back to article A million UK homes still get crappy broadband speeds, groans Ofcom

Just over a million premises in Blighty, or 4 per cent of properties, cannot get speeds of 10Mbps, according to a comprehensive report by regulator Ofcom. That figure has fallen from 1.6 million premises last year, according to the Connected Nations 2017 research (PDF). Not surprisingly, 17 per cent of rural premises are not …

  1. babelfish

    So long as it's FTTC - forget it.

    Same old shitty copper phone cabling and oversubscription.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Boffin

      Not sure what you mean by 'oversubscription' but if you're referring to contention that will happen just as much, maybe more so, with FTTP. The higher the end-user bandwidth the harder it is for the CP to provide it. And with FTTP being very expensive to roll-out the more likely it is that the CP will opt for a higher contention ratio.

      Of course only getting 75% of 1Gb/s at peak is still a lot better than 95% of 70Mb/s..

      But contention is here to stay for residential internet. It's the only way it will ever be financially viable. We have to share bandwidth to keep the costs down.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Copper, your lucky we dream of copper

      AFAIK the lines here are white copper (Aluminium), higher resistance than copper, and the

      cabinet is 100m from the exchange, property is 1.9km from the cabinet, and OR/BT will not

      splice the cable to put line onto a closer cabinet.

      FibreUK, rip off here. as it will only give ~50% faster speeds than adsl2.

      Cant wait till 2018 when they have to advertise 'real speeds'.

    3. Oh Homer
      Childcatcher

      "indoor 4G mobile signal from all four networks"

      Pfft. I don't even get an outdoor any "G" mobile signal from any network?

      Do I get a prize?

      Please make it a dedicated 1TB/s line, so I can download all the pr0n before our dark overlords block it.

    4. Loud Speaker

      Its probably wet string, not even copper.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The simple unpalatable truth is that those properties would cost thousands per property to fibre up. Nobody wants to pay £10k up front? It doesnt matter if you are BT, virgin, sky or anyone else you are in it to make money. Go to the market for investment people expect there money back plus some sort of RETURN!

    1. Neil 44

      People are managing it...

      ... as Gigaclear are in many rural areas round here (just not ours, that is stuck with BT!)

      Why BT can't even manage to get a decent solution to their "Exchange only" lines that are more the 1/2 mile from the exchange is also beyond me (and the solution of "putting a cabinet in the exchange" won;t work as ADSL2 gives better performance than VDSL over the distance)..

      I'd love to get faster than 6Mbs...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: People are managing it...

        Gigaclear can cherry pick a handful of rural locations which are still relatively densely packed. If BT went to the market and said give us billions to put fibre to every home but we can't guarantee to recoup the investment never mind give you a return they would be laughed out of the office. BT with a monopoly on the last mile also cant just cross subsidise as its potentially anti-competitive behaviour. Now why the government cant intercede and spend billions on fibre to every home rather than HS2 is a good question.

        1. steelpillow Silver badge

          Re: People are managing it...

          To be fair to Gigaclear, they are expanding into areas and offering levels of service that the BT instant-profit-gnomes avoid like the plague. Their worst problem is obstructive and stultified bureaucrats in Highway Authorities (yes I am looking at you, Worcestershire) who won't let them do what others will.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: People are managing it...

            >To be fair to Gigaclear...

            Well not to be a party pooper - as I hope it doesn't happen, but...

            We need to wait a few more years befofe we can decide if Gigaclear and the other Alt-ISPs deploying fibre in the residential local loop, become successful or end up going the way the cable co's did in the 1990's.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: People are managing it...

          @AC

          "Now why the government cant intercede and spend billions on fibre to every home rather than HS2 is a good question."

          They can't divert money from HS2 because it's all being spent on making people redundant on a project that hasn't started yet. (£1.76m for 94 people)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: People are managing it...

            They can't divert money from HS2 because it's all being spent on making people redundant on a project that hasn't started yet. (£1.76m for 94 people)

            Yes, but that's just "office politics" and small beer in costs. What it says about the HS2 organisation is of course far more troubling. From what I hear on the grapevine, the HS2 organisation is more toxic than Union Carbide.

        3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: People are managing it...

          Now why the government cant intercede and spend billions on fibre to every home

          By "government" you mean "taxpayer". Perhaps because not every home needs or wants it? Offer people the choice of subsidised fibre to every home, or more money for the roads or the NHS, and I don't think fibre would win the vote.

