Reality of average broadband speeds in advertising surface
Mark over at ISPreview has apparently being talking with a source at Sky and has confirmed that a change in how the provider sells broadband that was seen as positive by campaigners also has a dark side to it.
The change earlier in December where Sky would start to include average broadband speeds in its advertising made them the first major provider to do so, and well ahead of any ASA/CAP guidance. Alas while we and ISPreview warned at the time a real danger is that providers would start to refuse service to people with slow speeds there was no evidence this was happening, but now it appears this is the case with Sky now not offering ADSL/ADSL2+ to customers who would get 2 Mbps or less from the service.
Of course many of those with sub 2 Mbps ADSL will have VDSL2 as an option at faster speeds, though of course we know that not all VDSL2 lines will go faster than 2 Mbps and due to the frequency ranges used VDSL2 at the lower speeds can be more unstable than ADSL or ADSL2+. In theory if ADSL/ADSL2+ was retired the frequencies could be used for VDSL2 and improve the reach of the service.
The number of premises this will affect is a big unknown and it should be noted that this only seems to affect new customers to Sky, but may confuse those who have ADSL/ADSL2+ that is exceeding the checker estimates expectations when Sky refuse their order. Looking at the spread of speeds from Sky ADSL2+ customers there is probably 10% of their customer base with 2 Mbps or slower connections (profile shows more, but have reduced estimate to account for those testing over slow Wi-Fi). This may seem high, but given the years of free ADSL2+ deals it is possible that they've attracted slow users in the past, i.e. lack of annoying BT Wholesale IP Profile system and if you are going to be slow, being free makes it more bearable (free broadband but they'll be paying voice line rental still).
Ofcom estimated that 1% of UK premises only had a sub 2 Mbps option, but this was in May 2016, since then this has dropped to 0.78% based on our analysis, to give some idea of the pace of change in the last seven days we've seen the number of postcodes we mark as in the USC range drop from 60,521 to 60,231.
Broadband in the UK at the start was just 0.5 Mbps (with a lucky few on 2 Mbps) and that seemed fast and could stream video, but as video resolutions have increased from postage stamp size and web pages feature masses more scripts and images slow connections such as this 0.4 Mbps download, 0.2 Mbps Sky connection will feel a lot less functional than fifteen years ago. Looking at that test specifically they are a household which has a range of 4 Mbps to 15 Mbps from VDSL2 at a distance of around 2 km from the cabinet and only up to 1 Mbps from ADSL2+. Our pessimism on the long range performance of VDSL2 means we flag the postcode as a USC one, but there are alternatives probably available via fixed wireless providers. While many people with sub 2 Mbps ADSL2+ will be rural based, there are those in cities still affected.