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Poll Results: Do you consider your broadband fit for purpose?
Friday 25 April 2014 10:05:06 by Andrew Ferguson

Our latest poll asked people whether they considered their broadband connection fit for purpose and over 1150 people responded with their opinion.

Responses from consumers on whether their broadband is fit for purpose
Click image for larger version

The results reveal that 62.4% of those responding as home users consider their broadband fit for purpose, but of those responding as a business or mixed residential/business use this falls to just 40.6%.

While the overall sample size gives us a good degree of confidence we should urge some caution on the size of the business sample which was just 266 votes. With something like 5 million businesses in the UK, a response rate of 1 in 4 is roughly in line with the ratio of businesses to residential properties.

Responses from business and home workers on whether their broadband is fit for purpose
Click image for larger version

We could draw a conclusion with just 1.1% saying they cannot get broadband that some form of broadband is available to almost everyone, but since this was an online poll it would be dangerous to put any faith in that figure without further questioning of people.

The difference between the voting for how fit for purpose their broadband connection is suggests that business needs are different to consumers. The needs will also vary greatly depending on what the core business of a firm is, e.g. a financial adviser may be looking for an ultra low latency connection so they manage their stock own portfolio while a small high street shop might just need a connection that lets them order stock while a games studio might be wanting to lever cloud computing and require ultra-fast symmetric speeds.

While we know many small businesses are perfectly served by the large number of packages that are really consumer grade services with VAT invoicing, for those where it would be costly if their broadband was offline for a few days, we would recommend considering paying for higher levels fault resolution and planning to have a back up connection available.

Should we be expressing outrage that of the home based respondents 35% said their connection was not fit for purpose? Maybe, but with availability of superfast broadband running at between 65 to 75% depending on your outlook on life it looks entirely feasible that if the various local authority projects and continuing commercial investment deliver on their promises that this 35% should decrease over time.

With superfast broadband from Virgin Media or a provider using the Openreach available to around 18 to 19 million premises and take-up running at around 4.7 million (those cable customers on a superfast product and FTTC that is superfast) there is still lots of scope for people to improve their speeds if they want and can also afford it.

Comments

Posted by Joppy over 3 years ago
Would have been nice to see a further breakdown of percentages per ISP and what the customers used their connection for. Is there just one or two isp's that are skewing the results?

For example, my Virgin Media cable broadband was only fit for purpose around 40 to 50% of the time I was with them. Left them two years ago and not had one issue with the new supplier.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Would need a much larger sample size to give a decent break down for specific ISP and extra questions of course.

In its current form this is a poll that is simple enough to rerun every 18 months or so.
Posted by JNeuhoff over 3 years ago
I am not sure how 'fit for purpose' is defined here. For our small business, BTs copper VDSL services would certainly not be 'fit for purpose', let alone slower forms of DSL flavors.
Posted by AndrueC over 3 years ago
@JNeuhoff: I'm not sure what your last sentence is getting at. All copper based services are provided by BT (outside of Hull). Or are you trying to suggest that nothing BT provides over copper is adequate for your business?

If that's the case you are a candidate for a leased line. No-one would expect a contended service provided over the generic local loop to satisfy high-end businesses.
Posted by AndrueC over 3 years ago
(cont'd). At my last job we had two bonded ADSL lines giving 4Mb/s down and 1.5Mb/s up. That was enough to support four software developers working as part of a trans-Atlantic team. The reliability was an issue sometimes but it did the job.

In my opinion most small businesses don't need high speeds. Those few that do should be willing to pay for a leased line since presumably they are in a business that is heavily reliant on their connection. Surely most traffic is email and perhaps remote desktop access. Neither of those need much bandwidth only reliability.
Posted by AndrueC over 3 years ago
(final) Ultimately we have to ask whether we expect a generic local loop to satisfy the requirements of everyone. Haven't businesses always had to pay extra to get better services?
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
An issue often found with businesses is that they take on technology which is inappropriate for the infrastructure that is available to them.
e.g. a consultant recommends to put your data in the "cloud" to reduce capital costs for storage and data management. Yet as part of their analysis they gloss over the connectivity requirement. Resulting in poor reliability, poor data management and poor service to customers.