          1. Paul

            Re: People are managing it...

            If you could offer people in deeply rural areas the chance to have a decent internet connection, then perhaps we'd see businesses move into those areas, offering a chance of a local career to young people, and then less young people abandoning those places, and it could lead to a renewal of those communities.

            That might win votes, and win funding.

            1. Danny 14 Silver badge

              Re: People are managing it...

              the problem is that BT isnt a nationalised company. of course BT could still turn a profit AND roll out to the whole country if it looked at the solutions as a whole country and not just london + profitable areas.

    2. kain preacher Silver badge

      Really ? Cause were I live it was all fiber to the ADSL cabinet. They retrofitted the cabinet to do FTTP.

  3. Anonymous Noel Coward
    Unhappy

    Downloading a 13GB update for FFXV...

    ...I've still got around 30 hours to go.

  4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Simple solution

    Just kill OFCOM and remove all this regulation and this communist neutrality and the internet will be perfect

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Simple solution

      You forgot the /s tag.

  5. LeahroyNake Bronze badge

    I'm not rural

    I live a 20 minute commute from a major city and still only get 6Mpbs or should that be 6Mbps ? If anyone in the house tries uploading anything more than a what's app message the connection craps out and takes 30 seconds to come back up. Even setting my TV to the highest QOS I can it still screws up streaming Netflix / Amazon Print and iPlayer etc. Draytek router as well, not the crap I was supplied.

    Grrrrr.

    1. Lysenko

      Re: I'm not rural

      I'm not rural

      I live a 20 minute commute from a major city

      We have an office 20 minutes commute from a major city and it most definitely is rural. The speed there is frequently around 2Mbps and cellular is even worse. Only O2 is even vaguely stable.

      I'd like to moan about this, but it would be a bit disingenuous. The speed we get is fine for C&C of cloud VMs and BT Infinity back home (in the city) is both fast and stable. I'd be screwed if I lived within walking distance of the office though (like the local school).

    2. Paul

      Re: I'm not rural

      QoS is not honoured by your ISP, you need to do clever stuff on your router yourself to reserve bandwidth for your streaming devices.

      As for Draytek. hmm. They seem so good on the spec sheet on the web. Built yourself a pfSense or OpnSense firewall instead.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: I'm not rural

        not everywhere rural is bad. i live in Shap and get 40mb. cant complain about that. I work in carlisle where virgin have cable areas too. rest is mostly fttc. we also have solway wireless mesh for really rural areas.

  6. schmeckles23

    I have lived in a bad area for years in the UK but now I am enjoying 300MB(I get 390MB though) ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      but now I am enjoying 300MB(I get 390MB though) ;)

      Then you're probably on Virginmedia. Which is fine for casual grumble browsing, or large file downloads. For anything involving real speed (=latency) such as gaming or videoconf, then you're fucked, because the useless bastards only offer the crippled Puma 6 based "Hub 3" which has severe and well known problems that Verminmedia won't publicly acknowledge.

      Gamers: You'll be better off with a low latency 10 Mbps Openreach connection. Avoid Virginmedia like the plague.

      1. Baldrickk Silver badge

        My virgin connection is still through a Hub 2.0. No Puma for me. Latency is fine, low 20ms latency to my usual gaming servers, and the 125mb/s download is plenty sufficient for me.

        Will be moving to FTTP next year when I move. That'll be nice :)

        Only fault with VM that I am having is the lack of upload, and I refuse to buy a larger package just to improve it slightly, as I don't need the extra bandwidth.

    2. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      "I have lived in a bad area for years in the UK but now I am enjoying 300MB(I get 390MB though) ;)"

      You can only get 390MB? What happens if you want to download 400MB or 1GB? You should pick an ISP that doesn't have such a ridiculously low cap. What speed do you get?

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Pint

        anthonyhegedus: Good pedantry Sir -->

  7. PeteA
    Megaphone

    Need USO for > 1 provider

    Otherwise we'll end up with the country carved up between a duopoly, or maybe an oligopoly if we're lucky.

    In my area you can only get Vermin Media who are a bunch of crooks* that claim that (1) a Hitron-aka-Rogers CGNv4 is "business grade" ADSL, (2) it's acceptable to provide a "static IP" by using a GRE tunnel, and (3) that prohibiting the use of your own [decent quality] hardware is reasonable for an ADSL "business grade" connection that I use for private hosting.

