back to article BT declares ceasefire in broadband speed wars

BT is aiming to push access speed down the broadband agenda as the copper wires which carry data into homes swiftly approach their technological limits. The firm, which announced record profits last month, is maintaining its party line on fibre to the home, that it is a "UK PLC issue", rather than a matter for the national …


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  1. bambi

    100mb for 8 seconds a day

    So we are gonna get 100mb in the UK are we? Are we going to see a 3Gb a day limit on this 100Mb pipe? Sounds like BT wanna keep up with VirginHellworld.......

    Have the world on a plate, but only for 3mins a day or you are abusing the service

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sod that, give me speed

    i don't really care about bundled packages, most techies won't. what a large amount of us care about is how to get online without lag, games that connect faster, the ability to run fast VPNs...

  3. Dax Farrer


    Why is an obvious incremental improvement suddenly UK PLC problem. They should have been forced to install fibre in all new builds and to have an aggressive timetable for upgrade. I dont know about you but the 8 they are currently offering is more like 2 and a bit in reality.

  4. Chad H.

    FTP, Yes Please!


    Flett said: "If you do VDSL2 [a technology which offers up to 100Mbit/s without upgrading the 'last mile' copper wire], then you have to do fibre to the cabinet, and if you do that then the economics mean you might as well do fibre to the home."


    Fibre to the Premisis? Yes please! Isnt that what we've all been wanting anyway?

  5. Ian

    How could BT possibly know whether consumers want speed...

    ...when they haven't yet given customers speed. It's all very well upgrading to a theoretical maximum of 8mbps, but when most people don't get above 6mbps and a plethora are still lucky to get more than 2mbps coupled with the fact these connection speeds are further limited by bandwidth throttling employed by ISPs it's no wonder consumers claim speed makes no difference, because, well their "8mbps" line performs no better than their old 512kbps line due to the amount of artificial limitations in place!

    Give people unlimited, unmetered, full 8mbps and they'll start to realise how much better it is and they'll you'll get a truer picture - that consumers DO want more speed.

  6. Rob

    BT are half right

    BT are almost there, speed does matter to me but in conjunction with another important factor - "fair use" definitions.

    I'm currently on an 8mb/s connection with pipex and we see about 6mb/s most days, which is acceptable to me. However, pipex have a very strange view of fair use, so far flatly refusing to define to me what they mean. I'd probably settle for a 4mb/s connection providing it was truly unmetered or had a very large cap, or if bittorrent wasn't throttled to death, or if "peak hours" weren't defined as "all the hours you're actually awake during the day"

    My next broadband provider will be chosen partly based on the speed they can offer me, but I shall also be looking very carefully at their policies to see if I'm actually going to be able to USE the speed for anything other than downloading my junk mail quicker

  7. Neil

    They call him mr Fahrenheit

    Speed and reliability are the ONLY thing I am interested in when I choose my internet access.

    BT will not be able to compete with subscription HD TV for quality with the current broadband infrastructure. Perhaps they are referring to Ascii Starwars for a small subscription.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What % of the market do Reg readers actually make?

    What % of the market do Reg readers actually make? Whilst techies may well want the best ping rates and 100mb/s download speeds, the other 95% of the market probably doesn't care.

    I'm pretty sure if I asked my parents, who are both Internet users of 15 yrs plus, what they would prefer then the answer wouldn't take long to find:

    * a high ping rate/an n-times faster line, or,

    * some things that they knew and understood to be usable (video calling, TV on-demand)

    And that's the important bit. BT's business won't survive on the back of the minority. They need to sell to the 95%.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "BT calls the management technology "smart broadband", and says the stability of the service it offers distinguishes it from LLU providers like TalkTalk and Sky."

    I've been with BT for almost 12 months having left Tiscali (thankfully)... So far the line has been so bad I've had to spend 80 quid for 12 months so-called service due to the amount of refunds they've been forced to apply. Single worst ISP experience ever... even when it does work my 8meg connection is only stable at 2meg - I have to use my own tools to throttle the bandwidth so my line doesn't drop everytime I use it.


  10. Steve

    WTF ? Of course speed is an issue !

    And it's going to be more of an issue as BT continues to phone up every single one of it's broadband customers, offer them an 'upgrade' to the '8Mb' connection and a free Home Hub into the bargain (oh, provided you agree to stay with BT for another 12 months).

    BT's motivation for doing this is to push out Home Hubs so that they can sell us all VOIP and IPTV services, but these are bandwidth hungry apps, and require a speedy connection to provide value to the end user.

    With a saturation rollout that resembles a blitzkrieg, I would think Mr Flett is soon going to discover just exactly how important speed is to his customers.

    (For the record, I accepted BT's offer, I am geek enough to want something new to play with, and since most of the people hereabouts are to dim to change the out of the box settings on their existing kit, I should imagine I will be able to continue with my own 'traffic shaping' strategy to maximise my own share of the available bandwidth :-)

  11. Tom

    Oh dear

    I'm a bit worried by these comments. First of all, BT are saying that the entire UK wants exactly the same thing from their home broadband - which they DON'T.

