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Digital Economy Bill heads for its second reading in the House of Commons
Tuesday 13 September 2016 00:47:26 by Andrew Ferguson

With the Digital Economy Bill set to receive its second reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday 13th September 2016, the Local Government Association (LGA) has issued a briefing document and we have highlighted the key elements of the bill, most of which our readers will be very familiar with.

  • Broadband USO - the 10 Mbps minimum speed guarantee. The LGA highlights the need for the 10 Mbps safety net to keep pace with technology and that the USO should not just focus on the download metric but other aspects such as latency and upload speeds with a call for a minimum of 2 Mbps upload speed when the USO is launched.
  • Broadband compensation - automatic compensation for faults or periods of poor service may be on the way. How this will operate and the level of compensation is not known yet and as with other compensation cultures it may simply be that providers raise prices to compensate for refunds. Identifying problem periods for a user will be an area for lots of argument, at the simplest level someones connection may be slow due to something they have done in the home, or wireless interference from outside the property might be impacting Wi-Fi/4G/Fixed Wireless service speeds with these outside the providers control.
  • Switching providers - switching broadband and phone packages are already pretty simple, but Ofcom and the Digital Economy Bill is working towards the holy grail of a unified switching process. What this delivers will be interesting as it could drive the bundle market, or it could rip it apart and mean that products are not cross subsidising each other and each product has to be able to stand on its.
  • New powers for Ofcom to acquire speed test information for individual premises from providers. Ofcom periodically releases speed data that is based on connection speed information from providers, but this is generally only to the postcode level. If Ofcom can be empowered to get access to premise level data the hope is that comparison sites and analysis of what is available in the UK can be done at a much more granular level, i.e. the 29 million premises rather than 1.7 million postcodes.

The new data set on broadband speeds is clearly of great interest to us, because we have built our own coverage model and also do lots of analytics on our extensive broadband speed test results. For individuals premise level results as an open dataset from Ofcom would be very useful, but caveats around how data is made available, how up to date it is and what use is allowed of the data will be critical. Also with our experience helping people on our user forums, it is clear that many people still have issues affecting their broadband speed that may label a property as slow but this is just because they are using a poor quality telephone extension and thus are not getting the best from their line. The biggest elephant in the room is that for ADSL/ADSL2+/VDSL2 and fixed wireless services you don't really know what connection speed a premise will receive until it is live too, so even if Openreach and others were forced to release connection speed estimates we know from helping our visitors that even the Openreach data at the premise level is not 100% accurate.

One aspect of broadband technology often overlooked is that if you switch between VDSL2 providers there should be no major difference in connection speed (sometimes choice of modem can affect connection speeds), what does vary though is the quality of the Wi-Fi access provided by hardware and the difference between peak and off-peak speeds. As the variations seen by Virgin Media users attest to, even if you are on a fixed connection speed medium you will not always hit the speeds shown on the tin, and the same applies for Fibre to the Home based services.

Comments

Posted by Blackmamba 3 months ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
At the moment customers can get access via Openreach website then their ISP to the post code and the addresses which advertises the services and up to and the window speeds.
Posted by Blackmamba 3 months ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
The post code information addresses must be correct to the house telephone number if not a red herring can effect the results.
Posted by burble 3 months ago
Couple of things.
Has it been hammered out yet who would be responsible for ensuring the minimum of 10Mb?
The DSL Checker, used by my local council officer that deals with BDUK, shows my property as getting 10-11Mb, despite my only getting 2.5,
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 3 months ago
The USO has not been hammered out yet, and so far no-one is rushing to have responsibility for it.

On the DSL checker - what do providers suggest is possible when doing house PLUS postcode look ups? Might be worth asking on our forum for people to look deeper into why the lookup may not match your experience.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 3 months ago
@blackmamba Telephone numbers are a virtual concept and can be ported around geographically very quickly, physical addresses are somewhat more solid.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 3 months ago
@blackmamba Plus plenty of technologies where the concept of a telephone number is totally irrelevant.
Posted by burble 3 months ago
Andrew, when doing house/phone number/postcode 7-13Mb
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 3 months ago
So in which case makes one wonder what the BDUK person is using.

