back to article Broadband claims mislead on speed

There is a huge gap between advertised broadband speeds and the actual speeds users can achieve, new research from consumer group Which? has shown. A survey by the organisation found that broadband packages promising speeds of up to 8Mbps (megabits per second) actually achieved far less. Tests of 300 customers' net connections …


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  1. Neil Hoskins


    It's not just the distance from the exchange. Our crappy unbundled TalkTalk "up to 8Mb/s" is less than half the speed that our bundled "up to 2Mb/s" BT service was.

    Also, why the hell are they upgrading their exchanges to give us "up to 24Mb/s" having already said that most of us can't even get the current "up to" speeds? Why don't they spend the money on fibre to the home instead?

    Is it me?

  2. Mozzy

    "8" meg sucks!

    I was "upgraded" while on Demon from 2 meg (which i got most of the time) to "up to 8 meg" i thought i'd see maybe 4 meg or so... but no my connection was worse than when I was on 2 meg! Plus in the first month I was on it i got hit with the previously unadvertised moving goalpost figure of a magically appearing 50 gig download limit in any 30 days which they could shift around to suit them.... i got put back to 128k in the day and 2 gig at night. What was funny though was this happened 3 days after I gave notice to say I wanted to cease the "service". At this point I'd got 2 lines due to a cock up chaging providers the previous year and the year was up on the line so I'd applied with Be to be notified as soon as their service was available in my area. They had emailed me I replied and within 2 weeks they'd sent out my equipment and given me a date for the start of my service which was on the monday after i'd heard from Demon on the Friday..... I was aused and annoyed that this had happened just after i'd said i was leaving...... But i thought what the hell.... if I get a bit faster speeds on Be i'll be happier (I knew the distance from the exchange was still going to be a factor), the net result was far in excess of what i expected - I usually get around 16 megabits per second and I think they are a great reliable company with excellent communication and customer service.

    A very happy Be-ing ;)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Misled? Shurely shome mishtake

    Advertisers in bullshit claims shock? Next they'll be telling us that tatty face cream really doesn't make you look younger, that burgers make you fat, that cars pollute and that the Pope really is Catholic.

    All advertising has a basic mission to deceive, bamboozle and cheat the public into believing outrageous claims for woefully average products. They all skirt on the very edge of telling outright lies and I don't see why the broadband suppliers are any different. They all know one thing, it's a monopoly industry (i.e. buying the same milk just in different bottles) and your recourse is absolutely minimal. Welcome to monopoly capitalism folks.

  4. JasonW

    Shock! Horror! ISPs in non-delivery outrage

    No doubt the 300 customers had followed "Which?"s best buy policy which probably recommended Tiscali....

    So nobody can get 8M - well I don't live on top of the exchange - and I do, sync at 8128/832, downloads hit 840kBytes/sec - great. The vicar up the road also syncs at 8128 yet he gets 30-50kBytes/sec tops. Same exchange, same router. The only difference is in ISP.

    As for the "laws of physics applying immediately it leaves the exchange" - don't they apply inside the BT network? That explains the high cost of calls then.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Laws of Physics

    A BT spokesman said "The laws of physics start applying as soon as it leaves the exchange".

    Does that mean they don't apply inside the exchange?

    We should be told.......

  6. Rob

    I'm surprised still...

    ... at the general public for not working out that Marketing people's sole purpose is too mislead with the most factual words possible (maybe not completely in the right order mind).

  7. gautam

    Charge Pro Rata

    Hows about if OFCOM makes a law and consumers insist that we should be charged pro-rata per the actual average speeds received? eg if you get 4Mbps, you shud be charged half of the normal monthly fee!

    Just like phone bills being charged per usage .

    Now this would be interesting and the four letter word "upto" will become history in ISp adverts.

  8. Lyndsay Williams

    Broadband speed is fine

    I have been with NTL then Virgin Media since around 1999, living in Cambridge. The old Surfboard S83100 modem capped at 4Mbits/second. I was paying for 20Mbits/sec. In July I phoned Virgin and asked why I was not receiving the 20Mbits/sec I was paying for. I was told the Surfboard modem was too slow and got a FREE upgrade to a new E08c007 modem. (I rent the modem from Virgin) . I now get 15.6Mbits/sec and higher.