    * Not proven in a court of law. Virgin, if you wish to sue me for libel then I've kept all the correspondence and documentation needed to correct.

  8. steelpillow Silver badge
    Devil

    Recipe

    1 pk: Moronic civil servants in Whitehall.

    1 house: Moronic politicians in Westminster.

    1 board: Greedy wolves in BT who never, ever give something for nothing but insist on being paid for what they actually need to do anyway.

    Mix together and simmer gently until your guests explode.

  9. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    How much of this crappy speeds is crap on the user's computer choking the life out of it. I've just spent the afternoon getting my system workable enough to get to a point where I could nuke Avast after it decided to treat my entire system as a threat. I shall be filling the free space with random numbers just to make sure.

    1. tmz

      No ...

      don't use random numbers. Use just 0s and 1s.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: No ...

        >don't use random numbers. Use just 0s and 1s.

        SDelete is your friend...

        https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/sysinternals/downloads/sdelete

        Alternatively, CCleaner has a wipe free space option, buried in the settings/advanced features.

        Mind you, recommend performing this action overnight, particularly if you have a large HDD.

  10. ma1010 Silver badge

    More costs

    BT has said it will cost around £600m, which it will recoup by further hiking everyone's broadband bill.

    Okay, BT needs to recoup their costs, I understand.

    But the flip side is by hiking bills, more people who could get it won't be able to afford it. Don't know what BT is up to over there, but here AT&T finally installed fibre where I live. They are offering it to me at an undisclosed price ($50/mo introductory + I would have to purchase some other, undisclosed, services as well). So even the introductory price isn't clear, not to mention how much they plan to screw us once the introductory period (however long that is) is over. I'll stick with my phone + ADSL internet from a small, independent telco for now, thanks; that costs me $50/mo, and just works without any hidden charges or price hikes.

  11. Lorribot

    Every year were I live 1000 new homes are buillt. Not one planning application has any stipulation around broadband provision. I know of one person who is on a 3 month rolling waiting list for a spare line at his local exchange and another who has a 3MB connection.

    All new housing should have at the very least FTTC provision stipulted where te cabinet is no more than 200M from teh property and the exchange has sufcient capacity

    If we can't even get the new houses right what hope is there to get all the existing housing stock done?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If we can't even get the new houses right what hope is there to get all the existing housing stock done?

      So long as house buyers continue to buy houses without high speed broadband, housebuilders will continue to sell them. A tiny handful of developers recognise the need and make a selling point of having gigabit broadband. But lets face it, new houses are shit. Fuck all garden, next door's living room looking into your toilet, often ghastly faux-Georgian village design, insufficient car parking leading to congested roads, mixing social housing with private ownership because that's "a good thing" from DCLG's Guardianista thinking, often crappy, tiny little windows, shit phone reception due to building standards that in practice mandate vast amounts of foil backed insulation, tiddly little rooms, no storage space, cheaply built. And in future, new build buyers can expect their heating to be provided by a "district heating network", putting their comfort in the hands of a bunch of charlatans who have an absolute monopoly, and can charge extortionate prices for shit service.

      If you buy a new build, maybe the lack of broadband is the least of your worries.

      1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        I wish I were in a position to buy a piece of shit new build. To me, it's an unattainable goal.

      2. Korev Silver badge

        I mostly agree with you, but...

        new build buyers can expect their heating to be provided by a "district heating network", putting their comfort in the hands of a bunch of charlatans who have an absolute monopoly, and can charge extortionate prices for shit service.

        I live in a flat with communal heating, there are thermostats on each radiator so I can easily get the temperature I want (which most people would find uncomfortably cold).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I live in a flat with communal heating, there are thermostats on each radiator so I can easily get the temperature I want (which most people would find uncomfortably cold).

          Unmetered communal systems are sensible and cheap, but alas now illegal for new build (under Building Regs, and the Heat Metering & Billing Act 2014).

          But what I was referring to was large scale systems with a large heat distribution network, a discrete "energy centre", possibly CHP set. These tend to be quite pricey, with costs for heat at around 45p/kWh. The issue about comfort isn't the local controllability, it is two other things - reliability, and network design. Regarding reliability, heat networks are big, complex assets, they have a depressing failure rate, so that in some developments you can expect several days each year without heating or hot water. The network design issue is that rather too many are not properly designed in regards of thermo- and fluid-mechanics, meaning some properties struggle to get the heat they need.