Hey presto! Internet services are not fit for purpose.
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
A complete analysis would have said that data should have been retained on site as infrastructure is not yet ready to support cloud, invest in servers. For the data transfers that are required the connectivity infrastructure is adequate.
Posted by AndrueC over 3 years ago
Good point about cloud storage. I'd neglected that and I definitely see a potential trap there.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
How fit for purpose is defined, was down to those who voted i.e. only they can judge if their connection does want they want.
Posted by TheEulerID over 3 years ago
Whilst the size of the sample is statistically important, it is as nothing compared to the fact that this is a self-selecting sample. If you want something which can be considered representative of the national perception, then what is required is a randomised sampling which is, of course, an expensive exercise. I would urge lots of caution as self-selecting samples are notoriously prone to distortions.
Posted by joe_pineapples over 3 years ago
I was about 2yrs ago when I could get 10meg, not so much now its about 8.7, with a seemingly degraded line and I cannot do anything about.
Posted by Unknown101 over 3 years ago
joe_pineapple then report it to your ISP an get a SFI or broadband boost engineer possibly a HR disconnection somewhere or some degraded wiring along the line. Possibly need a line card reset to override DLM.
Posted by JNeuhoff over 3 years ago
@AndrueC:
"Surely most traffic is email and perhaps remote desktop access."

I am not sure what kind of IT business yours was, but there is lot more many businesses do with their lines.

We wouldn't rely on a poor BT super-slow 4MB DSL line for remote desktops.

In fact, for many businesses symmetrical high-speed lines are of the utmost importance, not necessarily high-volume data traffic. There is a big market gap between small businesses (who don't need, nor can afford leased-lines) and leased-lines large coorporate users which simply isn't being served by BT.
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
^ EFM

Symmetric 2-35Mbps
Posted by New_Londoner over 3 years ago
@JNeuhoff
It's only a big market if it can be served in a cost-effective manner, allowing the provider(s) to make a profit. Just because someone has an unfulfilled need does not mean a market exists.

It's also not correct to assume all small businesses cannot afford leased lines, as those in data-intensive sectors such as financial services and media certainly can. (Those that can't are not really businesses, at least not for long).
Posted by New_Londoner over 3 years ago
Contd.
So there may indeed be a market gap for some small businesses, whether it is in fact a viable market is less clear.
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
But not available in a lot of areas
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
that was a reference to EFM
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
Not many products are available in all areas, but it is a product and it is serving needs, I've used it myself.

And New_Londoner is right, if you cannot afford a piece of the puzzle that is crucial to your business you don't stay in business long.

If your business model hasn't catered for everything you need to run your business its a bad model.
Posted by JNeuhoff over 3 years ago
"It's also not correct to assume all small businesses cannot afford leased lines"

That shows how ignorant posters can be here. I suggest small-business readers here should get their own leased-line quotes, if available, to see for themselves.
Posted by New_Londoner over 3 years ago
@JNeuhoff
So you're suggesting all small businesses have low turnover, margins? That may be true of some, but there are plenty others in high value sectors, not all businesses fit the typical media stereotype.

So of course some can and do afford leased lines, just as some have very expensive offices in the City of London or West End.
Posted by JNeuhoff over 3 years ago
Why is New_Londoner so desparate to defend his leased lines business? As usual, you are reading non-sense stuff into comments such as "all small businesses cannot afford leased lines" which nobody ever said.

If you are happy with your BT leased line and willing to waste your money, go for it!

Fact is this small poll shows that the majority of small businesses and/or home/business users consider their broadband service as not fit-for-purpose, you can argue you like, deal with it!

Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
"Fact is this small poll shows that the majority of small businesses and/or home/business users consider their broadband service as not fit-for-purpose" - True it does, but what it doesn't ask is what they are using? Is a home product suitable for business purposes? Sometimes, but sometimes not, which might be the result of the poll
Posted by Deezel over 3 years ago
Not fit for purpose in our village still on an old clapped out market 1 exchange Code: NESLN ,paying 20 quid a month to get half a meg peak times , I should have stopped on dial up ,adsl sucks around here !!
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
So the results are as you'd expect really. The majority see their home broadband fit for home use. The majority do not see their home broadband fit for home/business use. Pretty obvious really as that isn't what its designed for, get a business product to also dual use for home!
Posted by AndrueC over 3 years ago
@JNeuhoff: 'We wouldn't rely on a poor BT super-slow 4MB DSL line for remote desktops.'

RDP is very efficient. 4Mb/s is more than enough unless you're doing graphical work and actually moving bitmaps around. Unlike a lot of remote access protocols RDP sends metadata. Ie; it sends an instruction to draw a button rather than sending the bitmap of a button. It tells your machine to close a window and relies on your machine to render what was underneath it.
Posted by AndrueC over 3 years ago
(cont'd) There's loads more information here:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/rds/archive/2009/03/03/top-10-rdp-protocol-misconceptions-part-1.aspx

My new job is an even better example. When working from home the machine I remote into is in Birmingham. I have to access the VPN via HQ in Yorkshire over an ADSL2+ connection. My machine in B'ham is using that same connection to access the server for the client/server software I'm developing as are the machines of two colleagues. It all works fine most of the time although the clients sometimes suffer a bit RDP rarely stutters.
Posted by JNeuhoff over 3 years ago
@AndrueC: I used to do RDP for years on a slow 7mbps line, and it was just not workable most of the time, possibly because it was over an old un-reliable ADSL line. However, it did work when we used a long-distance wireless service which basically bypassed the BT infrastructure.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
@jneuhoff Have used RDP for international work for some years, from the days when all I had was a 2 Mbps connection.