Presuming this is ADSL/ADSL2+ what is your downstream and upstream line attenuation?
Posted by Blackmamba 3 months ago
Hi Brondband Watchers and Burble.
If iyou have a problem all ways refere to your ISP for advise and check the services that are available on your Post Code for speed in the local area.
Use Openreach website for direction eg Bus and Res.and select your requirements for price and value.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 3 months ago
@blackmamba Probably find than 9 out of 10 ISP support have no clue about the relationship between attenuation and connection speeds, hence asking the question here.
Posted by burble 3 months ago
Blimey Andrew thought I had a bad memory :p , it's FTTC, downstream 33.1, upstream 16.2.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 3 months ago
33dB attenuation on VDSL2 means a very long line, and the download speeds are no big surprise given the attenuation.

Also the checkers due to the way VDSL2 behaves on long lines can be a pretty wrong.

Posted by burble 3 months ago
I agree, my speed should be no surprise to any knowledgeable person, as I've posted before the OR engineer who lives 'down the road' told me the best I could expect is 4Mb, yet the BDUK partners say otherwise.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 3 months ago
BDUK partners are very unlikely to be experts in how VDSL2 performs.
Posted by Blackmamba 3 months ago
Hi Burble.
Check on BT website on your Post Code and see what service are available then on your address then contact your ISP and see if they can help with you problem.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 3 months ago
@blackmamba Unless the ISP funds a new VDSL2 cab closer to @Burble then ISP is not going to achieve anything
Posted by burble 3 months ago
as Andrew says, it will need new equipment nearer the house or long range VDSL to make a difference, BT show 7-11Mb, but a succession of OR engineers have been unable to get it anywhere near this, hence my interest in the USO.
Posted by silverdove 3 months ago
The USO must include unlimited usage. Speed isn't everything.
Posted by burble 3 months ago
@silverdove, I'm not up to speed on satellite, but aside from that where is there a problem with usage? The USO would normally state along lines of "must be available at a reasonable cost" AFAIK all landlines can already get unlimited usage at a commercial rate.
Posted by silverdove 2 months ago
@Burble - yep for landlines within 1500m of the greenbox that's fine. I'm 3k from the green box and have been told by OpenReach that we'll probably never get fast/superfast here - currently d/l speed between 0.5Mbps - 1.5Mbps - I live on a farm in Cornwall :-). The solution for us is either Satellite (£80 - £10o per month the last time I looked) or 4G. Haven't found an unlimited 4G that you can tether yet (including using iPad) at a good rate. Be happy if you can point me to one. All I need is 10Mbps - if you know of one please let me know.
Posted by burble 2 months ago
Never looked into 4G, getting any sort of mobile signal is considered quite an achievement here and then only on EE, 3G or 4G are out of the question. The OR engineers often drive out of village to use their mobiles. You ADSL speed is around what we had before switching to FTTC, my worry is that with adoption of 10Mb USO will result in us just being offered a voucher for satellite.
Posted by silverdove 2 months ago
@burble - I can better the OR engineer driving out of the village - they have to use MY mobile to make calls. I'm on O2 and as long as the wind in blowing in the right direction.......:-))
Posted by gah789 2 months ago
You live on a farm. Would you agree to a contract to supply an unlimited amount of milk for a fixed price? Providing bandwidth costs a lot of money, especially in remote areas. Requiring the USO offer unlimited usage is a sure guarantee that most small providers will drop out, since the customers who take advantage of it are exactly the ones you can't afford to serve. But, in practice, Openreach is probably not interested and the subsidy required would be astronomical. Result: a USO with so many exclusions that it is not worth anything.
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