          There's some big heat systems that work really well. But the number that don't is rather too high, and the costs of rectifying a poorly designed system are astronomical. And if you're not happy with the price, reliability, performance, or even customer service, most heat customers have no other option than to move, because retrofitting gas or electric heating will be incredibly expensive, and often not possible at all in an apartment building.

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        >But lets face it, new houses are shit.

        Not quite, houses build for housing associations etc. tend to be built to a much higher standard than those intended for sale to joe public. This is because housing associations firstly specify things such as storage requirements and minimum room dimensions and actually employ people to go and inspect and identify faults during construction, whereas developers are able to largely self-certify houses built for general sale.

      4. Teiwaz Silver badge

        mixing social housing with private ownership because that's "a good thing" from DCLG's Guardianista thinking

        You should see the situation in the North of Ireland, where partly due to the obvious problem, the house situation is most certainly not mixed, on class or 'community' lines this, combined with the segregation during schooling due to the system cracking along the same fault lines.

        May not have caused the sectarian problem, but certainly didn't help.

        Living on a Housing Executive estate was bad enough. but Private estates always suffered from no play areas as developers wanted to squeeze every sq. foot to profit and not other amenities like shops within meaningful non-car distance.

        The upworldly mobile would like to hold themselves aloof in their own little enclaves, and the upwardly restricted are often ghetto-ised.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "The upworldly mobile would like to hold themselves aloof in their own little enclaves"

          Perhaps you misinterpret the rationale for my gripe as being some form of elitism. You can paint it that way, but in my quite varied experience, the downwardly mobile and even socially static prefer living with kindred spirits, rather than the enforced mixing of all social strata so beloved by the social engineers of Marsham Street. Don't forget that it was these people's predecessors that bought into shit ideas like "streets in the sky", and all the concrete jungles of the 60s and 70s.

      5. Martin-73 Silver badge

        you forgot 'a roof space full of undersized timber because 2x4 is cheaper than 2.5x6 so you can't store anything in it'

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      >Every year were I live 1000 new homes are buillt.

      Well you need to do some investigating as for any development over circa 28 houses BT will supply the developer with products to support the installation of an FTTP local loop.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      OpenReach will do FTTP for free to new developments

      It just needs the developer to work with OpenReach and a min of 30 new houses on the plot

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    10MiBps? Luxury!

    I'm a Comcast victim & that speed is a pipe dream. 30MiBps? That's a wet dream. My current speeds are a nightmare.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: 10MiBps? Luxury!

      "I'm a Comcast victim & that speed is a pipe dream. 30MiBps? That's a wet dream. My current speeds are a nightmare."

      Don't worry. Reducing net neutrality will allow the market forces to increase all those separate service charges currently bundled into packages for everyone else thus making it far more profitable and the ISPs will will use all that extra money to massively increase quality of service, speeds and reach. You'll be on a Gb connection by next year.

  13. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Words fail me. We are still talking about 'at least 10Mbps'. It's plastering over massive, subsidence-induced cracks. Getting people who can barely get 1Mbps onto 10Mbps will shut them up for a bit, but it's not enough for a sustainable 'digital economy'. Nor is 30Mbps. Nor, even is the rather paltry 300/30Mbps that BT offer on their full fibre product that's only available to 3% of properties now anyway.

    We need to, as a country, invest in nothing short of full fibre to every property, and a backbone that's capable of supporting 1Gbps up and down. Forget high speed rail links. It's solving a problem that either isn't there, or is certainly not as important as the broadband one. Having fast broadband (proper fast broadband) available to all will enable new use-cases, and new technologies far beyond what we have today in terms of sophistication.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Isn't that what the canal builders said, just before the railways arrived? Spending billions of taxpayer's pounds on "future-proofing" requires a better class of crystal ball than I've seen so far.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Isn't that what the canal builders said, just before the railways arrived? Spending billions of taxpayer's pounds on "future-proofing" requires a better class of crystal ball than I've seen so far.

        The Canal builders, probably not, in all likelihood, hard working naveys who could barely read and liked the gin, the designers maybe.

        Hmm, at least the canals put money in the pockets of a lot of the poor during construction, and has been a boon for wildlife, much later a tourist attraction and our towns would be less interesting (maybe a little safer) without them.

        No one is going to be taking a weeks break on a tour of birmingham fibre a hundred years from now (enjoying the many ex-pubs along the way which are now horrible up-market wine-bars and really not catering to the type of people who go on that type of holiday).

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Hmm, at least the canals put money in the pockets of a lot of the poor during construction,

          Yes, but it was private money. If private investors want to cover the country in fibre, then good for them. It won't be my money they're risking.

      2. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        Fibre is future proofing. New technologies will come that still use fibre. Using ageing copper and aluminium is a dead end. That technology has been around since the 1860s or before.

    2. Roopee

      Why >10Mb/s?

      Please explain what it is that average users can't do at 10Mb/s that they could do at 30 or 300? Super fast broadband (and 4G for that matter) isn't an economic priority when a significant number of people don't have decent (ie 10Mb/s) broadband or 3G phone coverage. Personally I don't believe Ofcom's figures either, they seem wildly exaggerated compared to my real life experience with clients' broadband speeds - I think a lot more than 4% have slower than 10Mb/s connections.

      1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        Re: Why >10Mb/s?

        "Please explain what it is that average users can't do at 10Mb/s that they could do at 30 or 300?"

        Well, how about have a family with two TVs stream 4K TV? Or have kids play games while you try and upload a file using onedrive/dropbox? Or upload a youtube video in a reasonable timeframe? Or have a video call on your phone while your computer is downloading an update?

        All these things are things people do right now that require more than 1Mbps up / 10Mbps down. Most 10Mbps services refer to the download speed, and the upload speed on those services (that use ADSL) tend to be around 1Mbps maximum.

        As an example, we just set up an office where they have a fine 22Mbps down but only 0.8Mbps up. This means that it takes more than 20 times as long to upload a folder-full of documents to onedrive than it would take us in our office. Personally I think 20Mbps upload is inadequate, but think about an actual real sitation. Let's say you have 200MB of photos to upload daily. That would take just 40 seconds at 50Mbps as opposed to an hour at 0.7Mbps. We have a customer who runs an office that does that that, and they can't get more than 0.7Mbps upload. That means it ties someone up for an hour while their computer takes up the entire office bandwidth. Except it's more than an hour. It's probably two hours because there are 10 other people working in the office at the same time.

        I'm arguing that if they were able to get 1Gbps, that upload would take a couple of seconds, and wouldn't affect the others in the office. It's a real efficiency, because it turns from something you have to bear in mind (make sure your computer has finished syncing all the files) and delays you to something you don't have to even think about.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Why >10Mb/s?

          >As an example, we just set up an office where they have a fine 22Mbps down but only 0.8Mbps up.

          Office = business use

          There are services available for businesses. Yes, they might be costly compared to residential grade DSL, however, they do come with some benefits...

          I suggest you revisit your business cost model and breathe in deeply, if quality WAN communications are essential to your business then...

          1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

            Re: Why >10Mb/s?

            Disagree. Not every business can afford leased lines and the like. And when some locations can get a workable speed from VDSL, why should they?

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Why >10Mb/s?

          Well, how about have a family with two TVs stream 4K TV? Or have kids play games while you try and upload a file using onedrive/dropbox?

          The well-off with a big house? Why should they have their broadband subsidised by the ever-increasing number of pensioners with one ordinary TV and for whom 10Mbit/s is fine for their online shopping and email with the grandkids?

          As an example, we just set up an office where they have a fine 22Mbps down but only 0.8Mbps up.

          That's commercial use, which (a) shouldn't be subsidised by the taxpayer, and (b) should use a VDSL service with 10Mbit/s each way. If you've set up a business on a domestic service you deserve the problems you'll have. When you need to deliver parcels you invest in a Transit van, you don't try and get by with a second-hand Polo just because it's cheaper. Why should your network services be different?

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: Why >10Mb/s?

            if you can get adsl then odds are you can get business symmetrical. leased lines are only useful if ypu truly need uncontended.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Why >10Mb/s?

              Also, people tend to forget about the second pair in the phone line that generally doesn't get connected in domestic situations. Interestingly, A&A seem to offer this as their "Naked DSL" offering - hence the lowly £60 price tag for installation.

              If memory serves me correctly, BE trialled pair bonding way back, not aware of a current ISP who provides this service, Interestingly, it could make a huge difference to those with sub 10mbps lines, as the doubling of effective line speed would be very noticeable.

