back to article British broadband is confusing and speeds are crap, says survey

Four in five Britons has experienced broadband molasses in the past year and most of us are also "bamboozled" by the terms that telcos use to peddle their wares at us, according to a survey. Just one in five, meanwhile, would change network to escape from crap internet speeds, says survey purveyor uSwitch, a price comparison …

  1. Joe Werner

    Webpages that crash

    Well, that might be partly due to the connection speed, but mostly it is the mobification and scriptification of the websites. A website that pulls in scripts from two dozen sources to just display the frontpage of whatever is slow and annoying (plus the layout is now for mobile devices, even if there is an app, and to see anything interesting you have to scroll past the full width banner with some f'ing slideshow of stupid irrelevant pictures, which again eats resources and data like crazy, and then there are more full width and full pc-screen height banners down there).

    Sorry - yes, I'm annoyed, why do you ask? But yes, connection speed is of course the main culprit *shakes head*

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Webpages that crash

      @Joe: you're right. Much like a bypass, the traffic will grow to fill the capacity. Newspaper pages run at 20-40MB if all the ads and scripts are allowed (I've seen 75MB on the Indy) for a data content (news) of a few hundred kB. Page size is set by papers' view of what readers will accept as load time, not their consideration for our bandwidth. If users had 1Gbps then the papers would just cram in more crap for the same load times.

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Webpages that crash

      Or it could be all the malware running on their computers because they click on every kitten picture sent to them.

    3. Digitall
      Pint

      Re: Webpages that crash

      noscript extension for web browsers definitely helps avoid these issues.

      1. RegGuy1

        Re: Webpages that crash

        Indeed -- brilliant add on. I normally ensure these are disabled:

        google-analytics.com

        doubleclick.net

        googletagmanager.com

        google.com

        twitter.com

        facebook.net

        ajax.googleapis.com

        Sometimes I need the last one for some functionality. Looking at what the Indy or Torygraph request -- and what noscript forbids -- I'm amazed the Internet actually works at all.

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Webpages that crash

        and Ad Blockers. But these days if a web page does not pull in stuff from 10 or 20 other sites then it could be considered badly designed.(sic)

        One site I use from time to time has 24 tracking sites linked to it. WTF!!!! Strangely if I fire up my VPN and access the site from Germany the trackers drop to 5. Funny that. It also loads quicker.

        It is just getting out of hand. All these 'other' sites slow down web pages.

        Die Trackers

        Die Slurpers

        Die Ad slingers.

    4. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Webpages that crash

      A website that pulls in scripts from two dozen sources to just display the frontpage of whatever is slow and annoying...

      And may the Good Lord forgive me for saying it, but IME this website is one of them. Sometimes the little display in the bottom left hand corner of my monitor suggests uploading from numerous sites.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Webpages that crash

        ..can I mention the excessive left margin on articles that appeared on El Reg recently? Is it a ploy to make us see more adverts (/me looks a bit shifty at this point) by forcing us to scroll?

    5. handleoclast Silver badge

      Re: Webpages that crash

      There is a site I use a lot. Years ago I turned off my adblocker for that site so they'd get a bit of revenue, because they deserved it. And then I noticed a peculiar thing: my browser would crash frequently when looking at pages on their site, and nowhere else. I turned my adblocker on again and the crashes stopped.

      Maybe that site has better-behaved ads now. Maybe the many updates to my browser in the intervening years mean the ads that used to crash it no longer do. Maybe it's safe once more. Or maybe not. The site itself tries to cater to a wide variety and version of browsers but advertisers tend to test only on the latest Microsoft thing. I know that on the few occasions I use my mobile to browse the web it occasionally encounters crashing pages and the crashes seem to be only on sites that have the big, flashy, ads, so I'm guessing that site is still going to give me problems.

      But even if it's safe to come out of the closet, the adverts are very intrusive on that site. Which I could just about live with. But the ads are also data hungry. I have a monthly limit and I don't want to waste it on adverts I don't look at for products I'd never buy anyway.

