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Users complaining about Demon Home service
Friday 23 September 2005 15:00:00 by Andrew Ferguson

Demon announced its £19.99 2Mbps ADSL service back in June 2005, which was combined with free upgrades for existing Home customers. The upgrades have being steadily taking place, and users were happy, unfortunately over the last few weeks the service has started to degrade during the busier times of the day. We would like to say, that we believe the issues are only affecting users on the home based tariffs, we believe the quality of service on the business products is as most customers would expect.

The time periods where speeds seem to suffer are around 6pm until around 1am during the week, and users are reporting similar issues across most of the weekend. Reports of downloads running at 300 kilo bits per second on the up to 2Mbps (2000 kilo bits per second) service are not unheard of, and a number of people are reporting significant increases in the ping times (latency), making online gaming difficult to impossible. We approached Demon over these reports and are pleased to reproduce their full statement below:

The early adopters of Broadband experienced an extremely fast service largely due to the fact that only a limited number of users would be sharing the bandwidth at the same time. As more and more users convert to Broadband, the bandwidth utilisation increases and some customers may experience higher latency than they have been used to on their DSL service during peak times.

The Broadband market is going through another period of significant change largely as a result of the upgrades from 576Kbps to 2Mbps. People are downloading larger files, streaming movies and generally enjoying the Internet more. However, during this period of adjustment as bandwidth limits are increased, at times, users of Broadband services may experience service levels that are more reflective of the contention ratio they are paying for. It is our business policy to monitor customer and network usage 24 by 7 and we regularly add additional bandwidth as and when required.

Less than 0.5% of our customers have called us regarding latency and as an ISP with more than 100,000 customers, we will always have a small number of customers who are not happy with their service and we regret any inconvenience that is currently being caused to your readers. We will continue to investigate these complaints and liaise with the customers directly to address their issues.

We sell a number of different broadband products aimed at different types of Internet usage from very low contention levels where use of the Internet is absolutely business critical through to lower cost, higher contention products which are more suited to less time-sensitive applications. We always encourage customers to ensure that they select the most appropriate product to suit their needs.

THUS/Demon statement on current Home service issues

It would appear that Demon are suggesting that to those customers not willing to see their latency increase during peak times, that they reconsider their product options, and perhaps regrade to another service. For most home users, we expect this will simply translate into people changing provider. While all broadband products targeted at the home market have contention somewhere in the loop, most people are happy to accept that this will see download speed varying at the busy times, but people are less tolerant of congestion causing increased latency. Some service providers are known to prioritise gaming type traffic so that it works well even at peak times, perhaps at the expense of downloads, other providers are using a combination of stealth usage limits, fair use policies and other systems to control peak time usage.

We hope that the current problems with the Demon Home services will prove to be short lived, and just become another short term capacity issue, like has happened to most services providers at some point in the five years that ADSL has been widely available in the UK. We will be keeping an eye on the situation. With the emergence of ever faster broadband connections, how providers cope with widely varying usage patterns will perhaps set products apart more than the simple headline price in the future.


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