              1. Corp-Rat

                Second Pair?

                Are you referring to the spare pair in the drop wire that goes all the way from the house to the pole and then gets tucked neatly (for a given level of neat) out the way and doesn't connect to anything?

                1. Roland6 Silver badge

                  Re: Second Pair?

                  >Are you referring to the spare pair in the drop wire ... and doesn't connect to anything?

                  Yes! In the UK these normally go all the way back to the street cabinet. Thus the installation fee, is for an engineer to connect the pair to an unused line in the street cabinet and to install a second socket for the new line in the customer's house.

      2. ChosenChaos

        Re: Why >10Mb/s?

        Do you have more than one device (PC/laptop/console/tablet/smartphone/etc) that connects to the Internet? Do you have more than one person who uses said devices for gaming, video watching, web browsing, file downloading, or anything else?

        Then you need fast Internet, especially given the way that the demand for bandwidth has been increasing pretty much everywhere for the last few years. It's a pity that the people in charge of providing said increases in bandwidth have turned out to be a pack of incompetent cockwombles, also pretty much everywhere.

  14. coppice

    The public information for our village says fast internet has been available for a long time. If you go to something like comparethemarket.com it start out saying fast internet is available, and only at the final stage of signing up to a particular ISP do they say, "er, whoops, its only 1Mbps where you live". The reality is we are hoping to get 17Mbps next month. I wonder how many places like ours are in the 96% listed as having fast internet?

  15. Lee D Silver badge

    Moved into a flat recently.

    In a MAJOR town inside the M25.

    Smack bang in the middle of several major roads, including the M25. You don't have to drive more than 2 minutes to be on dual-carriageways.

    The default rental agreement includes some middle-man company taking over your electric, broadband, etc. and then you get your service from them ("you can change it later" - still not sure that's legal, but whatever). Didn't matter as the lady who phoned up asking when I wanted the broadband was disappointed.

    I'd checked on the BT speed checker, the property gets 3Mbps on ADSL max, 5Mbps on ADSL2/VDSL max. Neighbours say the same. I'm not paying full-price for that! I wouldn't even pay TalkTalk rates for that. They can get stuffed. It's not like the line is a hundred years old or shared with a thousand flats.

    "But, oh, you have to have broadband nowadays".

    I agree. So I bought a £70 Huawei 4G box from Amazon (same one as Three and Vodafone sell for £60 but on 2-year contracts!). Then I bought a giffgaff SIM to test it and then, later, a Three SIM to actually get a decent amount of traffic on it (I don't hit 40Gb a month but it's nice not to have to worry). I was going to get a Vodafone SIM as for the same price, they do Netflix/Amazon Video/YouTube/etc. which doesn't count towards your traffic, whereas Three only do Netflix/TV Player on the same kind of deal, but Vodafone were stupid enough to send an email saying quite clearly "DO NOT GO TO THE STORE UNTIL YOU RECEIVE CONFIRMATION" but too stupid to actually confirm, so they lost out.

    PING 29ms

    DOWNLOAD 29.14Mbps

    UPLOAD 18.63Mbps

    That's at peak time. BT can't even guarantee me a 10th of that.

    I can't say that I even care to notice the difference between 4G and broadband now. Slightly higher ping on a game, but I drifted from serious online live play a long time ago. Everything else - speed, bandwidth, etc. just seems to work like being connected to broadband, even a PS4 and Steam, and myself and my friends just connect to a wireless network to use it (and I can kick them off it, etc.). If I go over on traffic, I phone the telco or change the SIM for another temporarily.

    And it's a tiny box, smaller than my phone, does 8 hours on an internal battery too, has wifi strength enough to cover the house, gets full 4G signal, is unlocked, and I can stick it in the car / take it to the pub / take it on holiday if I so wish, it just works the same. Even joined my Chromecast and local CCTV to it and it works perfectly - it can literally run the whole house and join it to 4G for internet stuff (port-forwards, UPnP, all the usual options that I immediately turn off). Hell, it can even piggy-back on another Wifi network if you run out of data, so I can run the house from my phone without having to change a single setting on the other devices.

    Quite literally, when a guest asks for the password, I tap the (one) button it, throw them the box itself and they type the code in off the screen on it (WPS etc.), or even scan a QR code that it can display. Standard micro-USB charger too.