    Second, while I agree that the majority of people don't currently need as much as 8Mbps, that doesn't mean that this isn't going to change. All these applications and services they are talking about are going to consume a lot of bandwidth, and the requirement is only going to increase over the next few years, as people decide they want to use 3 or 4 of these things simultaneously. With this in mind, I see that their 21CN programme has my exchange pencilled in for "Q4 2010". So I could get 24Mbps by 2010, while countries like France and Korea already have this now, and must be laughing at us. 21st Century Network indeed.

  12. James

    Speed matters unless you can't provide it....

    Speed matters to me as what I want from an ISP is a nice fat pipe with low latency. Principally this is for gaming but VoIP, VPN and fast browsing are also useful. I couldn't give two hoots about bundles of managed services and content. That's all just electronic hot air as far as I'm concerned.

    BT are remarkably thick if they believe speed doesn't matter to Joe Consumer. He likes watching videos on YouTube, emailing unreduced photos of little Jonny from his 8 megapixel camera, browsing bandwidth heavy FLASH sites and let's not forget downloading all those banner ads. He wants all that to happen fast.

  13. Paul

    What are you doing...

    to need so much speed? I never do, not even using a WII and online PC gaming and the internet at the same time. I find My PC runs to slow befor my conection dose. Perhaps it is just that I willing to wait a few seconds for stuff to start streeming, or that I dont spend all my time watching videos at the same time as downloading illigal music. I would say that most people dont want more than 8MB, just Geeks and people downloding lots of c**p. Also I never go near my BT "fair usage" Limmit and I am online alot, but using it for life (shoping, email etc) not for Youtube and porn. What exactly are you doing that eats trhough your allocation?

    Secondly, it may just be me, but Ive found BT very stable (Never once droped the conection), but as you say, when there is a problem they give you a refund. Try getting that with other companys...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WTF Are BT On?!

    Of course consumers are interested in speed this is just one of the factors people look at when choosing their broadband provider...

    The others are reliability, quality of service, safety, no hidden surprises like undisclosed or unclear 'fair usage policies' 'caps' 'throttling' and all the other crap companies are throwing into the mixer because they cant be bothered to invest customers money into the network!!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bt's usual awareness of what the customer wants..... yeah right.

    I just canned my last ISP as a result of low speeds (2Mb rather than 8), inability to track which package I was on (shortly before wanadoo was bought out by Orange, I was on 8Mb, Orange thought I Was on why am I getting 2.2ish on a good day), uncompetitive rates (When I first signed up to Wanadoo/Freeswerve I was on a 25 quid package - everyone elses prices have dropped, I'm told I have to sign up for another 12 months if I want a lower price), mis-selling (unsolicited goods sent, package changed, 12month contract - against my express instructions), unstable connection (dropped more often than a pair of pants at Kings Cross).....Oh and premium rate support that isn't fit to support a product as complex as a can of beer (When the old fslife subdomain DNS records got torpedoed, I called to let them know what was wrong, and what needed fixing. Unfortunately the poor bugger on the other end of the phone couldn't understand anything technical, or indeed the language I was speaking).

    My new ISP is more than twice as fast, and costs about 6 quid less. Oddly enough it's a supermarket - Waitrose, service delivered by a third party who also supply Madasafish I believe.

    BT aren't alone in being ignorant of customers requirements, ineptitude or rudeness. But they do seem to come in for more flak. Having said that, given BT's tariff, I'm unsurprised - Premier league tariff, and by all accounts, a conference league service.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The head-in-sand appraoch

    Isn't that a bit like hard drive manufacturers saying that they're not going to research and develop larger disks because 1TB is enough?! My Dad may agree with that statement now, but what about in 10 years time? Techies or not, technology marches on. The only technology companies that argue against this are ones who don't have the capability or the motiviation to pursue it - a very short term view in my opinion. Seems to be a common mindset in the UK telecoms market these days.

    Still, BT aren't worried - they know that if they do nothing for long enough, UK plc will have to step in and sort this out - invariably at the taxpayers expense.

    And isn't it a concidence that this statement comes as BT finally admit they have a huge problem with ADSL profiles sticking a 1 or 2 Mbps...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    copper, more like crappy aluminium

    I am 3kms from the exchange, I have a 24M/bit connection with the only ISP that offers it, but (and a BT engineer told me this only 2 days ago) the reason why i can only get 2-5Mbits is due to the mix of copper and aluminum, which is far worse than nice clean solid copper.

    Aside from telling us that we don't want any internet that is not carrying "BT - Repeat Vision" how can failing to update infrastructure be a viable business option.

    BT are so far away from consumers in thinking they might just be from mars.

    (Honestly, who would talk about their home hub to a fit girl at a party??? answer: a BT employee !).

  18. Richard Grimwood

    Central Pipe Pricing

    There is no doubt that the BT pricing of its central pipes are the root cause of the speed capping/ fair use unhappiness. All the while it costs a UK ISP 100's of pounds per megabit of central pipe capacity (per month!) the pressure is on to prevent a customer from costing the ISP more money than they are actually paying BT. No tweaking of the tail cost is going to help. The LLU ers are equally stymied by being unable to rent dark fibre from BT from one exchange to another. This is insane because the cost of changing the speed of data transferred over fibre by changing the transceivers is very small to go from 100 mbps to 1Gbps. If BT upgraded the ATM network and delivered everything to the ISP over gigabit ethernet at a price comparable with internet transit pricing then we would all be a lot lot happier. The days of contention ratios should be over but unfortunately the BT charging of bandwidth to the exchange hasn't significantly changed for 3 years while end user capacity to consume bandwidth has trebled.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all so slooooowwwwwww...