      Maybe if the site had a link for donations I'd throw a little into the pot occasionally, but it doesn't have one (or it's well hidden).

      No prizes for guessing which site I'm talking about.

    6. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Webpages that crash

      >Well, that might be partly due to the connection speed, but mostly it is the mobification and scriptification of the websites.

      Which is also the reason why we tend to have two or three browsers installed (eg. IE/Edge, Chrome, Firefox). I also find with Android that increasingly the stock browser is unable to load webpages and have to change to Chrome or other browser.

      1. Is It Me

        Re: Webpages that crash

        Chrome is the stock browser on Chrome, and has been for a fair while. I know Samsung and some others have installed their own browsers though.

    7. Jaybus

      Re: Webpages that crash

      It's video that is the culprit. The trend has been to add annoying pop-up video content, as well as multiple video ads on the sidebars that autoplay when the cursor gets near them. On many news sites the text cannot even be read anymore due to the dynamic page resizing and jumping about as the multiple MBs of content trickle in for every single page.

  2. Big_Boomer

    Slow websites

    Some of the worst culprits of this are some of the biggest names on the net. eBay in particular seem to prioritise loading the 400 adverts displayed on the page before loading the actual content you want to see. Yes, I get that they use the ads as part of their income, but they seriously need to look at how much advertising and how fast it loads. I have all but given up searching for stuff on eBay because it is so slow it often crashes the browser (built-in, Chrome or Mozilla) on my droid tablet. I am on 34Mb/s "Unlimited" fibre and that seems pretty stable, unless of course that "Unlimited" is bullpoop! And before someone pops up with poor WiFi as the cause, most other sites seem fine and I'm getting 34Mb/s via WiFi. On the wired PC it is more like 37Mb/s with 9.5Mb/s upload and a ping of 8ms to the nearest server.

  3. adam payne Silver badge

    "The government claims 90 per cent of British households can receive a superfast broadband service."

    I must be in the 10% that can't get it. I don't live in the countryside, I can see the cabinet from my house but have still to be upgraded. The rest of the town have had fibre for 2 years but my cabinet has been in the build phase since last year.

    I seriously do not believe 90% claim.

    1. The Boojum

      The quote should have been "up to 90% of British households..."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why don't you believe it? From your own empirical evidence, the rest of your town has been done, it's just your cabinet that hasn't. That sounds like even in your own town the 90% figure is right.

    3. lsces

      Add the problem that they don't bother to check how many people can be supplied from the cabinets they do finally upgrade. How many are filled up before half the target houses are actually able to upgrade?

  4. Ben1892

    ...or is it that people really only budget for £23p/m "upto" 17Mbs ADSL with massive contention ratios, they could buy FTTC ~50Mbps but think it's overpriced and don't/can't afford to.

    It's like buying a 60bhp car - you'll put up with it but you'll complain about how slow it is to anyone that'll listen.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      ...or is it that people really only budget for £23p/m "upto" 17Mbs ADSL with massive contention ratios, they could buy FTTC ~50Mbps but think it's overpriced and don't/can't afford to.

      Well the technology involved isn't going to suddenly remove contention but otherwise, yup, that actually is about it. Market and speed test data shows that the top packages are only taken up by a minority even taking availability into consideration. It's not clear though if that's because of ignorance or because people just don't see the need to pay the extra cost.

      1. Alien8n Silver badge

        We actually went with VM's top package because their contention and bandwidth shaping even on the basic 200Mb connection was utterly appalling. Not sure what speeds we were getting, but it certainly was nowhere near 200Mb, felt more like 5Mb (so bad even iPlayer would buffer). Now the biggest issues seem to be the speeds at the other end, banks are particularly notorious for slow loading webpages. They actually offered us a 300Mb line, but it wasn't guaranteed 300Mb so decided against it.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "Not sure what speeds we were getting, but it certainly was nowhere near 200Mb, felt more like 5Mb (so bad even iPlayer would buffer)."