    I can't say, with that little gadget, that I have any need for BT, a phone line or broadband. It's cheaper than buying a router, and cheaper per month than a BT package + phone line (would be even cheaper but I kept it on a 1-month rolling contract because I hate tie-in), and faster, and "just works" and even follows me if I move house.

    Broadband's days are numbered if 5G is any better. 4G can run a house of people's devices (we all played Jackbox Party Pack over it with god-knows-how-many phones connected to it) and I'm purely limited by monthly data allowance (I just need to pay more or commit to a contract if I ever need more, however).

    And it's gotta be most cost-effective and easier to find a business case for pushing 5G towers out into the sticks (one per town or whatever) than upheaving all the landworks for some ancient copper to get a pittance pushed down it and having to do that to every cabinet / house.

    Sorry, ISPs, I tried. Virgin don't cover me. All the BT-based providers have the same useless guaranteed speed (which is just an absolute joke, sorry). The 4G box covered my "moving in" stage and doesn't look like it's going anywhere, and friends thinks it's great. And when my "ISP" can't fix my problems, I just grab a SIM from another company and carry on. I'm told it even works abroad nowadays, because of the EU roaming things.

    Hell, I haven't even needed to buy the extra antennae to point towards wherever the phone mast is (god-knows... can't even see it).

    1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Do Vodafone allow you to do Netflix etc even on one of these router boxes? I’m sure in the past I’ve seen stipulations that these sort of things are for one device only. But also, what about bbc iPlayer?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        In my experience with these things the telcos typically don't care if you tether or stream video if you're on a capped plan. However, the "unlimited" plans tend to disallow tethering.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          personally i would have gotten a 5gb connection is a 4g PAYG backfill for when i needed the boost. use a vigor router as necessary etc.

      2. Lee D Silver badge

        Vodafone do if you buy the "video package" (a few quid more a month, and then none of the popular sites count towards your traffic).

        Three do for Netflix/TVPlayer. Can vouch for that first-hand, we use Netflix a LOT and none of it counts towards our traffic, and we have no TV so we use TVPlayer for anything live (yes, I do have a TV licence for the rare occasion I bother to watch anything live or on iPlayer!).

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Vodafone do if you buy the "video package" etc.

          This does seem to be a rather interesting way through the net neutrality minefield. Instead of giving traffic from preferred sources priority, simply charge the customer more for the privilege of receiving such traffic outside of their traffic allowance, naturally as the customer is paying for the traffic as part of their subscription the ISP can now legitimately route this traffic differently based on customer demand and not on payment from content providers...

  16. scrubber

    Not everyone streams 4k

    "crappy" != crappy

    I want everyone to have gigabyte speeds, but over 8 megabits is good enough for most people.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not everyone streams 4k

      @scrubber

      Re: " but over 8 megabits is good enough for most people."

      True enough. But other households, not at the center of your universe, have 4 or more inhabitants with that same requirement.

      It's not all about you.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Not everyone streams 4k

        this. and 10mb connections might have less than 1mb upload whichb is maddening with 4 people on the connection.

  17. Martin-73 Silver badge

    No shite, sherlock

    If ofcom would stop being in the pocket of BT's rivals, and be in the pocket of the consumer, then the situation might change.

    Yes, an unregulated monopoly is not good, but a highly regulated one, strangled not to compete, is even worse.

    There's NO incentive for BT to invest in their local network... sorry, openreach, whatever.... if they feel it might be stolen from them in the next year or so. Give them some security, they might (god forbid) actually invest!

    Expecting downvotes from people who are not BT subscribers but use their network

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps if OFCOM had been abolished years ago,

    Like David Cameron promised in his bonfire of the quangos manifesto pledge, we might have had real alternatives by now, rather than than just the pseudo competition permitted by the regulator.

    Poorer countries than us can afford the infrastructure changes but in the UK it's "all too difficult".

    OFCOM - still part of the problem, decades later :(

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT Lost their identity

    When they decided to take on SKY providing TV/Films etc, they lost their way.

    They should never had been allowed to do this, and should have concentrated on improving a third-world phone system fit for new technologies.

    If they want to waste money on paying for sport/films etc, then they should be totally financially separate. I know they are split off from OpenReach, but AFAIK BT is responsible for the exchanges and backhaul infrastructure, while OpenReach is responsible for the street infrastructure.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019