Grant Shapps and his BIG group of MPs have started a new campaign this time aimed at resolving the 'British Broadband rip-off', or put simply the lobby group wants the rules around broadband advertising torn up and the speed that the slowest 10% on a product to be used in its advertising and also an automatic right to compensation for providers don't meet promises and making contract cancellation easier.
"It’s a scandal that official watchdog rules allow Internet Service Providers to claim download speeds which only 1 in 10 of their customers actually receive.
Consumers expect refunds when their trains are late or a flight is delayed, yet there is no similar compensation for lousy internet services which fail to deliver the speeds advertised.
Given that a decent broadband connection is viewed as the fourth utility by many British families, this overcharging and under-delivery is a scandal every bit as big as PPI miss-selling and the VW Exhaust emission scandal.Grant Shapps MP talking to The Telegraph
The current advertising rules require providers to be able to show that 10% of those buying a service get above the advertised speed, and well over 90% of UK broadband connections are with a provider who is signed up to the broadband speeds voluntary code of practice, which means that before people part with financial details they will have received a personal speed estimate and they are free to cancel the contract if speed promises are not fulfilled.
A change to drop advertised speed to the bottom 10% is a massive change in direction, and comes just days after Ed Vaizey MP called for broadband speeds advertising to be reconsidered, though a more measured approach based around a median (average) result in advertising was what we thought was meant.
With our extensive speed test results we are able to provide some much needed data on UK providers into a debate that has been waged across the globe, i.e. broadband speed issues are not a uniquely British problem. Based on the speed test results for March 2016, we have published the speed of the slowest 10%, median speeds and fastest 10% for 25 providers (we have dropped upload speeds to avoid a table too full of figures, but the full table is still available.
|25 Fastest Median Speed UK Broadband Providers in March 2016
(ordered by median speed)
Smaller providers without enough geographic data samples are not included
|Provider||Download Speed of slowest 10%||Median Download||Download Speed of top 10%|
|Venus||24.6 Mbps||97.7 Mbps||462.4 Mbps|
|B4RN||9.4 Mbps||47.6 Mbps||290.8 Mbps|
|Virgin Media||7.4 Mbps||41.3 Mbps||102.8 Mbps|
|Hyperoptic||9.2 Mbps||40.5 Mbps||232.1 Mbps|
|Wessex Internet||16.8 Mbps||29.1 Mbps||54.6 Mbps|
|Gigaclear||14.8 Mbps||28 Mbps||214.2 Mbps|
|Vodafone Broadband||4.8 Mbps||28 Mbps||59 Mbps|
|Metronet UK||3.2 Mbps||27.9 Mbps||84 Mbps|
|Keycom||1.2 Mbps||22.4 Mbps||98.8 Mbps|
|AAISP||2.5 Mbps||16 Mbps||72.5 Mbps|
|Zen Internet||2.1 Mbps||14.8 Mbps||61.5 Mbps|
|BT||1.5 Mbps||14.5 Mbps||40.5 Mbps|
|EE Mobile (3G/4G)||1.8 Mbps||14.3 Mbps||43.8 Mbps|
|IDNet||2.1 Mbps||12.5 Mbps||55.9 Mbps|
|Vodafone Mobile||2 Mbps||12.3 Mbps||36.5 Mbps|
|Claranet SOHO||1.1 Mbps||11.4 Mbps||56.4 Mbps|
|Relish||0.9 Mbps||10.9 Mbps||30.3 Mbps|
|Plusnet||1.3 Mbps||9.8 Mbps||37.9 Mbps|
|O2 Mobile||1.7 Mbps||8.9 Mbps||32.2 Mbps|
|TalkTalk||1.6 Mbps||8 Mbps||33.9 Mbps|
|Sky||1.4 Mbps||7.9 Mbps||29.3 Mbps|
|Three||1.3 Mbps||7.6 Mbps||31.5 Mbps|
|KCom||1.8 Mbps||7.3 Mbps||54.7 Mbps|
|Daisy Wholesale||1.1 Mbps||7 Mbps||37.5 Mbps|
|EE (ADSL2+/FTTC)||1.2 Mbps||6.9 Mbps||33.2 Mbps|
|Eclipse KCom outside Hull||0.7 Mbps||6.3 Mbps||35.7 Mbps|
As you can see the bottom 10% varies a lot and may surprise some, with even providers often seen as being fast or using fixed speed connection technology (e.g. FTTH/DOCSIS) showing that hitting the speed on the tin is not always that easy, and factors such as computer specification, Wi-Fi versus Ethernet, time of day, local congestion, congestion in providers backhaul or peering congestion can all be a factor. These factors mean that even if the slowest 10% figure was to be adopted it would still have to be an 'up to' figure in advertising, or any 'guarantee' would have to come with half a page of legal speak.