    Lyndsay Williams

  9. paul

    it will allow for broadband speeds of up to ...

    ... 24Mb

    ... 50Mb

    ... 100Mb

    ... 1000Mb

    they can upgrade their network all they like.

    I think we all know why the actual speeds advertised can't be achieved, but it will not stop them advertising what amounts to utter rubbish.

    Last mile fibre?

    Now that would be a network upgrade worth talking about.

  10. Ian

    Not this again

    which bit of 'upto' do people not understand?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How come Which? doesn't? get? the? Yahoo! treatment!...?

  12. Dan

    What a suprise

    A utility in Britain performing well below advertised spec whilst subscribers pay through the nose for a service substandard at every level. The British business philosophy: Look at what companies in other countries are doing, do it here ten times as badly, charge 10 times as much.

  13. Stuart

    BT Exchanges are special?

    "Virtually no-one will get it. The laws of physics start applying as soon as it leaves the exchange and you would have to live on top of the exchange to get the full 8 megabits."

    So does that mean that the laws of physics don't apply inside the exchange?!?

    Perhaps BT can fill us on on how they managed that.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slow to re-act

    How is it that the BBC reports this story on the 2/8/07

    and el reg, finger on the pulse of IT, takes 5 days longer?

    I feel a whip needs to be cracked.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    > A BT spokesman said "The laws of physics start applying as soon as it leaves the exchange".

    > Does that mean they don't apply inside the exchange?

    The exchanges are probably designed by the same people who buitl the tardis, it is a british telephone box after all... :)

  16. Chris

    If we can't get 8mb..

    ..why can I get (according to the sync page on my modem) 8000 Kbps down/768 Kbps up, and regularly max my connection out?

    Admittedly I'm just under 1K away from the exchange, but even so..

    I'm with UKOnline (Easynet/Sky) and everyone I know who is with them, and on the same exchange, gets the full advertised speed they pay for (oh, and on the 8mb and above services, it's a 500gig per month download cap...not too shabby, and beats the piss out of BTs paltry offering)

    Perhaps people should reconsider who they pay for their service, rather than just fall for the hype/adverts, then complain when it doesn't work as they thought it would.

  17. Haku

    Re: Not this again

    "which bit of 'upto' do people not understand?"

    If you bought a fast car that was advertised it could get up to 160mph and in tests you found it could only achieve 90mph you'd be a bit peeved, especially if another owner of the same mode/make could reach 140mph with the same tests.

    Advertising is generally about trying to fool the public into spending money, but really if you bought a broadband connection that was advertised as up to 8meg you'd have an expectation of being able to get at least half that speed, but if you only got 1meg then complaints would I think be quite valid.

    The services advertised as "up to X meg" should perhaps also have a "minimum X meg" somewhere in the advertising and contract conditions so you know you won't get an atrocious connection speed.

  18. jon

    which bit of 'upto' do people not understand?

    which bit of 'upto' do people not understand?

    so good its worth saying twice

  19. Frank Bough


    I pay for 4Mb/sec DL and I get... 4Mb/sec DL. They DO throttle me back in the evenings sometimes, but it's a contended service, and that was made clear when I bought it. Seeing how much we pay for our E1 lines at work, I think £25pcm is reasonable, though obviously I'd be even happier to pay the same for more.

    As for charging pro rata - be careful what you wish for...

  20. Martin Saunders

    line rate and data rate

    I somewhat suspect there is some confusion between line rate (ie what the ADSL modem trains up at) and IP data rate (ie what you can realistically expect to get from a single TCP session less overheads etc).

    An 8mb line rate less ~20% for IP in PPP in ATM overheads (a fact of life when using BT's current wholesale offering) gives a generally achievable maximum IP data rate of 6.5Mbps. What you get in the real world can be a fair bit lower than this dependent on limitation in how TCP works, packet size etc etc.

    This doesn't excuse the confusion, just adds to it..

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lies, Dam Lies and ISP's

    I may open up an ISP.