          FWIW, I'm on VM 100Mb/s and get the speeds as advertised (where the source xan send it that fast) the vast majority of the time. But iPlayer still stutters now and then. I'd strongly recommend never using iPlayer performance as a measure of your BB quality because iPlayer itself seems to be of highly variable quality as a source.

    2. Andy 66

      " they could buy FTTC ~50Mbps but think it's overpriced and don't/can't afford to."

      FTTH may be overpriced, but here FTTC is 15€ a month and provides 350Mbs with TV and phone included (400Mbs advertised). YMMV

    3. Andy 66

      " they could buy FTTC ~50Mbps but think it's overpriced and don't/can't afford to."

      ---

      FTTH may be overpriced, but here FTTC is 15€ a month and provides 350Mbs with TV and phone included. YMMV

    4. Roland6 Silver badge

      > they could buy FTTC ~50Mbps but think it's overpriced and don't/can't afford to.

      Among non-IT people there is little real understanding of what connection speed (or CPU speed for that matter) means. With cars, people are more familiar with engine sizes, bhp and acceleration and so people can make a more informed decision buying the 60bhp estate and know that it will only do 70mph, if wound up. Also with speed limits, it is almost a given that a car will be able to do 70mph, the only questions being how long will it take to get there and are you thrashing the engine.

      With network speeds, there is little real appreciation of what the real differences are between 18Mbps, 38Mbps, 76Mbps, etc.

      So for example my parents decided they don't use the computer and internet very much - "only for emails and a little web lookup) and so purchased a really cheap system and sub-8Mbps ADSL then complaining how difficult it was to do things (mother would get impatient and start clicking and thus cause problems...). The solution was to give them a faster (and more expensive) computer and upgrade to 18Mbps ADSL so that the system then worked at their thinking speed.

      Interestingly, I've also encountered the opposite, with one client wanting top end laptops when the only application being used was Remote Desktop...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    made up words

    We can have surveys until the cows come home, but getting a marketing person to stop with the bullshit is just not going to happen.

    After 10 years plus of "Up to" and with companies STILL not obligated to tell you if they throttle the connection at peak times is it any wonder that one of the most technical products people buy is called by the stupid and meaningless name "superfast".

    The fact that the article has to clarify that superfast is 24 and not 10 megabits shows the absurdity.

    Why not say superfast broadband is measured by 270 african parrots flying in straight line against the wind.

    1. Oh Homer

      Re: "270 african parrots"

      You mean up to 270 African parrots, because here in the deepest, darkest jungles of Scotland I get a maximum of about 4½ parrots, or less when it's raining (which is 364¾ days of the year).

  6. Gordon Pryra

    UK ISP are uniformly terrible.

    The service they offer their customers is appealing and their MO is "Don't like it, then you know what to do, but you will find the opposition just as shit"

    Generally the moment you need to call the service desk, then you may as well look at cancelling your direct debits before they take any more cash.

    The best answer when dealing with their customer support on them calling you about lack of payment is "you can answer in Court why you feel this payment is due, because I certainly didn't receive the service"

    From Talk Talk selling a 1Mb line to my parents for £60 a month

    to BT Charging me for my old house for 6 months (as well as my new house) then cutting off the new connection and trying to charge me to reconnect it

    to Virgin selling their "Gamer Package" for £150-200 a month complete with hardware that actually means a gamer would have received a better experience using their phone as a mobile hot spot...

    EVERY one of the top ISPs has had their customer service lie to me on the phone regarding the service at some point, from straight out technobabble when they don't want to tell me they have oversubscribed the services in my area to downright lies regarding anything from packet shaping to shit modems

    1. romanempire

      Re: UK ISP are uniformly terrible.

      uniformly? Try Zen.

