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Poll Results: Are up to speeds good enough?
Friday 28 March 2014 17:15:19 by Andrew Ferguson

The start of a recent Which! campaign that is now over halfway towards its goal of 40,000 signatures in support of a broadband speed guarantee reminded us of a poll we ran just over a year ago on this very topic, and having just run it again with over 1,400 responses we now have the results.

Poll results from over 1,400 people on how close they get to their advertised broadband speed
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The pie charts are based on the 2014 responses, but we could easily have combined them with the 2013 responses, to give a poll of over 2,800 responses, since the two polls gave very similar responses even though taken thirteen months apart. The similarity is no surprise as there has been no massive regulatory changes to force any providers hand in terms of how they advertise their services.

The comparison with the advertised speed, where 12.7% are getting faster speeds than the adverts is an endorsement for providers generally following the 10% rule from ASA/BCAP which requires providers to advertise a figure that one in ten can actually get. In the couple of years since this rule has appeared it has done nothing to improve actual speeds though, and among those who do not follow every broadband change some explanation is needed when switching provider as they are now worried a new service will be slower.

Poll results when people were asked to compare sales estimate with actual experience
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Getting the personalised estimate that people are told when attempting to sign-up to a broadband service correct can be challenging, and whether you think the above results are good or bad depends on whether you are taking a realist view or are chasing headlines. In the headline chasing world almost five out of ten get speeds below their personal estimate. Our forums though show people worrying when they see estimates being refined as actual line capabilities are fed back into the various checkers, with many making the false assumption that the checkers actually represent a speed cap for their service. The challenge for the broadband industry is to explain the simple reality that broadband speeds will vary based on many factors and this even applies to those on a full fibre optic connection (FTTH/FTTP) since the connection speed may be fixed but just as with the Virgin Media cable market, the actions of others on their network means that performance can vary from day to day or second to second. Even if a broadband operator with one hundred thousand 200 Mbps customers was to have 20 Tbps (20,000 Gbps) of capacity on their network, the Internet outside the providers network would be the bottleneck.

Poll results from over 1,400 people when asked if they would pay a small premium for a broadband speed guarantee
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The idea of a broadband speed guarantee is very appealing, not just to the average consumer who is used to a 500ml bottled drink being very close to the labelled volume, but we also suspect that some of the desire for guarantees may be driven by the broadband switching market where ensuring a steady stream of switchers is key to the commercial well being of many comparison sites. Our poll does show that over half of people are interested in a guarantee even if it carries a price premium, the question really is what sort of guarantee would be technically and financially possible. Recent usage data from TalkTalk suggests that at peak times usage may peak at 1 Mbps per user, but if the superfast fibre based services were to be sold with a 1 Mbps guarantee compared to the current up to 38 Mbps we suspect many would presume this meant that streaming and other services stood no chance of working, plus getting people to upgrade from an existing ADSL2+ service would be a challenge. The nature of the Internet with all of us accessing data with little regard to its global location means that if a guarantee was to exist it could really only be a very basic one for services hosted within the broadband providers own infrastructure.

Comments

Posted by mervl over 3 years ago
Hmm, a guarantee. "Where there's blame there's a claim". I can hear the lip-smacking at the prospect of getting yet more money-for-nothing.
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
So... the adverts are rubbish but the estimated speeds are bang on or actually under what you'll get?

Sounds like all they need to do is change the adverts and people will be happy?
Posted by TheEulerID over 3 years ago
Do Which know what they mean by a guaranteed speed? If it's just sync, then all companies need do just define a product name, produce a (conservative) speed estimate with conditions (like wiring inspection). Customers could cancel if the speed wasn't achieved. Largely what the Ofcom code already says.
Posted by TheEulerID over 3 years ago
If Which mean something more sophisticated, then it gets really, really difficult. There are just too many variables. You can't possibly guarantee speeds across the whole Internet. Even using benchmark sites is a problem - how do you control for all the variables at the user end like wired vs wifi, only one
Posted by IncognitoUK over 3 years ago
Which are calling for:

"We’re calling on broadband providers to:

1. Give customers written speed estimates at the start of the contract, expressed as a range and an accurate estimate for your home within that range.

2. Allow people to exit contracts without penalty at any point if they can't get the minimum speed.
Posted by IncognitoUK over 3 years ago
3. Fix loss of connection as quickly as possible and refund people for loss of service.