    By Dax:

    I dont know about you but the 8 they are currently offering is more like 2 and a bit in reality.

    More like 512kbs and falling rapidly. My connection is almost useless until 2am when it picks up to the dizzying speed of 1.5Mbps.

  20. Colin

    FTTH is 30% of Japanese Market

    I live in Japan now, where fibre to the home has been aggressively rolled out by the incumbent Telco (NTT) and some of the electricity companies. Residential penetration of this is now 30% of broadband homes (yes, you did read that right). And it's mostly 1 Gbit/s, not 100 Mbit/s. No capping, no metering.

    It seems obvious to me for UK PLC to compete and keep up internationally there has to be a plan to roll out fibre. Where is the political debate on this issue? Where's the action from BT?

    Copper had a good run for 100 years, but it's time to move on.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not more speed, just provide the advertised speed

    I'm not fussed about 8, 16 or even 100mbps. 2mbps is fine enough if I actually could get 2mbps instead of being throttled to death even during off-peak 'unlimited' hours (yes, I'm talking to you PlusNet aka BT, but the same applies with many other ISPs).

    The problem as I see it is one of capacity, and that's down to the ISP. At least that's what they tell us when they moan about users downloading too much (any decent business would stop moaning at their customers for using their products too much and actually invest in extra capacity to meet demand).

  22. Stuart Morrison

    Oh dear..

    ..we're still fighting to transfer all our clients who's VPNs were rendered next-to useless by the 'upgrade' to ADSL MAX back to a fixed rate service and now BT are saying that ADSL MAX is going to be the only available option.

    For those people (largely using telnet/VNC sessions over VPN and VoIP) high speed DOES matter - and it matters more than high bandwidth which is generally, and erroneously, marketed as 'speed'.

    Of course if BT have been planning all along to make wads of cash selling streaming content then sacrificing speed for bandwidth suddenly makes a lot more sense, especially for a former state monopoly who are likely to lose much profit if VoIP (which requires speed more than bandwidth) really takes off.

  23. InsolentBystander


    "...or that I dont spend all my time watching videos at the same time as downloading illigal music."

    So in your world, anyone who wants speed is a thief? Go you.

    *slow clap*

  24. Chris Miller

    You've got to pay for usage

    My ISP offers a (nice cheap) basic 8Mb service which includes 2.5GB a month, after which it's £1 per GB (higher limits are of course available for a higher basic fee). My normal usage means I usually pay an extra £2 a month, which is fine by me. But if you offer an 'unlimited' 8Mb service, someone is going to go for 1TB a month, just because they can. If you want that kind of service, then pay for it! Don't expect to be subsidised by the 90% who are satisfied with a few GB a month. [No doubt in 5 years we'll be wondering how we can survive on only 1TB a month, but the same fundamental problem will still exist.]

  25. Morely Dotes

    Be careful what you ask for.

    You mignt get it.

    @ Chad H.: "Fibre to the Premisis? Yes please! Isnt that what we've all been wanting anyway?"

    Verizon brought fibre to my house. The yahoos also managed to run it directly through the center of my sewer line (at 90 degrees, of course - punched right through both sides) and also caused my fresh water feed line to freeze and break.

    US$3600 in repairs later (including the excavation), and my yard looks like the aftermath of the Blitz. Sure, Verizon reimbursed me for the work, and promised to re-level and resod my lawn (which has not yet been done), but imagine the nightmare of not being able to flush a toilet more than once a day until the repairs are made - and that means no showers, no laundry, no dishwashing.

    One might hope BT's contractors are more careful. Good luck.

    Oh, and my speed is a nominal 15Mbps down, 3 Mbps up (a vast improvement over the 384k SDSL I had previously, but not a patch on the 100 Mbps Europe is seeing).

  26. Keith Turner

    The peasants don't need it . . .

    "I think the speed wars didn't provide value for customers...[they] don't give two hoots about speed."

    Ah, right.

    We are to be grateful for a connection, just a connection.

    How am I use their new video services then?

    Maybe another product -- for a price you can have a faster connection at the expense of others on the same bit of kit as you at the exchange.

    I want my spam and trojans to arrive promptly, thank you.

    If I'm gonna be part of a bot-net i want to be a damn good one.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More Upload speed please

    I am on upto 8MB get a round 6MB but most of the time, if am downloading patchs,etc i might as well be on 2mb for the speed you really get from websites, I (and proberly others) would like to see the Upload speed go faster.

    wow i can get upto 8mb down but only 512kb upload, what is that all about, sure they can up the upload speed to say 2 or 3mb when download is 8mb.

    i dont want to spend a day uploading my new Online Multiyplayer game to my dedicated server before i can setup a server and play on it with my mates.

    Come on, lets see the upload speed going up!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speed is everything.

    My connection (via Plusnet, now owned by BT) shows an ADSL connection speed of around 3.5MBit.

    At best I can get a download rate of 250KB or higher, but at peak times a speed test can return something less than 50KBit & I've seen it below 15Kbit - worse than dial-up.

    This seems to be down to the Contention, though they say this terminology is no longer used...

    Most of the country now has ADSL Max, the majority at 4MBit or higher (according to a BT page). Somehow I don't think the trunks/backbone have had the matching 8x speed increase from when 512K was the standard speed.

