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Can't get decent broadband speeds because of where you live?
Tuesday 26 May 2009 11:05:18 by Sebastien Lahtinen

There are still users in Britain who can't get a fixed broadband connection because of where they live as their premises are too far from the telephone exchange, or in a few cases, their exchange doesn't support broadband yet. No matter what the cause, this part of the population has to resort to expensive solutions or suffer with dial-up speeds.

With the way the Internet is changing how we interact not only with our friends, but also with work, shopping, banking and government, being left behind in the broadband world is not a matter which can be taken lightly. Put simply, it 'costs more' to live in a pre-broadband world where you can't take advantage of special online offers.

The Digital Britain report is expected to outline plans for a Universal Service Obligation to deliver a 2Mbps service to the entire UK population by 2012, but we have a long way to go in tackling not only the notspots where no affordable broadband is available, but also slow-spots; areas of the country where you can't receive a service above 2 Mbps which are far more common.

In order to help engage in the debate on digital inclusion, we have set up Broadband Notspot to track the broadband notspots and slow-spots.

If you can't get affordable broadband (e.g. your only option is a £50/month wireless connection) or you can only receive a service below 2Mbps (because of your location; not your choice of service or provider), please register your problem getting broadband on the notspot site.


Posted by herdwick over 8 years ago
Good luck with your initiative, I hope you get more interest in doing something about it than previous similar efforts. Worth pointing out that a speed test of 1400k doesn't mean you don't have a 2M service, just up the road from me is a lady with 8128 sync and 480kbits/s speed tests ;-)
Posted by robbo462003 over 8 years ago
your test says my telephone number is invalid
Posted by jrawle over 8 years ago
Does the site cover people who are in an area with broadband, have a short line length, and whose neighbours have a good service, but can't sign up because of exchange capacity issues (e.g. Poplar exchange)?
Posted by AndrueC over 8 years ago
I still have my concerns over what 'minimum of 2Mb' really means. I'd like it to mean that you always have at least 2Mb of throughput available. Unfortunately I think it will probably end up being 'you can always sync at 2Mb or higher' which as herwick points out is not the same thing.

2Mb/24/7 is a good enough for anything that will save you money and therefore worth being covered by a USO.

The kind of 2Mb supplied by the likes of Tiscali OTOH is not worth what comes out of the rear end of a cow that's eaten some bad grass.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 8 years ago
The problems of Poplar if ongoing for longer than just a few weeks, would count, and is why we allow a comment.

On the 2Meg, any survey will have to accept some oddities due to people being confused about speeds. Once clusters arise we can expend more effort looking into issues, and cross referencing with other data.
Posted by Rroff over 8 years ago
Shame this doesn't include speeds when traffic managed :(
Posted by Roscoe7942 over 8 years ago
I average 1.8mbps except after 7pm weekdays when it reduces to sometimes as low as 500mbps I have just done a speed test and it is running at 2.3mbps although for how long this speed is maintained remains to be seen I wonder if the ISPs are taking note of your article
Posted by rogan8 over 8 years ago
The problems at Poplar have been ongoing for aoround a year and dont look like they will be resolved anytime soon.
Posted by wabbit1 over 8 years ago
BT line tester states I should receive 6.5Mbps but when I carry out speed tests I very rarely get above 2.1Mbps
I use my broadband for online gaming and keep getting frozen out of games due to my poor speed. Contract is less than 1 month old with BT, can I cancel and go back to SKY broadband?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 8 years ago
To Wabbit, unlikely. 2Meg is more than enough for gaming, points towards a latency issue more than a raw speed thing.