|Large Provider Fibre Based Connection Speed Tests March 2016|
|Provider||Download Speed of slowest 10%||Median Download||Download Speed of fastest 10%|
|FTTC Overall (excludes Virgin Media)||12.1 Mbps||28.3 Mbps||47.9 Mbps|
|FTTC Up to 38 Mbps Product||10 Mbps||24 Mbps||34 Mbps|
|FTTC Up to 76 Mbps Product||37 Mbps||47 Mbps||70 Mbps|
|BT||13.1 Mbps||30.4 Mbps||54.4 Mbps|
|EE||10 Mbps||27.2 Mbps||37.2 Mbps|
|Plusnet||10.9 Mbps||30.6 Mbps||57.4 Mbps|
|Sky||10.5 Mbps||24.9 Mbps||37.2 Mbps|
|TalkTalk||13.4 Mbps||27.5 Mbps||39.1 Mbps|
|Virgin Media||7.4 Mbps||41.3 Mbps||102.8 Mbps|
|Virgin Media Up To 200 Mbps||72 Mbps||90 Mbps||150 Mbps|
|Virgin Media Up To 100 Mbps (*)||37 Mbps||45 Mbps||54 Mbps|
|Virgin Media Up To 50 Mbps (*)||2 Mbps||18 Mbps||34 Mbps|
|Vodafone||15.2 Mbps||31.8 Mbps||60.3 Mbps|
For the overall FTTC and Virgin Media range we have split our data up a little more than usual and the results could make for some interesting purchasing decisions by the public and given a new rule around only advertising speeds of the slowest 10% providers those on longer VDSL2 (or ADSL2+) lines may find it hard to have a provider who will accept their custom.
|ADSL/ADSL2+ Connection Speed Tests March 2016|
|Provider/Area||Download Speed of slowest 10%||Median Download||Download Speed of fastest 10%|
|All Providers||1 Mbps||5.2 Mbps||14.7 Mbps|
|BT||0.8 Mbps||4.6 Mbps||14.5 Mbps|
|EE||0.9 Mbps||4.7 Mbps||14.1 Mbps|
|Plusnet||0.9 Mbps||5.3 Mbps||14.5 Mbps|
|Sky||1.1 Mbps||5.3 Mbps||14.8 Mbps|
|TalkTalk||1.2 Mbps||5.4 Mbps||14.4 Mbps|
|Rural ADSL||0.7 Mbps||3.8 Mbps||10.2 Mbps|
Perhaps the largest problem we can easily foresee with a bottom 10% advertising rule is providers refusing service to people to ensure certain products maintain their decile range. Another issue that may arise is confusion from the public particularly amongst those with 5 to 10 Mbps speeds from ADSL2+ now, since the advertising for the dominant VDSL2 technology will be around the 10 Mbps point and for the extra money people may not actually click through or call to find out their personal speed estimate which 90% of the time is actually going to be higher, i.e. the rule change may ruin attempts to improve take-up on existing superfast services. Critics of the VDSL2 heavy roll-out will quickly highlight that this would not be the case if pure fibre (FTTH) had been used, but while the connection speed is fixed, the variation in speeds will still be experienced.
If a new honest speed advertising regime with automatic compensation does become the norm for the UK we sincerely hope it does not mean 'ambulance chaser' spam to claim compensation for slow broadband and also safeguards will be in place to stop people abusing the compensation system by serially switching providers using the speed guarantees and thus end up not paying for their broadband or maybe even making a profit depending on the level of compensation.
Perhaps someone should found a thinkbroadband world tour so we can spend time in various countries to see how broadband is advertised and whether the physics of broadband and internet connections are different in other countries.