    At least when the best download rate was 50-60KBytes/sec it was possible to achieve this most of the time!

  29. Peter

    BT bells and whistles

    OK so BT's only offering "up to" 8 mbps (know for a fact that only about 2% of customers get that, but about 50% get charged for the "max" service)

    realistically more like 6.5 mbps....

    Anyway, the new shiny BT Vision (which incidentally can have up to 3,500 different errors in it, according to BT internal propaganda, sorry, paperwork) needs at least 3.5 mbps to even work (OK, it's just freeview down the phoneline at the moment, but as soon as they can afford it, more channels are planned)

    which takes you down to~ 3mbps.

    VoiP takes 2.5mbps (miniimum), so that 0.5mbps on a "max" phoneline.

    so if you want BT bells and whistles (why ?), better off getting a second line for an actaull internet connection.

    oh, and the fair use policy, they haven't got round to putting that in paperwork yet, so it's used as a "cover excuse" at the moment for slow connection.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT's bloody obsession with these boxes

    WTF is it with BT's obsession with these vision boxes, and home hubs? How did BT do it with the home hub? They searched far and wide for the most restrictive, non standard and above all unreliable router they could get their hands on, and called it a "home hub", that's how. People don't want home hubs, they want broadband that works. People don't want an extra voip line that costs the same as their normal phone line either. I set these things up for people and have never met anyone who actually needed a second phone line!

    And on the subject of "smart broadband"... does anyone actually know what happens to your broadband speed? First of all, let's say you could get 4Mbps at a reliable 10-12dB. What do BT do? They give you 6Mbps at an unreliable 6dB or worse. That makes your broadband line disconnect at certain times of day. Most people would like a reliable line at the expense of some speed, surely. Then, they decide that anything above 6.1Mbps is actually throttled down to 5.5. But you're on just under that, so they throttle you down to 5Mbps. So in effect you've got a line 1Mbps slower than it could be, and a whole lot more unreliable that it should be.

    I used to be with Pipex over a BT wholesale line. Never got more than 4.5Mbps, but never actually downloaded anything faster than 350KBytes/sec and it disconnected and lost sync 4-5 times an evening. After switching to the crappiest provider I could find, Talktalk, I now get a steady 3.5Mbps that only disconnects once an evening. My other phone line was switched to UK Online (via easynet) and I get a really reliable 4.8Mbps, which isn't throttled at all. I can download at 500Kbytes/second any time of day. Smart broadband from BT? I don't think so, even TalkTalk can provide a more reliable ADSL!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Grave mistake

    Speed and stability is all that matters. If they're not going beyond 24mbit, I'm going out of this country. They can't even provide a true 24mbit to most users in any case because of how bad the copper wires are at dealing with noise over distance!

    Normal users don't give two hoots about speed? I would suggest you give them a 100mbit line to live on for a few weeks and then change it back to the highest speed of 8mbit on the BT package, and see which one they prefer.

    Who on earth would like to wait for their downloads to complete while twiddling their thumb, it's a complete waste of time! With the increasing amount of data sent all over the world (games, movies, music), this wait will only increase!

    Next up, is how are we supposed to get IPTV etc... at 1080p in the near future, so I take it you want us to buy essentially 2 broadband lines, one for future streaming services, and the next is to actually use your computer on, hey that's great thinking! BT will get more money! Wait a sec.. in Hong Kong I have a single line costing £20 per month that is 100mbit that includes IPTV subscription! I'm not stupid! It's not hard to immigrate elsewhere you know! The UK will lose all the techies this way.

    BT is WAY too short sighted and are not taking into account the upcoming technologies, which are mostly reliant on the internet infrastructure. Not to mention, if BT is going to stop at 24mbit, the UK's rating as a technology provider will plummet, the next generation of budding internet entrepreneurs will be less motivated, overall it will have an impact to the wider economy in the UK!

    At the end of the day, BT is just idling until the majority of people start complaining, otherwise it's too much of a cash cow for them to do anything. Why did we privatised telecomms? They're just milking common citizens.

  32. Daniel Dearlove

    If we "don't give two hoots about speed", what do we give two hoots about?

    1. reliability - BT have an aging infrastructure, not just the backbone which 21CN will deal with. If you have to replace lines anywhere, might as well replace it with fibre and save all the maintenance costs. There has got to be a cost/benefit that a 2 year old can seen here. Instead of doing share buybacks and other short-termist profiteering, do the old-fashioned thing and invest in your infrastructure

    2. the Ronseal guarantee - "it does exactly what it says on the tin". If you say "unlimited", you can't put a little star at the side and make it mean the opposite. If you are limiting, you have to be transparent. If I have 50GB per month then say so. Ofcom, ISPA, ASA, where are you?

    3. traffic shaping - WTF!!! You're pissing in the wind with this, my friend. The only reason to have it is because you cannot invest in enough bandwidth and/or equipment so you are trying to eek out every last drop of bandwidth from what you have. Likely, you will need a large Technical Support department and plenty of Network Admins to manage the shaping and the grief. Cut the staff and traffic shaping then invest that money in bandwidth.