On Poplar, I understand some form of solution is on the way, but yesterday would be nice if you were in the situation.
Posted by AndrueC over 8 years ago
@wabbit:The standard BT postcode checker is known to be innaccurate. It's based on shaky data and estimates rather than hard facts about the line being queried

If you post your router stats to somewhere like the General forum we can tell you what your line is really capable of.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Well done on setting this up, anyone with slow speeds please do visit the site, putting pressure on the government, ofcom and the likes of BT is the only way i see this guaranteed 2Mb idea actually being close to reality.
Posted by SlimJ over 8 years ago
Good initiative, something needs to be done about slow/non-existant broadband! My village suffers from slow speeds and constant disconnections. Our Parish Council group are trying to get BT to fix the issue but nothing has been done yet. Useless.
Posted by amforbes over 8 years ago
Thanks for setting up this service hopefully it will open the eyes of the government to the extent of the problem with broadband in the UK.
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
quote from bbc news site.
"The research revealed that so-called notspots are not limited to rural communities with many in suburban areas, and even streets in major towns"
3 million homes apparently.
Posted by Jayprime over 8 years ago
My Broadband supply is supposed to be "up to 8Mbps".
Over the last week I have run a speed check 14 times, varying between mornings, between 10 and 11am, and evenings, and there has only been one single occasion when I have achieved a speed above 500kbps, and on three occasions it was below 125kbps!
Posted by Somerset over 8 years ago
Jayprime - 'up to 8M' is what it says. Slightly misleading though!
Posted by RobFlet over 8 years ago
I am on a 512k fixed line. The S/N on the line is awful (not the fault of any internal wiring, this has been checked). The figures show that an adaptive connection would most likely settle down to less than 512k! So, I am stuck with this ... I cannot use any iPlayers at all. The TV ads for "missed an episode", or "see the series" etc using "BBC iPlayer" etc really really REALLY annoy me!

Posted by cyberdoyle over 8 years ago
The plain fact is that the current legacy copper network cannot cope with the demands we are now making on it. The next gen network has to have a fibre to the home, then everyone can have what they want, when they need it and are prepared to pay for it. It needs to be owned by the people, not a telco wanting fatcat profits, or a government wanting to control content. Local councils should take a stand and get the funding for their areas maybe? dunno. I know the answer, but don't know the question.
Posted by Somerset over 8 years ago
People should be annoying their local council.
Posted by AndrueC over 8 years ago
@Jayprime:'Up to 8Mb' refers to what the technology is capable of on a variety of lines. ADSL speed has always been marketed as line quality dependant and every ISP makes that very clear.

If you post your router statistics to 'General' we can tell you what your line is actually capable of and perhaps get you a bit more speed.

Most likely you are just on a very long cable run and you should be pleased that ADSL even works.
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
I find it shocking my local MP is on BT's board and yet there is still no plans to fix the fact 3000 houses in her area cannot get a synch due to line length.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 8 years ago
shows how the data is patchy, samknows map says 4000 houses in country can't get adsl, but you say there are 3000 in your area and I know there are hundreds in mine, I hope the data is corrected soon, there must be many more not registered, which proves the BT statistics used by government is flawed. They do not provide connection to 99.6% of the country as the govt believe.
Posted by AndrueC over 8 years ago
@chrysalis:She should have written it up as an expense. There'd be no problem with funding then :)
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
Cyberdoyle - The "copper network" is entirely capeable of handling the "demands". Core bandwidh for many ISP's can't, but that is an entirely seperate issue. Very very few exchanges have even mildly overloaded capacity these days, even.