4. Cut out the jargon - give consumers information they understand and take responsibility for fixing problems, without the need for multiple contacts."

http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/broadband-speed-service/know-the-issue/
Posted by IncognitoUK over 3 years ago
(1) is already done, (2) would be a nightmare to implement: if Mrs Miggins claims that she can't get 2Mbps, whose fault is it (and prove it)? (3) is there any utility which refunds people for service interruption? (4) it's not jargon, it's complex technology. Educate the masses, don't patronise everyone,
Posted by IncognitoUK over 3 years ago
Moderators - can you adjust the dumb 600 character limit, please? Posting in multiple chunks is a pain in the ass. If a higher cap is abused, you can deal with spammers or retards by simply banning them.
Posted by TheEulerID over 3 years ago
To be fair, most utilities do have some form of compensation to extended loss of service. With electricity it starts after 18 hours, albeit the scheme doesn't apply in bad weather. I would expect any ISP would refund for extended service loss, although it might require a formal complaint.

However, much of the devil is in the detail and it's immensely complicated.
Posted by chilting over 3 years ago
Advertising for broadband based on speed is clearly meaningless and should not allowed.
However, it should be perfectly possible for all ISP's to provide a personalised guaranteed speed estimate and this would be a great benefit to customers.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
The vast majority of orders since the bulk of orders are via provides signed up to the ofcom code of practice do provide a personal speed estimate already
Posted by kojack over 3 years ago
The best option for customer and provider is for the cancellation of contracts altogether. That way if you don’t get the speed or the service you can move without penalties. The funny thing is I have been with TalkTalk for about a couple of months now, my speed has been going up and down like a yoyo, you phone and explain what speed you’re getting and they say this is the best speed your line can support, when this is incorrect as before it dropped I was getting double the speed.
Posted by kojack over 3 years ago
People are being misled regarding the real speed their line can support, for instance you change providers and the open reach engineer comes out, but before he’s come into your home to check your line, the line has already been throttled by the new provider, to what they want you to have, instead of setting your line to the full speed they supply and seeing what your line can support, isn’t this why we are all told they test your line over a ten day period, so why test your line when the provider has already set it.
Posted by kojack over 3 years ago
The code of practise by Ofcom is a joke the only re-address is to Ombudsman, who are paid by the providers you are complaining about, no one is going to bite the hand that feeds it, are they? The Ombudsman’s code of practise is that a provider only has to provide 1mb for them to deem the provider is providing an adequate service, when your line can support a far greater speed, for instance 20mb. There is no re-address for a customer or compensation when the provider is in the wrong.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Kojack I think you are saying you do not like DLM systems.

On the ombudsman I doubt complainers would pay the few hundred pound to have their complaint dealt with
Posted by kojack over 3 years ago
Like I said do away with contracts altogether and you cut out all the middle men and guess what problem solved customers will be left with company's who can provide the service customers can expect. But most people don't Realize that Thinkbroadband make money out of advertisement from the very companies we complain about where your site would be if it was a perfect system where customers could move without penalties.
Posted by kojack over 3 years ago
Dynamic Line Management hasn't work for me I say let a human doe his Job after that's what I am paying for.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
There are providers that do simple one month contracts for ADSL2+ services, just you pay a little more as migration fees etc are paid up front rather than spread across the contract.

Posted by davidinnotts over 3 years ago
"...almost five out of ten get speeds below their personal estimate."

So the estimate is a fair average speed, then. Sounds good to me.
Posted by davidinnotts over 3 years ago
More important is the issue no-one has brought up - if a guarantee is to be given, the caveats must be fair. In particular, the quoted minimum speed would have to be where the modem is plugged directly into the master socket (via a filter if needed) and the computer into the modem via a cat5 cable, and with no wifi in use. This eliminates those in-home issues which can slow down the connection. Then Which?'s idea of a guarantee with opt-outs would be good.
Posted by kojack over 3 years ago
I have tried wired and wireless and have found that I have never lost any speed at all, the usual propaganda.
Posted by TheEulerID over 3 years ago
@kojack

You may not lose speed, but I certainly do. Wired I get 50mbps, WiFi next to the router and I get 40mbps+, but move to the living room and it's more like 15mbps. If you have truly high speed broadband, you'd need 5Ghz WiFi to get close.

This is the problem - WiFi speeds are dependent on local conditions like signal strength and congestion.
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
"Dynamic Line Management hasn't work for me I say let a human doe his Job after that's what I am paying for. "

Is it?

Is that what your price covers?
Posted by chilting over 3 years ago
Pulborough exchange offers a good example where customers are loosing out on speed. It is a 20th century exchange but with two providers offering ADSL2. All the customers using BT wholesale lines are loosing out. If Which want to make a difference to the broadband market they should be highlighting these issues.
Posted by Dixinormous over 3 years ago
@Chilting Um the people on BT Wholesale bought 'up to' 8Mb. If they aren't happy with it they go to the providers offering ADSL 2+. People on that, presumably your, exchange have a choice.