    You will get "Up 10gb connection". Yup that's right. Granted you'll have to be directly connected to the core backbone and soon as it leaves the building it will go down or 0.001k, but hey that's your problem, not mine.

  22. Steve Browne

    I pay for up to 8Mb

    But, I live a couple of miles from the exchange and had previous 'tests' stating I could get 2Mb on my line, so I wanted an up to 2Mb service, which was not offered with a static IP address. As the static IP address was more important to me, and in the knowledge that I could get 2MB, I signed up for the service with UK Online.

    The router claims to be connected at around 5Mbps, with an upload connection at 768Kbps and from guesstimating, I am getting downloads in the 4.5Mb region.

    I would much prefer to pay for the 4Mb service level, but otherwise I have no complaint. The service is faster than I expected, so, I am quite content with what I have received.

    The laws of physics are modified in the exchange to work slower to enable BT to keep up with technology. I mean, the Post Office only had one telephone with one of those new fangled transistors in it when I worked for them (we parted in 1976) and transistors had been around for some time then.

    Considering they were talking about neighbourhood wireless networks in the 70s shows the level of progress they make.

    Ionica tried this, but missed out completely on what they could have done had they used a bit of imagination. They had a microwave link to their customers houses and could easily have wiped BT out of the ISP market then. It would have been so easy for them to multiplex a 64K (or faster) channel on top of the phone signal. I believe they would have made a serious killing. They didnt seem to understand what they had, no foresight and down the pan they went. Shame.

  23. Smallbrainfield

    Mate over from Tokyo

    gets 100Mb/sec on a bad day. He normally gets about 125MB/sec and pays about £15 a month.

    I pay £19 for a service that runs at about a hundredth of the speed. Doesn't it make you sick...

  24. Jason

    The problem...

    Is not with the lines, it will be your ISPs centrals being overloaded, and they can't afford new ones as BT charge so goddamn much

    For example, when I was on Pipex, I struggled to get over 3mbps in the evening, switched to ADSL24, same PC, router, and cables, and I get 6mbps almost constantly, and usually a lot higher.

    BT have always made it clear that the service is "upto", so we can't blame BT for that. We can, however, blame BT for charging so much for a BT central that ISPs cannot afford to buy new ones when their current centrals are full. Or maybe we should blame the general public for demanding lower and lower prices, thus meaning that ISPs do not make enough money to be able to afford to buy new centrals?

    Either way, the ADSL MAX technology is great, as long as your ISP has enough bandwidth on the backend to support the faster speeds.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why advertising needs BETTER standards

    "All advertising has a basic mission to deceive, bamboozle and cheat the public into believing outrageous claims for woefully average products."

    And that's precisely why we need to abolish the ASA and replace it with an organisation that insists on advertisers cannot SAY anything that's in the least untruthful.

    Simple answer is to prohibit "up to" claims and insist they mention only the "guaranteed minimum" and be held accountable for it. Or be allowed to say "up to" but be held to be in breach of contract if at any time you cannot in fact get up to that speed.

    Exactly the same applies to "unlimited" claims. If they say it, they must MEAN it. And stop the pussyfooting.

  26. Ben DAMET

    on the otherside of the channel

    In Paris,

    we are slowly geting 50Mb symetrical optical links with bundled TV (50+ channels, some HD), free landlines calls (national and international, heck even USA mobiles are free), telephone bridging capabilities (free call from China to USA mobile, as both are free in the contract using you as a middlepoint) for 30€ a month.

    This is an evolution from the 28 Mb ATM (so some 24Mb IP) Adsl2+ lines, which gave the same serice with only a coulpe megs uploads. You even have acess tothe Adslinterleave modes to chose from so you can geta faster less reliable line (What I use), or a slower less error introducing line (chich somehow is beter fr VoIp and TV). I currently have the 24M service and get 2.8MB own quite often, using high troughput servers as source, our multiple parralel souces (as Bitorrent).

    If you are not happy with this kind of speed you can also get dedicated server with low spec hardware but with 100Mb symetrical link for 30€ a month.