      P.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: UK ISP are uniformly terrible.

        Or Andrews & Arnold

        But both Zen and A&A cost more than TalkTalk, BT, VM, etc, for a superior service.

        1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

          Re: UK ISP are uniformly terrible.

          Or ICUK.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: UK ISP are uniformly terrible.

      @ Gordon Pryra: The service they offer their customers is appealing...

      Not to me it isn't, but then I think you meant appalling.

    3. AndrueC Silver badge
      Go

      Re: UK ISP are uniformly terrible.

      The service they offer their customers is appalling and their MO is "Don't like it, then you know what to do, but you will find the opposition just as shit"

      Not quite. They are crap if - like most people - you buy at the budget end. If you're prepared to pay extra (Zen, IDNet, AAISP to name a few) you will get better customer service. I wonder how much you're paying for internet connection and 'phone? Mine comes to just over £50pcm and doesn't include anything else. Expensive? Yes. But I have access to the keen and capable IDNet support team. It's also an ISP that rolled out dual-stack IPv6 several years ago.

      You get what you pay for.

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: UK ISP are uniformly terrible.

        "get what you pay for"

        Only you don't. When the kids get home from school, many cheap connections slow to sub-1Mbps speeds. This is only allowed because Ofcom is controlled by the ISPs.

        A cheap link should give you modest, but usable speeds. Most give you either unusable speeds, or no service at all at peak times because they are allocating all the bandwidth to the expensive services.

        1. Oh Homer
          Childcatcher

          Re: "usable speeds"

          I agree completely. If you pay more then you should get more, but that doesn't mean that if you pay less then you should get something that is not fit for purpose, because that's just paying for nothing, which is basically just theft.

          The internet should not only be for the rich. A basic, usable service should be accessible to all.

    4. N2 Silver badge

      Re: UK ISP are uniformly terrible.

      Or IDNet?

  7. EnviableOne Bronze badge

    The one thing people fail to realise is 90% of the time, changing the provider will not make a blind bit of difference as the issue it the PoS infrastructure that openreach fails to maintain or train engineers to service (They have been offically short of engineers for at least 5 years.)

    the only other option to most is Virgin, if you have the fibre, depending on which constituent company installed it, but still some areas are on Openreach cables. Or a smaller fibre provider, but that usually entails a larger upfront cost.

    If BT had rolled out a fibre network in the 90s like everyone else, instead of patching with Alu Alloy cos its good enough for phone calls, we would have much better performance.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      If BT had rolled out a fibre network in the 90s like everyone else...

      A couple of points... which "everybody else" would that have been then? And IIRC from comments made by others on various BB threads, BT were prevented from delivering a proper network.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There's far more to broadband performance than simply the last mile. The amount of backhaul and peering bandwidth your ISP buys has a massive effect.

      I'm not aware of any countries that have a 100% fibre access network. Which countries are you thinking of? The use of aluminium in access networks was a 70's phenomenon, not 90's.

    3. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      If BT had rolled out a fibre network in the 90s like everyone else, instead of patching with Alu Alloy cos its good enough for phone calls, we would have much better performance.

      Some people would. Unfortunately it's likely that roll-out would only now be entering its end game. And it's unclear if BT would have been able/willing to invest in DSL while funding and building the FTTP roll-out. So if you're currently languishing with ADSL instead of FTTC you might in that alternate universe be languishing on an analogue modem.

      I've posted this link before. It's a very interesting attempt to work out the costs and timescales of an FTTP roll-out.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        If BT had rolled out a fibre network in the 90s like everyone else, .... cont.

        I suspect we would be having a very similar conversation today!

        In the mid 1990's, when the WWW aka Information Superhighway was the thing, what would have been the line speed? I suspect given we are talking about HTML 1.0/2.0 with no video or audio streaming, TPTB, will have decided to only enable 1Mbps service (remember most office LANs were only 10Mbps and dial up was 56kbps...)