    4. quality equipment - get rid of the daft 2wire routers that don't dish out the router config webpages properly, constantly think my Linux machine is a router and yes I know I have a lot of open sessions. I am downloading a torrent!!! Get a range of decent equipment then let the customer buy/select it instead of me collecting door stops/paperweights.

    5. broadband is not a utility - your phone, gas, water and electricity are. If you lose service, the utility companies have a statutory requirement to deal with your lack of service within a certain timescale. Even though broadband is not a utility, Joe Public thinks ADSL has the same level of service as for their telephone. Check your Terms of Service (ToS) or ask your ISP's Technical Support; BT only promise to restore your service (if they can) but make no guarantees when that will happen AT ALL. The ADSL ToS I have seen specifically say that ADSL is not 100% reliable and they cannot give timescales for restoring service if you lose it. Make broadband a utility so a minimum level of service has to be guaranteed.

  33. Richard Neill


    Why can't we get and service with slightly decent upload speed? I'm trying to run a webserver here!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't make me laugh

    If nobody wants speed then who the hell wanted 21st century network??? £10 Billion GBP for a 24mb/s service if you live in your local telephone exchange.

    That sort of investment would bring ultra fast broadband to the masses but then again i suppose that part of the network has escaped regulation.

    Now that Openreach has been given the task of running the national network under the watchful eye of OFCOM i doubt very much that we will see any major investment to improve the current situation.

    This statement by BT regarding speed is not unexpected having escaped action by the regulator by separating the local network and effectively turning it into a separate business to provide access to other operators (LLU).

    It is not good business practice to invest millions on a network only to be forced into handing it over to someone else to cream off the revenue.

    "...or that I dont spend all my time watching videos at the same time as downloading illigal music." - What a joke!!!

    Some people think that just because they are ok when it comes to shoving out a few emails every evening and a bit of surfing on their old Pentium II everyone else must do the same.

    When you have a large family sharing a connection between 4 users who all want to use MSN, BEBO and whatever other services may come to mind then i could certainly do with more speed.

    The funny thing is that i called BT to order their Vision service the other day and was declined because my line did not meet the minimum speed of 4mb/s.

    I am currently subscribed to a BT 8mb/s service and within 1.6km of my local exchange.

    I can see reasons why BT are not willing to invest in FTTH but evidence is also becoming apparent that they are also not interested in upgrading a network which could now be up to 50 years old or more in places.

    Why should they want to invest capital in a network that a regulator could hand over to other operators to share for a pittance of what it originally cost to build and maintain?

    Surely then this does become a problem for UK plc if we want to build a national fibre network that gives every operator an equal slice of the cake?

    The BT statement about people not wanting more speed is a very blinkered judgement especially as there are a lot of people including myself who would be willing to pay more for a better/faster DSL service.

    Having had experience with Virgin Media and also suffered from their traffic management policy there appears to be no hope on the horizon for finding a service that fully meets my requirements.

    I have always thought that the best way to let your providor know your speed is not acceptable is to pick up the phone and/or write a letter and complain.

    Or at least make your voice heard via the regulator who at the very least may be prepared to investigate if enough people voice their concerns.

    So yes i myself and many others NEED more speed if only to take advantage of the current products and services that BT themselves are offering and not to break the law as other commentators suggest.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Then pay for it...

    If you're trying to run a web server, then pay for an uncontended symetrical service i.e. SDSL or a Leased Line. ADSL was never meant for hosting applications from.

    As for comments about 30% of Japan having FTTH - I'd guess that 30% is those that live in densely packed appartment blocks - It's very easy to provide high speeds to lots of people when they are crammed in line sardines.

  36. Nexox Enigma

    I feel lucky...

    Reading all these comments makes me feel rather lucky - I pay for 5mbit cable and regularly download at around 12mbit. True, for the same price I pay for 5mbit, other people with the same carrier in other parts of the country get upwards of 20mbit, but still, I like it.

    One rather ugly bit is that all customers, whether they pay for 4mbit or 20mbit are supposed to stay under 60GB per month download and 15GB upload. Now I've pulled down 100+GB in a single day (Not from torrenting, either,) and they haven't gotten too mad at me, but still, this seems quite imbalanced.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't need speed?


    "I think the speed wars didn't provide value for customers...[they] don't give two hoots about speed."

    And so we all use modems don't we!

    This is great guys and gals - now please copy every remark made here to your MP and to the DTI minister. Make a BIG noise. Make it count. Don't stop till we all have fibre.

  38. Lee Sexton

    We dont want more speed?

    Are you kidding me? I was lucky and ordered bt broadband but had a router sitting here to connect, so before it was "officially" enabled I could connect, trying to download some games (Metaboli, legal download of latest games Paul, we don't all pirate) was going at a whopping 24kb/s until 1am when it hit it's true speed, this was before any so-called "fair use" kicked in, an instant throttle. All the ISP's are at it, they throttle regardless of useage. Cut a long story short, 24kb/s was beyond a joke, I cancelled before it was enabled and got out of there (thankfully!). My current ISP of course throttles too, but not on the same ridiculous speeds as BT.

    ISP's want to stop oversubscribing, they are seriously underestimating the bandwidth that current internet offers and will only grow. What happens when the rest of the UK wants in on the broadband "bandwagon", are we going to see throttling 24/7?