    You can even stream media from a VLC application to your TV box, which is separated from the model and can communicate using WiFI with the standalone router/modem. Tehre is a user moifiable interface working with the TV thingy to control taht fromwherever ou wish. All of that is provided for free in the contract.

    Knowing that I a moving to Britain in the next months, I feel really abd about he quality of service. No provider would cap ther lines in France, and no provier would have a customer (well maybe AOL customers but they ought to be banned for the Internet) would nowdays accept 'reasonable usage' conditions in the contract.

    I wonder why Proxad is not going to UK, they would bury the rest of the market in no time. I guess the network infrastructure is not good enough, or maybe they are already behind one of the operators and getting exessive amounts of cash through the lack of competent concurrence.

    Ps : Food is better on this side of the channel too, even though coleslaw is seriously nice :)

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I have recently left Virgin Media not due to the pitiful download speeds, but capacity issues.

    I originally signed up for the 1/2 meg unlimited service way back when and i enjoyed a good service. As times changed and other service providers started selling higher speeds, i received free upgrades to the latest offerings, which sounds very nice. My line only permitted a max throughput of 0.7 meg but i knew and understood the restrictions and still received a good service.

    Then along came 8meg. I started to achieve downloads of about 1.4 meg which sounds great, but what they never mentioned was the fact the were using something called interleaving. Now i won't pretend to understand the in's and out's of interleaving but the net outcome was higher speeds at the cost of latency.

    As a gamer, i would never take a knowing hit on my latency to achieve higher speeds. To me, this should have been advertised. Anyway, after a few calls to the tech services at Virgin i finally managed to persuade them to downgrade me to the 2meg service (no interleaving) but still paying for an 8meg service !!!

    Over the last 9 months, my latency has been slowly creeping up to a point where FPS games and voice comms have become unusable. Virgin's answer to there own greed, selling more than the capacity they can handle and causing degradation in performance was to change the end user policy to permit themselves to cap high users. Which is crap, either put a visible cap on the service or increase capacity to cope with customers demands.

    Finally i gave up, Virgin had to go. I changed ISP to BT 2 weeks ago and noticed my latency drop to 10% of what i was getting through Virgin and that is on the 8meg service with interleaving active again. My speeds are D 1.4 / U 0.45 with an average and very steady latency of 36.

    High bandwidth is no use if it takes 5 seconds to get a response from the server....

    oops, just read this back and realised it is just me ranting. I feel better though :)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Not only can we not get we wont be able to get 24Mpbs either...

    how cool is that!

  29. Tony Cheetham

    Usual rubbish..

    Im sure a lot of you know this, but for the unaware..

    I'm afraid nobody can get 8Mb, because that is 8 megabits, which if you work it out is actually about 1000KB per second(Or there abouts). People who get 840KB a second are very lucky and in a minority, and still not getting close to the promised 8Mb. As the BT engineer explains, you would literally have to be plugged directly into the fibre optic switches in the exchange to get that speed, which funnily enough is what all those high speed countries do to get the silly speeds.

  30. Dave

    Be Unlimited FTW!

    I finally got my phone line sorted (BT saga, story for another day)

    I ordered my broadband at 6pm Friday night, it was activated and in use by 6am the following Thursday!

    I get 18meg down (link) and 1.4meg up (link)

    Reality is i can download at around 1.6mb/s - providing the server im downloading from isn't too busy and upload up to around 130kb/s

    I've downloaded over 100Gb in the first week, and had no notice, no throttling or anything. They really are an amazing ISP - oh and a free modem/router which fully supports FXO and FXS for VOIP!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop complaining!

    BT can now give the limited edition BLACK homehub!!! How cool is that?!?

    Now about the standard white homehub: I have one of those but my BT line is so bad that it would not sync AT ALL at any speed. So I must use a Netgear box which can sync at 1 Mb/sec. Obviously I'm paying for an "up to 8Mbit" service.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VM Tosh......

    I too am a recently disgruntled VM customer. I understand this issue is slightly different to that of the physical restrictions which apply to an ADSL LLU connection however I thought it relevant.

    I recently downgraded my Connection with VM to their lowest 2Mb service. This was as a result of the recent 'Traffic Management' policy. Whether you want to call it capping or not, in my eyes it is an intentional restriction. When you apply such a restriction to a service which is advertised as 'Unlimited' you impose a limit (key word).

    I have been a United Artists/Telewest/VM customer for around 12 years now (under whichever guise) and have allways subscribed to the largest package available for both Broadband, TV and Telephone. So my conversation with their representative went something like this....

    Me: Hello, I have been a customer now for around 12 years and have always felt that the services you provide have been great value for money, however this is no longer the case.

    VM: Oh, we're sorry to hear that sir, why do you feel that this is the case?

    Me: We 3 things really....

    1. The loss of chanels such as Sky Sports News, Sky News and Sky One without a direct replacement/compensating price reduction - (I dont see Virgin Central as a direct replacement as the nature of the content is completely differednt).

    2. The recent implementation of the 'Traffic Management' policy on your broadband service - This being the my Major Complaint

    3. The fact that new customers are recieveing rates far superior to myself for the very same services does not provide any incentive for loyalty.

    VM: Ah, I understand your complaint sir. With regards to the broadband service we have just provided with you a free upgrade from a 10Mb to a 20Mb service.

    Me: Is this the free upgrade that resulted in (£2/month) added to my bill? Doesnt seem free to me. Is this the free upgrade that runs hand in hand with a new policy that sees me for 8 hours (thats 33%) of every day only able to use 25% of that service a deliberate 75% redution?

    VM: Ah but sir here we believe that all our customers should be treated equally and one should not have a larger share of the service than another.

    Me: To be honest it is not really my concern how you treat the rest of your customers, this is for you (the supplier) to be concerned with. My concern is that you do not provide me with the for which service you charge me. So how about for a third of each billing cycle I only pay 25% of the advertised chage?

    VM: Sorry sir thats not an option. How about you use the service out side of restricted hours if you have demanding requireements?

    Me: Well to be honest the reason I subscribe to your highest band service is to enable me to recieve content on demand, this content is invariably greater than the 3GB triger for your 'Trafic Management' policy. If I am unable to recieve this content on demand and have download this whilst I am at work or over night I might as well downgrade to the minimum package which is about half the price.

    VM: Ah I see thats no problem sir.

    Me: And in fact whilst you're on the line you might as well cancel my subscription to Sky Sports and Movies and remove the second CableBox from the other room.

    To cut an already long story short(er)......

    This conversation resulted in VM loosing half their monthly revenue from me. I wonder how many other customers will realise the above and have the same conversation?

  33. This post has been deleted by its author

  34. Greg

    Cable FTW!

    This is why cable internet access kicks ass. It's supposed to be a contended service, right? Because my connection never slows down. I'm supposed to get 4Mb/s. I get....4Mb/s. Constantly. Always. (Except when NTL used to give me free upgrades to higher speeds, just for kicks.) And does it ever drop the connection? Maybe once a year.

    Granted, Virgin are trying their best to ruin a god NTL service, but still, my cable line is the most rock solid net access I've ever known.

  35. Martin Saunders

    Re: VM Tosh.....

    "This conversation resulted in VM loosing half their monthly revenue from me. I wonder how many other customers will realise the above and have the same conversation?"

    I suspect [1] you were costing VM multiple times that amount in Broadband bandwidth costs before they started to 'traffic manage' your connection. Running a national network is very expensive in the UK, but a big user base (500K+) will generally have a low average utilization per user which is why, with very tight profit margins, that network doesn't cost much per line.

    Once a small percentage of lines start to push up the average usage the providers cost base rapidly increases to the point of being unprofitable. You either have to then:

    a) Take the hit of the extra cost, as you're making tons of money on a related service (rare in the UK)

    b) control the heavy users usage

    c) charge the heavy users more to recoup some of the extra cost

    If you're in the minority that causes the majority of bandwidth use, unless you pay more don't be surprised if your provider wants a chat.