        So as AndrueC intimates, BT would now be in the final stages of deploying a 1Mbps FTTP universal service, with the problem of how to upgrade it to something faster...

        1. vogon00

          >only 10Mbps and dial up was 56kbps...

          10Mbps half-duplex, on a hub with lots of other users hanging off the other ports...meaning a big collision domain and shite throughout for all.

          56K was 'up to' 56k, and frequently less than that. I was working for a major telecoms equipment manufacturer then, and had the job understanding the impact of this new-fangled V.90 stuff on our equipment and network, then adjusting our stuff accordingly. Oh what fun!

          Even under laboratory conditions (as opposed to 'real world' conditions), lots of different manufactures kit struggled to interoperate at >45k reliably. Common trick was to establish at and report a high connection speed to appear good, then fall back to a lower speed for reliability/stability reasons. Plus things like running Lap-m (HDLC, really) introduced further overhead.

          I went on to develop ADSL DSLAMS for a while, then moved on to other things before VDSL became a thing.

          Bottom line here is that nothing apart from the base speed of the low layer bitstream has changed. Base speed is now several orders of magnitude above that of the 90s, but the other issues (Selling/differentiating on reported speed, rather than useable throughout), optimising for appearance rather than performance etc.) remain the same.

  8. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Meh

    Why ask about page crashes in a broadband quality survey? I see countless page crashes a day at work mostly caused by suppliers tinkering with their sites.

    I'm wondering what the reason of asking a question which could be blamed on pretty much anything unrelated to the survey topic afterwards could be...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hefty Sums?

    I don't know about 'hefty sums' - broadband in Britain is amongst the cheapest in Europe.

    Almost as if - wait for this - the very low pricing makes it terribly hard for anyone to justify investment in better networks.

    Give people the choice between fast broadband and cheap broadband, 85% of people take the cheap one.

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Re: Hefty Sums?

      I don't buy that argument. It's about competition.

      In the US they pay far more than us for lower speeds solely because of lack of competition, so to suggest we don't pay enough to justify investment sidesteps the issue.

      BT Openreach monopoly? Hello?

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: BT Openreach monopoly? Hello?

        sure Openreach is a monopoly but unlike the USA it is forced to allow other carriers to use their exchange to subscriber kit.

        In the USA one telco will go to extraordinary lengths to stop other carriers getting access to their turf. This inlcudes removing poles and even sabotage.

        Which would you rather have eh?

    2. Mike Scott 1

      Re: Hefty Sums?

      On my BT exchange only line, I get one choice - Expensive and slow.

  10. TheProf
    Facepalm

    Egg marketing to sell eggs

    A survey from a company that makes money from people using its site to change utility supplier tells us that we're unhappy, in general, with our broadband and, by extension, encourages us to change supplier.

    Well they're not going to tell us everything is tickety-boo now, are they?

  11. nevstah

    can anyone tell me why ADSL2+ (up to 24Mbps) is no longer available? Up to 17Mbps seems to be the best ADSL speed offered

    1. Fuzz

      ADSL2+

      ADSL2+ is still available. I think all ADSL is now provided using ADSL2+ even if it's limited to 8Mbps. The reason the up to 24Mbps connections dissappeared is that it was only achievable in very specific circumstances. You had to be practically sitting in the exchange to get that speed.

      Also marketing, most people can get 40 or 80 on VDSL now so there's no need to try and market your ADSL as 24Mbps anymore because you can offer a faster service on VDSL.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: ADSL2+

        More specifically, it's to do with the ruling that you can't advertise a speed above the level that a certain percentage of users can get - part of a past attempt to get a bit more honesty in internet connection marketing.

        So yes, ADSL2+ is technically capable of 24Mbps - but only if you are almost in the exchange. Once you get out to real line lengths, the speed drops off. it just so happens that across the installed base, x% can get 17Mbps or faster, so 17Mbps is what's advertised. I can't remember what x is, but that's where the 17Mbps comes from - some will get better, IIRC we had a customer getting well over 20Mbps before they upgraded to FTTC.

  12. ukgnome Silver badge

    STILL waiting for BT nosuchReach to work out how to provide FTC when all houses in the village connect direct to exchange.

    As for up to 17Mbps - If you only get 7Mbps and at peak they throttle you to 1.5Mbps then what is your actual speed? I googled the answer and will let you know as soon as the page loads.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sounds like situation my parents-in-law were in ... not sure what speed their ADSL claimed to be "up to" but when I visited it seemed to average at around 300kbs (yes that is a 'k') and occasionally burst upto 1Mbs.

    2. Anonymous IV

      > STILL waiting for BT nosuchReach to work out how to provide FTC when all houses in the village connect direct to exchange.

      Quite straightforward: get Openreach to stick a cabinet outside the exchange, and wire all the EO lines into it.

      Good luck!

    3. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      It's not actually BT's fault. Industry regulations make it illegal to site VDSL equipment inside the same building as ADSL for interference reasons. One solution is of course to install a cabinet just outside the exchange and indeed they've done this in a few places now. Unfortunately local network topography can make this prohibitively expensive.

      Imagine an exchange in the middle of a town surrounded by houses and shops. Now imagine a hundred lines fanning out from it in all directions. Now imagine sticking a cabinet in one place. At most it might be convenient for two or three lines. The rest need to be diverted (in some cases from the opposite side of the exchange) round to the new cabinet then looped back round to their original point. It might not even be possible to bring lines round like that without digging up people's gardens or bulldozing properties. You can't do it inside the exchange because that might mean relocating equipment racks and cable frames for the entire exchange. And even then a lot of EO lines are long lines for remote isolated properties. They won't gain anything from being attached to an FTTC cabinet outside the exchange.

      1. ukgnome Silver badge

        Cabinet

        Well my property which is EO is a mere 44M away from the exchange. I could kick a ball and hit it (I never said how many times I would kick the ball)

        One of the proposals is a cabinet just outside the exchange - that was proposed 3 years ago now. The real reason it has moved so slowly isn't red tape. The reason is priority.

        Why plumb in a new cabinet when only a small minority will use it.

        We are talking about a small exchange that has no LLU operators present. And it only caters for 511 residential properties and 27 non-residential.

        The annoying thing is that the FTTC status is showing as available in some areas. However upon closer inspection it seems that no cabinets connect to this exchange. So available in some areas is quite misleading.

      2. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        Which just goes to show that FTTC is just a bodge. It's a practical solution to reusing bits of 19th century technology (copper wire) to provide a 21st century network. They can sweat this old tech as much as they want, but it'll never be as future-proof and as fast and reliable as fibre.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge

          They can sweat this old tech as much as they want, but it'll never be as future-proof and as fast and reliable as fibre.

          True but it might be better than the alternative.Twenty years to roll-out FTTP while everyone waits their turn and suffers an analogue modem. Or ten years to get everyone ADSL and ten more to get most people FTTC.

          There's an interesting perspective here. Also a slightly less rosy view here.

          So it's not all sweetness and light over in Asia. They don't have 100% penetration there either.

        2. dcluley

          I have never understood how they were allowed to get away with this "up to" nonsense. Imagine if the electricity board were allowed to supply you with "up to 240 volts" when in reality only supplying a degraded supply at 120V. Yes - I know it might cost more but I would rather get what I can pay for than pay for something I don't get.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

            Imagine if the electricity board were allowed to supply you with "up to 240 volts" when in reality only supplying a degraded supply at 120V

            Or how about, imagine if the electricity company were supplying you with an "up to 60/80/100A" service ? Well that's exactly what they do - your house (depending on the age, location, and local infrastructure) will have a 60A, 80A, or 100A fuse in the mains supply - ie the fuse that you can't get to, sealed inside the box on the end of the supplier's cable.

            Can you use all 60/80/100A ? Well, sort of - as long as your neighbours don't also try it ! The supply industry works on an averaged demand of only 2kW (that's about 8A) per household - if every house decided to try and use it all at the same time then it would blow the fuses (possibly as small as 300A) at your local substation !

            In our office building I happen to know that most of the offices have a 63A fuse protecting the submain from the meter room to the office. Down in the meter room, there are rows of meters (one per office), fed from a distribution box containing the suppliers fuses. There are 10 units fed from each phase in the box, and a 315A fuse upstream. So 10 units, if they all pulled 63A would be trying to pull 630A through a 315A fuse.

            In general this isn't a problem - diversity of loads means that people don't all try and use all the supply capacity at the same time. There is massive variation in demand, and some correlation (eg most offices use power during 9-5 and little outside of that), but overall there is nothing like the capacity needed to be able to supply everyone with what they thing they are buying.

            Elsewhere, there are some countries where your electricity supply has a much lower rated current - and you pay according to that limit which may be as low as 5A in some places, enforced by a circuit breaker provided by the lecky company. Mismanage your loads (eg forget that the washing machine is on when you try and boil the kettle) and the lights go out.

            The internet is the same. There is massive diversity of demand (bandwidth usage), and no ISP could afford to buy enough bandwidth for the theoretical possibility of satisfying every user trying to use their "full amount" at the same time. The main difference is that (historically, it's changing these days) the electrical distribution system was designed by competent engineers, with a view to providing a reliable network. The internet is largely run under the control of beancounters with money the primary motive - ie not looking at "what bandwidth is needed to provide a decent service most of the time" but "how cheap can we go before the complaints get too bad".

            Clearly different ISPs have a different view on what's acceptable.

            meanwhile, in the UK lecky business, there's a lot of push now to cut costs - and that includes a significant shift from having spare distribution capacity to having disconnectable customers. ie if there's a major fault, instead of being able to route around it, they pick up the phone and tell some commercial customers to cut their demand - a facility for which the customer gets a discount on their bills, and a further discount when/if it's actually used.

            And finally - "Smart Meters" are primarily about bringing this to the domestic market. Think 1970s style rolling blackouts when there's not enough lecky, but done on a house by house basis rather than block by block.

  13. fobobob

    Yank here

    We've got a good old boy you can borrow (indefinitely, preferably) who'll help you redefine what broadband truly is. Comes with a complementary smugness and a genuinely punchable mug.

  14. ma1010 Silver badge
    Flame

    And..

    British and American broadband is confusing and speeds are crap

    FTFY

    It's not just the Brits who have this sort of problem. In both countries, the "broadband" providers give us promises that are as trustworthy as a politician's. At the same time, the politicians are in their pockets (especially in America, where I live) so do nothing to discommode them in any way like demand that they stop lying, charge reasonable rates, etc. Their service terms are a "confusopoly" (to use Scott Adams' term), an oligopoly that uses intentionally confusing language to obfuscate how they are going to rip you off once you sign up, charging premium rates for service that would be unacceptable in many third world countries. Here in America, our government's next move will likely be to guarantee 100% broadband access to the masses by the simple method of redefining "broadband" to be at least 8 bits per second down and 1 up.

    Welcome to the first world with its cutting-edge telecomms infrastructure.

  15. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Happy

    Huge Overhead

    Think of your packets as hurtle jumpers having to leap over all those eavesdropping, spying, snooping hurtles before they reach you or their finish line. The hurtle makers are working overtime but can't keep up with the demand.

    1. Fink-Nottle

      Re: Huge Overhead

      Talking of huge things overhead - it'll all seem unimportant when those North Korean nukes start hurdling towards us.

  16. Zmodem

    its all bollocks anyway, ISP's can hide their rubbish speeds when G.FAST rolls out soon with speeds upto 350MB/s

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