    I have set up a petition, the amoutn of throttling going on is beyond a joke, speed DOES matter, and 24kb/s, 100kb/s (any throttling whatsoever) is simply unnaceptable, stop milking us with oversubscription. What do you get a pipe for? £7.95 per user last time I saw something. Theres plenty of scope to make money without oversubscribing, especially when you use Indian call centres for non-existant tech support.

    Please sign, I have also contacted magazines and MSP and MP, my MP is going to write to the minister in charge of all this so hopefully the state of UK broadband and the underhand tactics of ISP's ripping us off will be highlighted, this is a blight on business, education and us ordinary users, we are taking broadband further and further back in technological terms, not forward. 56k anyone?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1Mbit and under threat

    I am in Guildford and BT cannot give me more than 1Mbit because the line is so noisy that the ADSL modem won't sync at higher speed. In fact I need to use a Netgear box as the BTHomeHub wouldn't sync even at 1Mbit. On the other hand two months ago I generated more traffic than the "usage guideline" allows and they were very quick in sending a warning that if I keep doing that they will change me 30p for any additional GB of traffic (NOT written anywhere in their contract or on their website).

    So yes I agree with BT management: they have other things to worry about before they think about 100Mb download speeds. Advertising an 8Mb service is already a swindle and I wonder how many households in the UK they can really serve with that speed.

  40. Ian


    "to need so much speed? I never do, not even using a WII and online PC gaming and the internet at the same time."

    Well, the Wii doesn't have any real online capability, so I'm not really sure how that's in any way relevant to the discussion.

    Compare this to a more internet oriented console like the XBox 360 and you'll see why, when I can download demos of games that can be 1gb+ in size, right now I have little choice due to articial bandwidth limitations but to leave my XBox on overnight, ignoring the fact of course that this is a horrific waste of power in a day and age where we're supposed to be cutting the amount of time we leave machines on, this is hardly a situation that we should be expected to deal with in todays world of large-media where there are plenty of solutions to the problem.

    There are plenty of other examples of legal use and requirements for high bandwidth, so to suggest piracy is the only true use is completely and utterly ignorant and shows lack of understand of the internet both as it is now and more prominently, the internet as it's growing and as it will be within the next 5 years. Things like downloadable movies (legal) will become far more common place.

    Of course then there's the non-home user side of fix, if I need to grab a Linux ISO to build a Linux box, having to wait until tommorrow is simply unacceptable, I may well need that updated ISO today - even for home users this can be an issue, not all of us have every day of the week free like ISPs seem to assume, when some of us need to do something, we sometimes need to do it now, not tommorrow when we've promised to take the kids to the cinema or whatever. What if our Linux laptops mess up and we find the need for us to fix our laptop the day before we go on holiday be it for work or business by downloading the ISO as we no longer have the CD or need an updated version? Frankly we're stuffed, this isn't an unrealistic scenario as I've been a victim of it. Moving back more to the business side, what about companies using VPNs? Sometimes you need to be able to shift large amounts of data between your home and your company, particularly if your company is based in a different country and you're doing contract work for example!

    If you're going to accuse people of needing high speed broadband only because they are illegal filesharers you should at least research your claims first to make sure they actually have some grounding, unfortunately you couldn't be more wrong and again it just shows how utterly ignorant of the need for high speed broadband in various legimitate scenarios you actually are.

  41. Phil Thompson

    Where's the rest of the industry ?

    If BT aren't pushing higher speed and if it is a viable market where are the startups and competing providers ? Why are new housing developments reliant on BT's USO to provide phone lines, rather than wiring in Ethernet sockets and fibre distribution systems from whoever (or cable from Virgin for that matter) ?

    You can get pretty well any speed if you are prepared to pay for it, getting it cheaper needs investment and there's no rule that says it has to be BT making it.

    Download Speed: 11394 kbps (1424.3 KB/sec transfer rate)

    Upload Speed: 636 kbps (79.5 KB/sec transfer rate)

    2 * BT lines using Sharedband

  42. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Please sir, may I have some more?

    I'm in agreement with several posters above: I don't give a *damn* for packages, bundles, agreements, 'fair use' (for whom?). I don't want fancy modems that insist on only connecting to a single MAC address. I don't want 'must run' Windows packages. I don't want modems that require you to log in every now and again.

    All I want is a box with an RJ45 (and if pushed, a DHCP server, but preferably a fixed IP address) on my side and a telco on the other. Plug in, get connection. It's not exactly difficult, guys. If I want, for example, to run a firewall box between the RJ45 and the rest of my system, no problem. If I want to run multiple computers behind my own NAT, no problem. If I want to run a DMZ server, no problem.

    I'm quite prepared to pay for it... but where is it?

    Aye well, back to testing some new 40gb/s fibres at work...


  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lee Sexton - Get A Clue

    I think you need to get a clue on how ADSL supplied by BT Wholesale works. Yes, the tail ends cost around £8.50/month - but that's just for the connection, that doesn't include any bandwidth that the user uses, which works out at around £200/mbit/month based on 622 Central pricing - and then that doesn't include onwards Internet transit, or the cost of routers, LNS etc. (Start thinking 6 figures, then keep on going).

    If you don't want any sort of speed restriction, then you have to pay for it, ADSL is a contended service, if you want a 1:1 high speed service, get a leased line.