    [1] Based on your explanation of being a heavy user, I might be totally wrong in your case.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rotten state of affairs

    I agree with the post above about VM. I have been with them for about 6 years and generally found their internet service very good and even now get pretty well the 20mb I pay for. But it's expensive, I also don't have any other option as the adsl route seems to be unsatisfactory with poor speeds and capping. VL introduced their cap a few months ago, possibly their best attempt to shoot themselves in the foot ever! A woefully innept strategy that has angered thousands. I also chucked my TV service in January and will chuck VM as soon as a reliable, uncapped, truly unlimited, high speed service provider comes along. I am not holding my breath.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    First and foremost for BT, 21CN is an upgrade to allow them to provide voice calls at a considerably recuced cost, and so reduce tarifs and compete with all the VoIP companies. Allowing faster broadband connections is a bonus and won't be given any priority.

    Many exchanges are listed as being due for an upgrade within 12 months, however if you look into the specifics of it, they will only be upgrading the PSTN systems, not moving ISP traffic over to it (using ADSL2+).

    I think BT know there's little point in making a fuss about mega high speed connections if most customers are still connected over flaky old copper and aluminium wires that get nobbled by TalkSPORT when the sun goes down, so eventually there will be upgraded to put fibre as far out from the exchange as they can. But that's years away and no one's going to want to foot the bill for it.

    The only thing that may push BT into finally rolling out ADSL2+ nationwide is lots of LLU providers like Be and Sky doing it privately, leading to the other ISPs stuck on ADSL Max to complain to BT that they're losing customers.

  38. Ian Ferguson

    It's advertising

    Advertising is based on lies. Period. Should we start getting shirty with McDonalds because they describe their latest fat-filled greaseburger as 'tasty', when only four out of ten people polled return a maximum verdict of 'nearly tasty'...?

    (Well, actually, yes)

  39. Dillon Pyron

    Marketing words

    I used to be a sysadmin for an advanced micro devices manufacturer here in Austin (shouldn't name them). We sat next to the marketing guys. They all but admitted that the phrases they used were known in the business as "weasel words".

    I've got Road Runner. Advertised 4 Mb/s. Last night got 6, Saturday afternoon got 8. No throttling.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes, I know what "up to" means, but...

    As pointed out, they might as well advertise "up to 200 Mbps" and would that be truthful too?

    I had a Bulldog "up to" 2Mbps contract. Reasonably happy, usually around 1500 kbps.

    They offered me "up to" 8 Mbps if they took over the phone line from BT (ie an LLU exchange) and the total cost worked out about the same with some minor benefits such as caller ID included, cheaper international calls etc.

    I still got 1500 kbps or often much worse.

    So I "upgraded" and got exactly the same level of speed, but much worse service generally.

    For example, now my router would spend a few hours having fits, rebooting, keeping a connection up for about 1 minute, then repeat. This could go on for half a day or just quarter of an hour, every day for a week or one day in the month. Note: it completely rebooted, not just the DSL side. A second identical router did the same, but both worked fine when just used as a LAN switch (I ran pings all day through them with no dropouts). The same router stayed up 24/7 before, and does so now with a different provider.

    More pain. As part of the switch over my static IP changed. They did not tell me this would happen, so I was struggling to get connected. Their tech support guy told me I probably had a virus. Yes, a Netgear router with a virus. Given some of the forums (fora?) I visit daily I was pretty sure I would have heard of such a thing. He claimed it had been happening quite a lot recently, people did not realise that this was so common but he "had several customers with the same problem recently". Notice: HIS customers had this problem, and the fact that they got fixed proved he was right.

    His fix? Factory reset the router. I refused, because frankly I did not belive his diagnosis and did not want to reconfigure my wireless, MAC acces list. port forwarding etc. If any of my customers (I am a consultant) took his advice their networks would stop working - no SMTP forwarding, for example.

    My fix? Change config to DHCP, wait for an address then set this as static. Oddly enough that "virus" caused no further problems.

    Yet more pain. I had an accounts issue. I filled in the form on the website. I got an automated reply with a call ref and then an all-but-automated reply from a call centre monkey asking for further info (things like my address and phone number - how can they possibly not have this? do they think I moved my phone line to a new house without telling them?). Anyway, I reply. I get an automated response, followed by a different response from another monkey, this time saying that they needed me to confirm some pointless detail or other "for Data Protection". This loop went on for several days until I had about ten call references but still no answer. Of course, the phone lines did there usual thing of keeping me on hold until my ears began to bleed. After an hour each time I gave up.