Wabbit - I'd be checking your wiring, if I were you.
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
dawn falcon sorry thats an arrogant statement to make, copper clearly cannot universally handle demands else there would be no complaints. I suspect your thinking is well it can provide 24mbit so its capable, ignoring the fact the mean average is below 4.5mbit and that there is millions of lines unable to get 2mbit.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Dawn is kind of correct but wrong in another regard... The copper network could give us all decent speeds and quality. Most issues are down to people living miles from the exchange. In theory atleast if every small village had its own exchange the copper network would be good enough.... Trouble is BT are unlikely to spend billions on loads of new exchanges, this is where Dawn is wrong and i agree with others some kind of investment is needed. Things as they are can not carry on, money either way needs to be spent to improve speeds and reliability to those that live in poor broadband areas.
Posted by Somerset over 8 years ago
With FTTC the cabinet becomes the exchange.
Posted by dragon1945 over 8 years ago
I'd like an answer to my question. Why do BT only rate my line as 512 Kbps, when Pipex Homecall gave me 1.5 MB? This was before Tiscali took over and it dropped to 330 Kbps. Tiscali said I couldn't expect any better because BT rated my line at up to 512 Kbps. The fact I had been getting 1.5 MB before they took over didn't interest them. On to Talktalk and 1.6 MB. After a recent speed drop their Techie guy did something or other, and I now have 1.79 MB. BT still say I can only expect 512 Kbps. Why? Same Exchange, same line, same everything.
Posted by wassisname over 8 years ago
britain is fast falling behind the rest of the world considering we are one of the worlds most advanced countrys,and we should be aiming for a country wide minimum of 8mbps,technology's and software the internet in general are in some cases already needing minimum speeds of 2mbps just to keep up
Posted by otester over 8 years ago
The majority of people who suffer poor speeds do because of poor choice of ISP, so stop moaning and go do some research or be grateful.

Mainstream ones (BT/Tiscali etc.) are notorious for their poor quality service.

With other mainstream providers I was stuck @ 2Mbps (up to 8Mbps package), moving to smaller more professional ISPs means I can now get 3.5Mbps. Being 4km+ for the exchange, this is an achievement IMO.
Posted by SPOTTY over 8 years ago
How's this for paranoia....
I Believe BT are working locally towards the IP Telephone service conversion(due in my area in 2010 I believe) Mysteriously my Broadband has improved 30% in the last couple of months(can't knock it!) My suspicion is they are upgradng the adsl pair to the IP telephone standard and will switch pairs on delivery day leaving adsl migrated to the old telephone pairs...this may not be technically feasible... a little knowledge is a dangerous thing... but life can be a funny thing? Any comments or soothing noises please?
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"With FTTC the cabinet becomes the exchange."

Exactly, which was partly my point and partly what i was agreeing with Dawn about. Most that suffer poor speeds on the copper network only suffer as they are miles from the exchange, its not because as such it is a rubbish system... Thats where investment is needed, either further in the current network or fibre.
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
dragon1945: AFAK BT have their own special 'profile' for testing lines, that is whay you get that speed...

Others use a much more advanced method and use newer equipment, so you will get what *they* expect it to do, not what BT thinks!!

you can check here...
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
I can only guess that tiscali's downfall was caused by stupidly bad choice of DSLAMs, or what??
My mates service was truly great, until the day came for the new service.... 'gone pete tong' is an understatement...
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"I can only guess that tiscali's downfall was caused by stupidly bad choice of DSLAMs, or what??"

No there downfall was just providing a crap service and not having the sense to accept a resonable offer for the company when it was first made... Or in short they were greedy and provided crap.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
BT's speed tester is usually /extremely/ conservative.

And with FTTC, a lot of the "not" spots *will* go away. In some cases, this is going to require extra work for long line lenghts to the cabinets, but the vast majority of issues are related to distance to exchange, not distance to cabinet.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"And with FTTC, a lot of the "not" spots *will* go away."

That remains to be seen.

quote"but the vast majority of issues are related to distance to exchange, not distance to cabinet."

I would had agreed but now the rates for their FTTC have been confirmed its possible some will still suffer slow uprates. Again depends on how many cabinets BT will be installing up and down the land and each persons distance to them.
Posted by otester over 8 years ago
From what I've seen, people even on the outskirts of the exchange (4km+) like myself, are less than a mile from the nearest cabinet.

So a minimum of 90% of the possible FTTC speed should be expected.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"From what I've seen, people even on the outskirts of the exchange (4km+) like myself, are less than a mile from the nearest cabinet."

I know for certainty that is not true for a small village not that far from where i live, one half can only sync at 512k max and the other half get 256k. There is no exchange in the village and the cabinet is located outside of the village.
Posted by otester over 8 years ago
My village is cut in two, each half connected to other villages exchanges. Two cabinets in each half.

I guess it is differs from place to place.
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