  44. Phill

    I'd be happy at 1mbit

    All this talk about 2, 4, 6, 8 etc Mbit is just making me cry. I wish I could get any of those, but sadly, because we live 7km from the exchange, no ISP will even offer me more that 512k. Maybe BT should sort this problem out rather than keep concentrating on the top end. Oh, BT don't even do a 512k!!

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fibre to the door - commercial suicide for BT?

    Let me weigh in with my 2 pennethworth. I am no lover of BT, was an IT consultant when broadband was rolled out and experienced the frustration of rural villages who (in the early days) looked as if they would never receive any type of BB service (oh that's Broad Band, not Big Brother).

    Sadly, there is a reality here which is easily overlooked. Although BT is still in a near monopolistic position, they are not a nationalised company. This means that they do not do things for the general good but for the benefit of their shareholders. As a PLC, their be-all-and-end-all is the delivery of profits to shareholders and so everything they do has to be measured using this as a goal. "Will it make money?” If the answer is yes, then they will do it. If any other answer is the outcome - they probably won't.

    They would love to deliver fibre to the door, sadly it is currently uneconomical - if they provide it for "new builds", they also have to provide copper (as far as I understand Ofcom's direction regarding competition). If BT were allowed 2 years of sole access to the fibre, then they would do this. however, the instant it is rolled out it, Ofcom say that it should be open to LLU. Where is the incentive from BT to invest hundreds of millions in this technology if, as soon as it is laid, it will be whipped out from under their noses and they lose the revenue stream.

    To roll fibre out under these conditions would be business lunacy and it's interesting to note that no other infrastructure company appears to be considering this - and the calls for fibre to the door only every appears to be pointed in BTs direction.

    As I said earlier, I am not an apologist for BT but I do understand the commercial reality of the current situation and empathise with BT - to roll out fibre to the door could be commercial suicide.

  46. lordasb

    sell the copper to china

    then replace with fibre, given the price of scrap copper in china i would have thou it would have covered some of the costs of replacing with fibre... but they best move quick...

    some fokes said about homehubs, so far only had 5 people get them installed, and 5 fokes who i have had to remove the bt software off their laptops so they could connect to any wireless network other than their homehub, 2 of them have sent them back and replaced with netgear dg834g's, you might laugh but aol had the right idea, take a good router that nurds use and supply that to customers in stead of making something for them selfs. it was cheeper, didnt cost as much to develop and if it all went tits up, blame netgear :-)

  47. Simon Greenwood


    Phil Thompson asks where the startups are, and the answer is, no-one can afford the investment required to create a competing infrastructure, as has been the case since the UK needed a public data network. Virgin/NTL have inherited a structure that has been growing for 25 years through mergers and takeovers and it is still nowhere near as complete as BT's, which has of course had the best part of a hundred years to evolve. The only ISP to my knowledge to actively exploit the unbundling of the local loop has been Easynet in parts of London, and that was due in part to a relationship with Cable London which may or may not still exist. There are all sorts of semi-finished and unfinished projects around the country - a company whose name escapes me now laid fibre around Leeds and down the M1 a few years ago, but I can't find any evidence of whether they're still trading.

    I have worked in the past for an US ISP-cum phone provider who could offer vast transatlantic bandwidth and international voice rates as a tier one provider but who got absorbed into one or other of the US phone companies and just disappeared off the public map as their parent company had another tier one provider in London all ready. In short, unless someone can pony up the money to create an alternative national data backbone and deliver it to the doorstep, There Is No Alternative. It's a perennial complaint, and one that won't end until BT itself is unbundled.

  48. Chris Cheale

    What are you doing to need so much speed?


    Software beta-testing - last one was a 2.2gig download initially, had to install GetRight and leave it running overnight (and that's on a 4meg Cable connection) and of course, because it's beta software, there's patches and the netcode may not be properly optimised yet.

    Transferring data (teleworking occasionally) - not that much of an issue since Flash drives are dirt cheap and, even with graphic design projects, I seldom need to transfer more than a gig from work to home or vice-versa ... however access to the office image repository would be nice from home; 10k+ images each between 5 and 50 megs.

    Multimedia downloads - you don't need to be on BitTorrent, go visit, there are some decent unsigned bands out there.

    Gaming/VOIP - bandwith is not so much the issue here, these are all "real time" services so need low latency.

    It's actually really easy to munch up bandwidth - and the more people are encouraged to telework, use VoIP or VoD the more data will have to be crammed down the lines. Hell I could really use a 100mbs+ SDSL connection NOW forget 24mbs ADSL in 5 years time - oki I might be an "early adopter" but it's only gonna get worse.

  49. Daniel Voyce

    Its not important to you? (good because we cant provide it!)

    Hahaha this makes me laugh, of course BT are going to say that it's not the main thing that users want if their network cannot support it.

    So BT has now got Phones, Broadband and IPTV? When the Broadband speed maxes out and IPTV starts to evolve how are they going to secure the future of these new technologies if their network has a cap on what it can support (and not a very big one at that?)

    Virgin (as pissed off as I am with them right now) might have made what seems like a crappy decision on bandwidth throttling, but then again I was getting 650kb/s out of my 4MB line the other night - so it cant be all that bad?

  50. Dillon Pyron

    6 Mb regularly

    I get a regular 6Mb from Road Runner. Last night (well, 3 this morning) I saw 8Mb. Meanwhile, my neighbor, on AT&T DSL, gets about 2Mb.