Basic Linux shell access can survive with a lot less.

Posted by michaels_perry over 3 years ago
It always amusses me when I read these sorts of comment - "slow 7mbps"? That's extremely fast to most rural users as we are largely still stuck with ADSL Max because smaller exchanges (the majority situation in rural areas) have not been brought up to even 21CN standards and none of us are holding our breath for when fibre-based systems might reach out to where the need is greatest (where the speed is slowest and contention highest).
Posted by michaels_perry over 3 years ago
I note that there is no distinction being made between the delivery methods in use. Those with a fibre-based connection are, I would suggest, more likely to be satisfied with performance for domestic use. Some businesses may be still stuck on ADSL services, especially those in rural areas not yet benefiting from 'intervention area' resolution.
It would be intersting and most useful to separate out the copper- and fibre-base results - but did you ask that?
Posted by JNeuhoff over 3 years ago
@andrew:
"Basic Linux shell access can survive with a lot less."

Agree, we only use Linux systems. But some the the remote systems are unfortunately running Windows. I wouldn't recommend slow DSL-lines for RDP applications for anything other than the most basic tasks.
Posted by JNeuhoff over 3 years ago
@michaels_perry: Time to start your own campaign to get an alternative provider into your location? Or move office to somewhere else?

It is sad reality with the ever widening digital gap and postcode lottery when it comes to broadband provisions! We are not using BT.
Posted by graybeard over 3 years ago
hi this comment too long
Posted by graybeard over 3 years ago
Only problem with my standard broadband (FTTC available not selected) Microsoft Office 365 in the default configuration and open and close large word files with their "OneDrive" (and if you let it Office insists on opening the cloud not the local version)
Posted by AndrueC over 3 years ago
@JNeuhoff: Then you had a whole other problem. RDP simply doesn't need that kind of speed. Read the blog. Most of the time the bandwidth is a few tens of kB a second. RDP is what Windows Remote Assistance is built on and a lot of people have found that very useful for several years now.

/Read that blog/

The only time RDP might consistently use high levels of bandwidth is if you're actually working with graphics (ie;a designer or artist). For everyone else it'll probably work (just about) over an analogue modem.
Posted by AndrueC over 3 years ago
(cont'd) in fact just looking on the web and yes, RDP even has an experience option for 'Modem (56kbps)' and people have used it. I can find several old articles on the web (early 2000s) from being saying it's a bit naff but it works.

Look at what I said in my previous response. I was using RDP over an ADSL2+ connection last week. It was absolutely fine even though it was sharing the connection with other applications.
Posted by JNeuhoff over 3 years ago
@AndrueC: You must have a very stable DSL line, or you are not doing intensive hi-res graphical sessions and/or applications. Our experience was different, it always felt very sluggish.

Coming back to the article: We wouldn't cloud-based computing either over a slow DSL wire, especially not when large uploads are involved. There are just loads of applications for which DSL simply isn't the right choice.
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
"I wouldn't recommend slow DSL-lines for RDP applications for anything other than the most basic tasks." lol that's simply not true, I'm another user that uses RDP on an 2Mbps ADSL line with no issue at all (Windows). People please bear in mind JNeuhoff will do whatever possible to run down BT so I'd take responses with a pinch of salt ;)
Posted by JNeuhoff over 3 years ago
@GMAN99:
The poll results are very clear, get over it, good luck with your slow DSL wire.
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
They are, as is my post about using a home line for business use. Its obvious why the results are as they are.

Happy with the home line for home line use - Check
Happy with the home line for business use - Not checked (for some)

Pretty obvious really that some business activities will not fair well on a home line :|
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Actually there is data in those who responded purely in the business sense, but the numbers are too small to talk about, hence merged in with the SOHO type stuff.
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
But do we know what they were using? If they are using a home product for business use I can imagine they might not be happy
Posted by JNeuhoff over 3 years ago
@GMAN99: Are you still arguinbg over the poll results? Even for home users, ONLY 62.4% consider their broadband fit for purpose. Whether home or business user, there is a big proportion who consider their broadband is NOT fit for purpose.

Just take a look at the poor customer satifaction rates at e.g. http://www.ispreview.co.uk/review/reviews/7/reviews.html or http://www.thinkbroadband.com/isps.html to see why!
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
Why are you assuming all of those that voted use BT as an ISP?
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
reviews often have a natural bias, in that when things work well people generally don´t report it and when it doesn´t work people do...
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