ISPs Join Broadband Web Speed Regulation

5 December 2008

Oh yes.  You're not the only one with a broadband connection slower than you expected. According to Ofcom, about 25% of homes in the UK aren't getting the speeds we damn well paid for.  This often leading to a goose hunt with some customer rep in India reading template responses off a screen that not only does not resolve your problem, but often aggravates the situation with the same patronizing answer I'm sure you've heard before: "Sir, please just disconnect your cable, wait 30 seconds, plug it in again." Look mate, I've already tried that. It still doesn't frickin work!   "Oh sir... <pause> I'm sorry, but you have to call our tech department.  They are closed now.  Try tomorrow. Thank you, come again."  Oh, sod off!

Thankfully, Ofcom has attempted to take a step towards new 'regulation' in the industry as a new code of conduct came into force yesterday.  The new 'code' means that UK ISPs now must provide 'accurate estimate' of the maximum speed your individual line can support at the point of sale.  Providers have also been asked to move you into an 'alternative' package should your speeds be 'alot lower' than promised.

But isn't this all a bit bullshit in practice?  What do they mean by 'a lot lower'?  Like when you go to LIDL and back, and the page still hasn't loaded yet?  Or like Apple, arguing that only a fool would believe that their 3G iphones are really as fast as the ads appear to be?  Yes, we consumers must all be really thick.  So would the stacks of paper making up the class action lawsuits coming your way.

But, being the Type A personality that I am, I shall personally stick to threatening my ISP to leave.  It's worked with my girlfriend (and vice versa), so I don't see why it shouldn't work with them.

[Ofcom] via [PC Pro]

TOPICS:   Broadband   Technology


  • Terry
    Surely it's 'a lot lower' rather than 'alot lower' considering that alot is not a word, correct?
  • chazz
    Ordered a BT line 2 days ago and it was advertised as up to 8mb, after credits check etc. at the end of chat with sales person he told me that I'll have maximum of 5.5 mbs... will see I bet download rate will be about 160 kb/s :P
  • Jack
    Nobody gives a shit Terry, stupid grammer Nazi.
  • Artemis
    It's spelled 'grammar'.
  • Mark
    The line speed being slow generally is one thing. The thing that pisses me off the most is that I pay for the top tier that my broadband company supply because I am a heavy user but then get penalised for having the audacity to use the broadband speed I pay for. Yes I use downloads (mainly TV and no music) but I'm hardly going to need 8mb for checking emails. Rant over.
  • akme
    The isp i work for uses a post code checker. We tell the customer what speed everyone else is getting on there street. This may change though due to some idiots using extension leads or having sky unfiltered. The packages we offer no dont have any traffic shaping..but do have download limits on them.
  • Paul
    Vince, you must have been bored to right this article. Yes it's a pain not having access to the full 8mb of broadband speed but lets be realistic, only about 4-5% of the population lives close enough to their exchange to get this. Why oh why can't people do their homework about the internet and the true speeds before whining on about it and taking the word of highly biased people with a grudge against life itself? Remember that the lines that broadband is supplied to the houses with is on (in some cases) 30yr old telephone lines. When being installed there was no indication that Broadband would be required on the standard copper wiring. Next of all, if you live a few Km away from the exchange you WILL NOT be able to get a speed anywhere near 8mb, the degradation of the signal will see to that. The lack of full 8mbps speed is only noticeable when people are using download programs. This is why the companies advertise speeds of 'Upto' rather than 'You are guaranteed to get'. This means that no discount to the prices can be expected to anyone as no promise of speed has been given, In fact, BT Wholesale who are the main Broadband suppliers reserve the right to reject any speed complaints on broadband if the speed is above 400kbps. Once again, remember that the speed will vary due to the number of variables. If you want to feel better about your speeds just think back around 8-10yrs ago when the 56kbps dial up speeds were a sensation and now 3000kbps upwards just isn't good enough.
  • Mike
    Paul, People shouldn't have to 'do their homework' before subscribing to Internet services. It was the case a couple of years ago that BT and other ISPs would tell you if you were capable of receiving the full advertised speed when you were placing an order. If you weren't, they would offer you a different tier of service. Now it seems they just sell you whatever you're willing to buy, and tell you to hope for the best. The fact that only 4-5% of the population can receive the top speeds surely means they shouldn't be advertising them to the general public as standard speeds? Also, your English is terrible. cy@~
  • Al N.
    The problem I have with this is that many people seem to think that it is the ISP who controls how fast their line will sync with the exchange. I've read lots of posts over the years from people saying 'my ISP xxx only gives me 2.5Mbp/s so I'm moving to yyy ISP because my friend get 5.5Mb/s'. Unfortunately, whatever ISP you go with, you're going to get almost exactly the same sync speed with the exchange (unless you move from ADSL to ADSL2). In what way are these figures going to help? The cost to the ISP is the same whether you get 3.5Mb/s or 8Mb/s (assuming you use the same bandwidth - and there are tiers for different bandwidth usage already). All you do is get confused people ringing round various ISPs and going with the one who estimates their line speed to be the fastest. Al
  • PGS (.
    Be happy you're not in Australia. 8Mb? We dream! Our main telco (Telstra) still insists on putting pair gains in where they'll get steep competition. We have a number of sections in Sydney that can't event get ADSL1 due to this. Telstra & Optus both have 'basic' downlead limits of under 500Mb/month - for $30. That's not even enough to cover MS and anti-virus updates, let alone email. Wireless BB - joke! Overpriced & lower download limits.
  • julz
    al nicol, its not necessarily true with regards to getting almost exactly the same speeds with different companies - a friend of mine changed companies and noticed a major drop in speed, which the new company stated it was down to distance from exchange - he didnt move house! the new seemed to be capping his broadband speed. i moved house recently and had my broadband package transferred - only moved two streets away, approximately 200 metres, due to this move my speed had dropped from 16mb to 8mb max which i wasnt achieving anyway - it seems the exchange was in my bed room all along?! i believe the most fair and amicable solution is to charge people for the speeds they receive from isp's; for example if sky charge £10 (increasing to £15 soon) for the max 16mbs package and i only receive on average 1.6mbs, i should only pay £1. they should have a guide price for the max speed and charge accordingly. i dont care if my english and grammar is terrible, it is my right as a british citizen, part of a failing democratic country, and proud owner of the photocpying machine in my local barclays bank in handsworth, birmingham (thank you for bailing them out gbrown - street name) to script and lierate how i want! liverpool for the title!
  • Mark
    I was getting terrible speeds with BT, less than dialup in some cases. After weeks of bashing my head against a foreign callcentre I managed to get an engineer out who found a fault on a piece of equipment in my street. I now enjoy 7mb (rarely but sometimes 8mb) for superfast email checking as they throttle the crap out of torrents.
  • dontasciime
    Throttle use RC4 and a diff bt cleint
  • Al N.
    julz, Yup, you're right, there is more to it than purely line sync speed. Contention/congestion within an ISP's network can have a massive effect on speed. Unfortunately, these new guidelines don't cover this - this is all purely to do with sync speed. If ISPs were made to publish their internal network contention levels or the average speed at certain times of the day, that would be much more useful.
  • Adebisi
    Distance from the exchange is one thing but in the late 80's till the mid 90's BT was using aluminium (due to the price of copper) and that is very bad for broadband. There are whole areas of the country where aluminium wire was used.
  • Mike H.
    The point is, that some fucker is paying for an 8Meg connection and 'actually' getting 1.5Mb, and some other twat is paying the same and getting 7Meg, where's the fuckin' fairness in that? You should only pay for what you are able to get, not a flat fuckin' rate, then just hope for the best. Mike

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment