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Looking deeper into rural broadband speeds
Wednesday 10 August 2016 13:33:07 by Andrew Ferguson

The Local Government Association has upped the ante in it broadband campaign now looking at getting speeds in broadband advertising changed and to eradicate 'up to' and replace it with an average speed.

Part of the campaign highlights that remote rural areas can suffer more congestion at peak times and thus lower speeds, but this is based on Ofcom research from 2014 and while this may be true for those who pick the wrong provider on an IPStream only exchange since WBC ADSL2+ is still being added to rural exchanges many may be able to get something better compared to the 2 year old Ofcom statement. Critically for those on rural exchanges it is important to check what options are available as while LLU expansion has been stagnant for a couple of years, the WBC IP network available from BT Wholesale can offer better peak time performance and has a much better DLM system than the old IPStream services (e.g. IP Profile system is dynamic rather than taking days to recover from short blips in connection speed).

"Councils are working hard to ensure everyone has good quality internet access.

Good digital connectivity is a vital element of everyday life for residents and can help them cut household bills, shop online for cheaper goods, stay in touch with distant relatives, access their bank accounts and even run their own businesses. As central and local government services increasingly become ‘digital by default', more people will need to have faster and more reliable speeds.

The headline ‘up to' download speed, which can be advertised legally, is misleading and does not reflect the reality of broadband service received across the country.

Broadband users deserve greater honesty and openness about the download and upload speeds they are likely to receive depending on their location."

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Chairman of the LGA's People and Places Board

While Ofcom concentrates on monitoring a few thousand broadband connections and modelling those to get a national picture and is expanding the footprint of its monitoring boxes to more rural areas, our years of speed test data mean we can actually give a good idea of the picture in rural areas and as our results are showing user experience it covers issues such as congestion and people on older slower services being stuck with slow old Wi-Fi routers.

AreaSuperfast coverage
(30 Mbps and faster)
Average Download SpeedAverage Upload SpeedDownload Profile of Tests in Q2/2016
 31/07/1531/07/16Q2/2015Q2/2016Q2/2015Q2/2016 
GB Urban
Less Sparse
70.8% premises
94.7%96.6%27.8 Mbps26.5 Mbps5.9 Mbps4.8 Mbps
GB Town and Fringe
Less Sparse
9.2% premises
80.1%87.1%19.2 Mbps19.9 Mbps4.4 Mbps4.1 Mbps
GB Village
Less Sparse
6.1% premises
53.7%66.4%13.2 Mbps15 Mbps3.6 Mbps3.6 Mbps
GB Urban
Area Sparse
3.9% premises
93.6%95.9%26.8 Mbps25.4 Mbps5 Mbps4.5 Mbps
GB Town and Fringe
Area Sparse
3.2% premises
89.8%93.8%25.9 Mbps24.3 Mbps5.4 Mbps4.4 Mbps
GB Hamlet
Less Sparse
2.7% premises
33.6%40.6%11 Mbps11.2 Mbps3.1 Mbps2.4 Mbps
GB Village
Area Sparse
1.5% premises
63.7%66.4%14.5 Mbps16 Mbps3.2 Mbps3.3 Mbps
GB Hamlet
Area Sparse
0.7% premises
37.7%45.3%10.3 Mbps10.6 Mbps2.3 Mbps2.1 Mbps

NOTE: The figures above include England, Wales and Scotland, the ONS definitions for Northern Ireland do not easily align and thus are dealt with separately. When we publish UK wide data obviously Northern Ireland does feature and coverage and speed data is on our coverage and speed tracker

The relationship between higher levels of superfast coverage and average speeds is clear to see, but also highlights the danger that even when advertising uses average speeds due to the high speeds and large proportion of the population in urban areas, a UK wide average speed is still not going to mean too much to those in rural areas. The drop in speeds between Q2/2015 and Q3/2016 in some areas is a reflection of the changing demographics of how people use the Internet, i.e. more tests (as is day to day use) are on tablets and mobiles and complaints of low speeds from Virgin Media users are on a rise, plus as some people cut back on utilities spending people may be downgrading from the fastest services to one that is a bit cheaper but still adequate for their needs.

The speed profiles showing the speeds people are using is not the full story, as when we split out the different technologies you can see that while VDSL2 is often berated over its distance limitations for those ordering and using the service there is not a massive difference between the different parts of Great Britain.

AreaFTTH Average
Q2/2016
Cable Average
Q2/2016
FTTC Average
Q2/2016
ADSL/ADSL2+ Average
Q2/2016
 DownUploadDownUploadDownUploadDownUpload
GB Urban
Less Sparse
70.8% premises
82.2 Mbps39.8 Mbps48 Mbps5.9 Mbps29.9 Mbps7.4 Mbps7.1 Mbps0.6 Mbps
GB Town and Fringe
Less Sparse
9.2% premises
62.4 Mbps20 Mbps50.5 Mbps6.3 Mbps29.8 Mbps7.4 Mbps7.6 Mbps0.6 Mbps
GB Village
Less Sparse
6.1% premises
58.5 Mbps30.7 Mbps47.4 Mbps7.8 Mbps28 Mbps6.9 Mbps5.2 Mbps0.6 Mbps
GB Urban
Area Sparse
3.9% premises
109.9 Mbps55.8 Mbps46.4 Mbps5.9 Mbps29.4 Mbps7.4 Mbps7.9 Mbps0.6 Mbps
GB Town and Fringe
Area Sparse
3.2% premises
87.4 Mbps15.9 Mbps52.1 Mbps6.6 Mbps29.5 Mbps7.1 Mbps7.8 Mbps0.6 Mbps
GB Hamlet
Less Sparse
2.7% premises
56.7 Mbps24.3 Mbps41.4 Mbps6.1 Mbps27 Mbps6.7 Mbps4.7 Mbps0.5 Mbps
GB Village
Area Sparse
1.5% premises
57.5 Mbps16.3 Mbps47.4 Mbps6.5 Mbps28.4 Mbps6.8 Mbps6.5 Mbps0.5 Mbps
GB Hamlet
Area Sparse
0.7% premises
54.2 Mbps15.9 Mbpsn/an/a28 Mbps6.7 Mbps4.7 Mbps0.5 Mbps