  51. Duncan Robertson

    I feel the need.....


    I live in rural North East Scotland and when I tried to get ADSL, BT didn't even know my exchange existed. I was sorely tempted to take a photo and send it into them, the postage to Mumbai would have been more expensive than BT Broadband though..... However, after much badgering, I now have a 6-7 Mbit/s connection seeing as hardly anyone else in the village has ADSL and I'm 150m away from the exchange. I'm the only nerd in the village!

    Up here in the sticks, BT have had a tendency to use Aluminium and install DACS in pretty damn near all lines. DACS made even 56k modems struggle - how long ago was that? My in-laws, who live just a hop skip and a jump away, firstly struggled to get DSL due to the DACS and now can only get 1.5 Mbit/s after it was removed. The cause? Mmmmm, could it be the Aluminium?

    I understand that FTTH would be extremely expensive, however so is the 21CN. I mean, do we not have to have the infrastructure in place to support all these fantastic new services through BT's shiny new boxes, before the content can BE delivered.

    The "new" BT Home Hub boxes are a bit of a piece of sh*t anyway. For starters, they don't support anything stronger than WEP. Whilst that might be fine for me up here in my rural Highland paradise, that's not exactly the war-driving capital of the universe, down in central Westminster might be just a bit different.... I sure as hell wouldn't want anything less than WPA2 with a long length non-dictionary based passphrase. Paranoid, yes. Sensible, yes. However, I once sat in a mate's flat with my laptop in Edinburgh and it picked up a wireless network. "Oooh, might as well grab some scuzz whilst we're here". Clickety-click, the prick had only left the default admin password on the router and NO encryption enabled. Sorry if you are reading this mate, I doubt it, but it was for your benefit in the long run I swear..... I sent a message ("Tut, tut, tut! Should have at least gone with WEP") to his PC using the NETBIOS name, enabled the default encryption and changed the admin router password. Bad, I know! However, it just shows that with a little knowledge, I could have hijacked his machine and made it a proxy for whatever I liked (<- insert dodgy illegal practice here) AND got away with it.

    Anyway, I digress and rant away. What I would like to see is all the ISP's and Telco's getting together and investing in the UK data infrastructure. With all this talk of convergence and data services, should they not be working collaboratively to enhance the position of the UK on the stage of the connected global economy? If the UK is going to outsource all the manufacturing, service and resource industries to countries like India and China, becoming a nation where innovation and ideas are our major export, then surely we need to concrete our position at the top of the digital food chain!

    Jesus I think I sounded like McSherry there <- those who know me, know what I mean!

  52. Derek Foley

    Contention ratio

    Users should be more bothered about bottlenecks and contention ratios based on them "sharing" such a supposed great speed with 50 other people, which is no wonder sometimes web access seems like a 56k modem at peak times.

  53. Derek Foley

    better upstream

    One major issue is the poor ratio of upstream for ADSL. The ISPs and telcos are worried about improving upstream capabilities for fear of killing the leased line market, which can spend up to £16k a year on 2mb both ways (up and down) (I'm sure this is the wrong figure now - this was the cost a couple of years back)

    I'm sure a lot of businesses are using ADSL instead because of the cost saving, but for us consumers, we really are more demanding in terms of data.

    Video phones would be the obvious killer app, or remote cctv monitoring, which is something I've tried, imagine having a decent webcam chat with a relative via your pc or console, without rubbish codecs designed for 56k modems.

    With 25k (which remember is approx 2.5k a second upstream) these things are just a dream without a decent upstream connection, and of course SDSL if you can get it is still out of reach cost wise for consumers.

  54. Derek Foley

    Contention ratio

    Users should be more bothered about bottlenecks and contention ratios based on them "sharing" such a supposed great speed with 50 other people, which is no wonder sometimes web access seems like a 56k modem at peak times.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fixed ratios...

    ..aren't applicable any more with BT, they scrapped the contention ratio a long time back now, in favour of a guaranteed minimum speed. With the products aimed at office users having traffic priority at congested times.

    Most home users aren't bothered about upstream, the headline download speeds are more attractive to them - You can't have faster upstream without lowering the downstream (Max up for ADSLv1 is 1Mbit/s AFAIK).

    If users want un-contended, they should be prepared to pay for it, with high-end routing equipment to run a decent service costing more than your average users house, someone has to pay for it.

  56. Mal Franks

    Would settle for getting 1Mbit/sec of an evening recently

    There seems to be quite few BT broadband users finding it very slow of an evening all of a sudden (as the BT support newsgroups will testify) including myself.

    During the day I get about 3 to 5Mbit/sec download speed or more, however come the evening it drops down to 0.4Mbit/sec and even as far as 0.1Mbit/sec. Strangely this slow speed only happens with port 80, switch to another port and its back to normal speeds. Around midnight normal service resumes.

    Date 13/06/07 20:02:02

    Speed Down 3249.26 Kbps ( 3.2 Mbps )

    Speed Up 372.75 Kbps ( 0.4 Mbps )

    Port 8095


    Date 13/06/07 20:04:03

    Speed Down 215.91 Kbps ( 0.2 Mbps )

    Speed Up 373.46 Kbps ( 0.4 Mbps )

    Port 80

    Can't use BT's speed test as it claims that my IP address doesn't match the one allocated to my phone number.

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