home's why not use it to adjust billing.

    Simply adjust the user's bill based on the percentage of their theoretical maximum which was actually available to them, including the effect of any outages or downtime. Obviously this would have to be accompanied by an initial price rise, if ISPs had to charge honestly at current rates it'd bankrupt them, but once any shortfall or outage had a financial penalty then it'd introduce a competitive advantage to companies who could improve their rates (by reducing contention) or provide a more reliable service.

  99. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    I'd love to move to Be....

    But I get:

    Sorry, but your phone line is unable to support our broadband. Please contact your telephone provider if you require further details.

    when I do a line check, I live on the outskirts of Basingstoke, not "rural" by any stretch of the imiagination

  100. Richard 120
    Flame

    Ripoff

    Ok, I can believe if you're going for a high bandwidth option you're not likely to hit the limit because the line's not perfect, but why is it when you're not paying for a premium, in fact you're paying for a basic 2Mbit line the best you'll ever get is about 650kbit more likely most of the time you're getting 300kbit. If you pay for the premium line you get well over the 2Mbit so you know it's capable. The throttling is bullshit, basically theft.

  101. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Ian Ferguson

    I'm on Wight Cable too.

    Shifted from a hopeless (and Phormed) BT ADSL service to WC's 8MBit WiMax service.

    Don't get 8MBits, I'm sorry to say. I get *10MBits*

    An ISP that delivers faster speeds than they advertise? Go figure it!

    As to their customer service, well, "quaint" would be the best description, but at least its someone you can understand (hell, even the dialect is the same as mine) and doesn't insist on going through the same tedious "tick" sheet every time you call, and they *do* get things sorted when problems occur.

  102. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It's a question of bottlenecks..

    If the line conditions are good enough, then the next bottleneck along is the ISP. You could easily see much lower speeds with Tiscali..

    I'm on ADSL 2+, BT's own estimates say that my line should do 11 meg. With a fairly noise-tolerant DG834 router, and clean wiring in the premises, I can screw the signal to noise ratio pretty hard, giving me a reliable 17.something meg connection, which reliably manages a comfortable 1.7 megabytes/sec download (via Demon).

    So far so good. However, I did have to do a little bit of arsing about, for this speed, originally, I was getting about 9 megs from this connection.

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    o2

    Was always giving out the estimated figure before ofcom rules on giving the estimate rather than the package headline speed, granted i work for them so your milage may differ.

    And it is truley unlimted usage. and yes a lot of problems are caused by really shitty internal wiring or jusy plain wrong setups in the home unfiltered inputs/cheap wiring and some really screwed intial BT installs.

    Lots of things outside of ISPs control can really screw up the connection or the BT line length database having really out of date info in it.

  104. The Avangelist
    Thumb Down

    why is this suddenly news?

    We have known this for the best part of a decade. The infrastructure is not in place within the UK to cope with data travelling down copper other than phone communications.

    That is the whole point of the 21CN network install which is due to finish 2012 (cite req). Until we have fibre optic door to door (never gonna happen) we wont get decent download speeds because we are all sharing lines to the boxes and boxes to the exchange.

    I live 262yrds from exchange exactly, I have never got a decent connection regardless of provider. What is in the ground is toilet, and there's nothing we can do with that.

    The only thing that will result from any mass-debate will be that providers will have to change their advertising regulation to not specify 'speeds up to' anywhere on their marketing materials. Complete waste of a conversation.

  105. The Avangelist

    oh and I forgot to mention

    It don't mean diddly what you have going in and out of your house because you have no idea what is on the end of the cable to the server you are trying to connect to, whether it is a media service, website, torrent whatever, if they have only got a 512k upstream you aren't going to be getting any faster are you.

  106. I didn't do IT.
    Happy

    Business class

    Does the UK have anything analogous to a business class service? Or is such a service disallowed to a "home" address?

    I am paying roughly £40 for 20Mb up, 5Mb down (admittedly in the US). Isn't there something similar for UK? I had similar "home" class service (both pricing and speeds) and it blew. Since I utilized this "silent upgrade", my service has not been throttled, and I am averaging 2.3 Mb/s. Serving business and personal website have no issues even when viewing HD movies and TV online.

    Frankly, I am more than happy to pay the "extra" for the excellent customer service (12 hour turnaround onsite tech, helpful and courteous help desk, and non-agressive billing support call center), all without any indication of traffic shaping or "fair" usage limits. And it's cable (gasp!).

    Surely, if yanks can get this in the "country", brits can too? Or is this something they don't like to bandy about?

  107. MinionZero
    FAIL

    Sadly, we have much further to fall...

    As Virgin can manage higher average speeds compared to other ISPs, then that proves the excuse of distance from ISP is often a lie. Other ISPs can do better but they would sooner lie to customers rather than increase their data rates. Yet Ofcom and the Government sit back and do nothing to stop them lying. Meanwhile the UK is falling ever more behind other countries. What a surprise.

    Any new business that relies on high bandwidth will be at a serious disadvantage in the UK. Other countries must be loving the opportunity being handed to them by the UK corruption, greed and incompetence.

    As for the jaw droopingly pathetic UK government target of 2Mbits by 2012, it looks like we have much further to fall.

  108. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    The groweth evermore?

    Financiers

    Bankers

    Accountants

    MPs

    Members of the Lords

    Civil Servants

    Ofcom

    .

    .

    .

    ISPs

    Are we predicting a pattern here? (SPSS not needed)

  109. Rab Sssss
    Flame

    @MinionZero

    carves "cable and ADSL are not the same" on cluebat.

    Stop embarssing yourself you numbnuts...

  110. Steve Evans

    Local loop...

    I don't need to do the speed test to check my speed. Any download I do gets 2Mbs and no more, and that is because that's as fast as my modem will sync to the exchange.

    I'm on the outskirts of the M25 in Essex. I spent several years at 1Mbs because I couldn't get upgraded. Changed ISP and got to the current dizzying heights. My signal to noise is not going to let me get any more.

    I have run my own high quality twisted pair from the BT box on the front wall. It goes into an active filter that splits the ADSL from the rest of the phone sockets under the stairs with my router and a CAT5 feeding onto my LAN.

    Different routers have made very little difference, although I must say my current £25 ZyXel P-660R is probably the most stable.

    I can do no more to take advantage of my "up to 8meg" package. Just sit and use a maximum of 25% of it. Although I'm sure if I do that I'd get capped!

  111. Peter Kay

    @'As virgin can manage higher average speeds'

    You do realise Virgin are a cable company, using coax to the home, instead of ADSL/ADSL2+ over a copper wire pair? The two technologies are not comparable..

  112. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Hello, subscriber!

    We were wondering if you'd like to upgrade your broadband package from "lots" to "oodles and oodles"?

    Why should I? You can't actually even supply "lots". How about you upgrade from "what I'm getting" to "what I'm paying for"?

    <click>

  113. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Unlimited @ whatever speed

    nuff said

  114. MTB

    Download speeds

    You suggest that rural download speeds are on average 3.3Mb/s; here in South Herefordshire I would be happy with 0.3Mb/s! BT claim that my service is capable of 1Mb/s but I never achieve better than 120Kb/s for a true download.

    Why should we pay the same tariff for such an inferior service? If the infrastructure cannot supply, we should pay pro rata.

    I have spent hours in fruitless discussions with the BT technicians on the Indian sub-continent, and have, for several weeks, been waiting for a response from the BT "UK Assist" team, to no avail.

    I find it interesting that other ISPs can supply a better service. Down BTs lines? How do they do it?

  115. Another Anonymous Coward 1

    @MTB

    You sure you aren't mistaking bits and bytes there?

    A 1 Mbit line would generally result in 120 kb/s download, it's another annoying thing about ISP advertising, the exaggeration of speed by using bits when the majority of people only understand megabytes, gigabytes etc. Divide by 8 to convert the headline speeds into what you'll see in the download bar.

    Would be better if Ofcom forced the ISPs to measure speed in kilobytes or megabytes per second.

    Posted from a 20mbs virgin line... I get the full speed, and don't have a problem with capping, the process is transparent and listed on their website in a table.

    After 9pm there's no throttling, so it's fine as far as leaving big downloads overnight goes.

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