By that token everyone who can't receive FTTC is losing out, and Which should highlight that too?
Posted by TheEulerID over 3 years ago
@chitling
On the bright side, Pulborough is a pretty place and Alexandra Bastedo, one of the most gorgeous actresses to ever appear on the TV, runs an animal sanctuary there.
Anyway, are you seriously suggesting Which ought to be concerned at an exchange where they have choice?
Posted by TheEulerID over 3 years ago
Oh dear - I just looked at the sanctuary's web site and, very sadly, Alexandra Bastedo died in January. That's sad - and makes me feel just a bit old.
Posted by chilting over 3 years ago
@Dixinormous
Yes, but my point is that many of those who brought up to 8Mbps probably didn't realize that they could get up to 24Mbps simply by using a different ISP. A very large proportion of the general public have a limited grasp of the way broadband is delivered to them.
Posted by chilting over 3 years ago
@TheEuler
Alexandra Bastedo is sadly missed by all of us in West Chiltington and Pulborough. The animal sanctuary continues to care for many animals and is a wonderful legacy in her memory.
Posted by chilting over 3 years ago
@TheEuler
Yes, I think Which should be concerned that customers are not choosing the best speed available to them. BT have been dragging their feet on ADSL2 upgrades. A bit of pressure from Which and the rest of the the media might speed them up a bit.


Posted by davidinnotts over 3 years ago
Which? are always concerned that people are being deliberately confused over choices even when the market isn't confusing anyway. And the campaign's object is to give the user an opt-out if promises aren't kept. IncognitoUK sums it up well. But, chilting, people will always think speed is good and want it.
Posted by davidinnotts over 3 years ago
The problem with the adverts is misdirection and broken promises, so the Which? campaign is a good idea - especially if it's as successful as their other recent campaigns on different issues.

I reckon that most people are happy with what they've got (if it's working for them) and won't switch until something makes them unhappy - either poor value or a lying ad.
Posted by michaels_perry over 3 years ago
When we changed we were not given an 'estimate' of expected speed at all, though BT have recorded, wrongly, that they told us 'up to 2 Mbps'. Fact is that we have a bery variable service, sometimes more and sometimes less than that and nobody knows why it varies so much.
We do not have ADSL2+, merely ADSL Max as many rural exchanges are not 21CN equipped and will not be now.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
@michaels_perry 96% of UK households have option of ADSL2+ via TalkTalk or someone using their wholesale service. Have you explored that option to get faster speeds?

Also what is the line attenuation.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
@mp
Not to mention that the 21CN WBC rollout is still ongoing. It hasn't stopped just because the FTTC rollout is taking place.
Posted by dragon1945 over 3 years ago
I was getting 2.1 MB a year ago.Now I get 1.92.I pay for "up to 8 MB".Talktalk want me to pay £10 p.m.extra to get Fibre.All cables are under ground,so where are the trenches? They wouldn't even renew the 50 year old Copper.The woman said I would be connected at the Exchange.But to what? Nearest possible Fibre 2 miles+ away.How can I find exactly where Fibre has been laid? She said I would get around 16 MB on Fibre.
Posted by dragon1945 over 3 years ago
PS Fibre plus 2 + miles ancient copper = what? Phone calls get dumped and BB connection frequently drops . When will we really get Fibre?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
The 'fibre' services run from the exchange to the green street cabinet you are served by.

What does https://www.btwholesale.com/includes/adsl/main.html give you for your speeds when you use the full address part of the checker.
Posted by roughbeast over 3 years ago
Always have got more than the paid-for speed with Virgin Media 24/7. With 50M I got 52Mb, with 100Mb I got 104Mb, with 120Mb I got 126Mb and with 152Mb I get 160Mb. Virgin Media always allow generously for overheads in their download speed. They have done that with up speed in the 152Mb package.I get 12.2Mb on a 12Mb headline figure.
I guess it is possible to get lower than expected speeds with VM in high utilisation areas, but these are quickly being upgraded with new Cisco cards and re-segmentation.
Posted by Dixinormous over 3 years ago
Looking at some of the reports in the forum you have an interesting definition of 'quickly'. Cat C resegs seem to take several months.
Posted by FTTH over 3 years ago
@dragon1945
You never get Fibre.
You get FIBREBROADBAND, which is copper. Not Fibre, at all... None of the customers network is Fibre.

@IncognitoUK
'Educate the masses, don't patronise everyone'

I agree, stop the deliberate marketing misdirection.
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