    Just before leaving them recently, I checked on their website, and they do not even offer me 8Mbps. Their own site says the maximum I can possibly get would be 2Mbps. I asked them to tell me how this could possibly be the case, but so far have not had a reply. No change there.

    I feel better now, but still want to know why I was charged more (from them) for a an "upgrade" which gave worse service and no better speed, when they acknowledge it was impossible to deliver anything more than I already had. The bind moggles. Please Ofcom stop this rampant nonsense.

  41. David

    Marketing hype

    It`s just marketing hype, "Up to" sounds so much better than "Well.......this is a theoretical speed only if you live right next door to the telephone exchange. You`ll actually going to get a lot less than this". It`s rather like pricing something at £19.99. Soooo much better value than 20 quid, eh, right?

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: VM Tosh.....

    "I suspect [1] you were costing VM multiple times that amount in Broadband bandwidth costs before they started to 'traffic manage' your connection. Running a national network is very expensive in the UK, but a big user base (500K+) will generally have a low average utilization per user which is why, with very tight profit margins, that network doesn't cost much per line."

    Regardless off the economics of the UK ISP business the fact remains that, if you sell a service and recoup an advertised price you should expect to have to provide that service. This is the view a customer will nearly always take, VMs profit margin is not my concern.

    If I sell you 4 apples for £1, take your payment and then tell you "Actually I don’t have 4 apples as I have to save some for my other customers, you'll just have to make do with 2 apples" I'm guessing your response will be "OK, then I'll have half of my cash back" (if I'm lucky) or "shove it I'm never buying apples from you again. A crude analogy I know, but I feel it accurately makes my point.

  43. Mark

    Ofcom ride to the rescue?

    The ISPs will really be losing sleep over that...

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm paying to get 8Mbps. The actual consistent downstream bandwidth is around 250kbps. I'd change my ISP provider if I had any hope of increasing the bandwidth. But the copper line won't change. Any recommendations?

  45. Martin Saunders

    Re: VM Tosh....

    "If I sell you 4 apples for £1, take your payment and then tell you "Actually I don’t have 4 apples as I have to save some for my other customers, you'll just have to make do with 2 apples" I'm guessing your response will be "OK, then I'll have half of my cash back" (if I'm lucky) or "shove it I'm never buying apples from you again. A crude analogy I know, but I feel it accurately makes my point."

    I think your analogy is excellent, but for me it neatly highlights the issue at hand. When you buy Broadband you are effectively paying a price based on two main variables [1]; how fast, and how much. How fast used to heavily dictate the price, but now BT have changed their wholesale pricing model where the provider pays the same amount whatever the line speed, what is now more important is how much. The problem is most providers sell based on how fast, and so the main variable of cost at the back of the business case isn't cleanly linked to the price variable at the front. It's no surprise customers get confused.

    Using your analogy, the fruit seller is buying their apples by weight, but selling them by unit. It is in the fruit sellers interest to by lots of small apples to have the best chance of making a profits, but this upsets some customers who are used to grabbing the biggest apples first..

    ..OK now I've killed that analogy dead lets move on ;)

    [1] Time is also a variable, but not one many providers have picked up on so far, so it's assumed Broadband is still 'always on'

  46. Jim


    @Martin Saunders

    "How fast used to heavily dictate the price, but now BT have changed their wholesale pricing model where the provider pays the same amount whatever the line speed, what is now more important is how much."

    So shouldn't the ISPs respond by changing their pricing structure (and ads) so that it properly presents the product that they are selling?

    Whatever, this does not adequately address the issue of false advertising. A term often trotted out is the "reasonable expectation" of the consumer. It would appear that the unqualified use of terms such as "up to" and "unlimited" produces a "reasonable expectation" beyond that which the service provider is capable. This also applies to the infamous asterisk, which essentially indicates that the previous statement is "a lie".

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