At the end of the day the most important thing is what speeds a provider gives a user as part of the ordering process which is a key component the voluntary speeds code of practice. Admittedly some providers slip in language that can include the word guarantee when in fact on a best efforts consumer service you cannot guarantee speeds and they don't all use the same criteria for ranges quoted.

Comments

Posted by chilting 4 months ago
Average speed is just as misleading as up to speed.
Why not simply compel the ISP to provide the BT ADSL checker test result before the order is processed?
Posted by Blackmamba 4 months ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
I think you will find that the BT Fibre Checker gives a fair banding EG 13----15 meg on the Post Code on which ever service the customers requires. I could be incorrect but other ISP,s feed of this data and sell on their judgement so it comes under the heading buyer beware.
Posted by baby_frogmella 4 months ago
@blackmamba
What are you on about?
Posted by TheEulerID 4 months ago
@chilting

ISPs do have to provide individual speed estimates when ordering. This is about advertising, which is inherently broad based.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 4 months ago
Believe blackmamba is referring to the wholesale checkers that providers use to base the individual sales estimate on.

For FTTC, the variation between providers is down to their interpretation of the A/B ranges etc
Posted by Blackmamba 4 months ago
Hi Baby-frogmella.
Just check on the new BT Openreach fibre option and take a Post Code and you will find that the banding may be different on the Addresses list do not use a number. The banding gap will be either which system you go via CN21 or CN20 plus the type of service you require. Please remember the line speed is determined by lenght and its quality.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 4 months ago
Care to explain how 21CN versus 20CN makes a difference to VDSL2 estimates, when it does not use the older 20CN backhaul network at all.
Posted by burble 4 months ago
"At the end of the day the most important thing is what speeds a provider gives a user as part of the ordering process which is a key component the voluntary speeds code of practice."
This is the only meaningful measure, but, for long lines like mine on VDSL it seems to be very inaccurate.
The problem seems to be quite a lot of the public have no idea, only a couple of weeks back one of the lads at work told me he was thinking of changing ISP's so that he could get up to 17mb instead of the 1.5mb he was getting at present.
Posted by chilting 4 months ago
@ TheEulerID
Yes, my point is that the speed available has to be quoted to the customer before the ordering process begins.
It would be better if speed wasn't mentioned at all in the advertising. The ISP could invite the customer for a free appraisal/quote for all the options available to them at their location.
Posted by Blackmamba 4 months ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
The onus is on the customer to select the ISP,s (500) on the Post Code in the Exchange area marked RED, Yellow, Green ( TBB maps). The service on Openreach metallic line will be determined by the Post Code status and this will change over time plus the ISP services ( network). I feel advertising should be on the traffic light system as above.
Posted by ian72 4 months ago
We still have the issue of poor wiring affecting speeds (especially with self install). And which speed are we talking - sync or throughput? And if it's throughput then each ISP has to show their actual results for an area rather than sync speeds (and how do you measure actual throughput - and to what servers?).
Posted by Gadget 4 months ago
taken to extreme an ISP could offer "Broadband, up to 10Gb/s - depending on how much you want to pay" Elsewhere in "another place" someone raised the point that in a Sale advertised as up to "50% off" we don't see many complaints that the item purchased was actually only has 30% discount.
Posted by DrMikeHuntHurtz 4 months ago
If BT skips a cabinet due to someone claiming they owned the spot of land, what's the chances of BT trying again?

Or does it mean no upgrade ever?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 4 months ago
Depends on how busy planning teams are and whether land is or becomes available
Posted by Blackmamba 4 months ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
I am glad to see that TBB is advertising the GREEN post Codes to the MPs and also the post code that could be cover by GFast if the service is required on Demand my view is the take up will be low on units that are close to the FTTC time will tell.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 4 months ago
G.fast is not likely to be an on demand product, it will either be available or not available.
Posted by leexgx 4 months ago
Blackmamba
you sound like a salesman who uses the upto advertising :P (red yellow green ?)

before you sign up for broadband the ISP has to tell you your real estimated speed, i found the estimated speeds based on postcode the ISP provide to be for the most part accurate (ADSL on the lower side and VDSL on the higher side of the estimate)

for virgin media (and real fiber broadband) that mostly does not apply as they are limited by what profile they sell you and local congestion (which is the main issue some local streets have witch virgin really should fix)
Posted by Blackmamba 4 months ago
Hi Leexgx.
I am not trading in snake oil but am trying to sell TBB system RED Yellow Green because they are tracking BT/ Openreach figures which many MPs do not recognise the % results they did get it wrong in the exit vote.
Posted by steamingdave 4 months ago
"Average"???? Meaningless. Are they using mean, mode or median.
Posted by galacticz00 4 months ago
Whether its average or up to it won't help the customer get a better speed, and if a low speed will pay just the same price. I pay for up to 17mbps - I'm actually lucky if I get 2mbps and at peak times I'm lucky if a web page opens within a couple of minutes, but I pay the same as the guy who gets 17mbps......
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