back to article ASA tuts at TalkTalk over broadband speed estimator

TalkTalk got rapped on the knuckles by the Advertising Standards Authority today after it upheld a complaint that its broadband speed checker was rather overestimating the actual speed of web surfing. A customer had complained that when he typed his postcode into the box, he was told his estimated speed was 3.8Mbps with a …


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  1. HP Cynic

    I've always felt their estimator was inaccurate but it's also insulting as no matter what speed it displays I get the message "Congrats your internet is as fast as it can possibly be!"

    Also TalkTalk seem to have abandoned Customer Service in favour of simply asking you to run this very speed test several times...

    I very much regret a year's phone service in advance :(

  2. HamsterNet

    Whats the Point

    Seriously what is the point of the ASA? Do they not see what we see? Do they not realise their JOB is to stop companies BS'ing us continuously? Apparently not.

    Sent from my Unlimited (but with a cap!) Broadband (but below the standard of broadband!) upto 22Mbps (but actually closer to 1Mbps!) internet connect...

  3. ballist1x

    If its wrong most of the time...

    "The ASA however, couldn't help but notice that the link was not prominent enough to make it obvious that speeds would vary a lot and most of the time the speeds were turning out to be lower than the estimate."

    If its wrong MOST of the time why not fix the calculation so that it is correct most of the time? This simple fix would benefit customers and lessen the nead for big style asterisks eveywhere* stating that this is likely to be very inaccurate...

    Even a broken clock is wrong up to twice a day. Does this mean that i can sell a broken clock as working, subject to the output being innaccurate most of the time..? According to ASA logic YES.

    But then i raised points to the ASA regarding Virgin and their 'unlimited' internets. Whch is infact limited. and even though the ASA agree that Virgin do use the word Unlimited, they disagree with me on the definition of the word Unlimited, which i took to mean, 'Without limits'...

    1. Crisp

      Re: If its wrong most of the time...

      I don't understand how they can get it wrong.

      They know where you are, they know where the exchange is and they know what the transport medium will be. Shouldn't it just be simple maths?

      1. Oliver Mayes

        Re: If its wrong most of the time...

        Marketing overrides maths.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: Shouldn't it just be simple maths?

        RFs is black-box voodoo magic. It's never simple maths. I'm normally the fly on the wall, but I remember a company having to hire an RF witch-doctor to get one of our boxes approved for FCC Section 15 code many, many moons ago. Recommendation was to add curly metal things to the internals of the box, then it worked. All the staff engineers were amazed it worked after that.

      3. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: If its wrong most of the time...

        It is trivial to calculate the distance between an exchange and a subscribers premises, but it is almost impossible to determine the length of cable used to connect them, the quality of the copper in that cable, the amount of environmental crosstalk in the cable, the quality of wiring in the subscribers premises, and all the other factors involved in determining your synch speed.

        So, given a location, all an ISP can do is calculate a 'best case' and a 'worst case' bounds for your line. Obviously, marketing would prefer that the worst case is as understated as possible, so there will be outliers that have worse conditions even than the 'worst case'.

        As an example of this, around Albert Dock in docklands there are some very curious routing of cables. Some locations in that area are extremely close to the exchange, but have 2+ miles of cabling, due to the strange way that the cables are routed around the docks.

        Another example is my old man, who lives in the wilds of East Anglia. His line, if you check, says he should get 1MB, just about, because of distance from the exchange. He actually gets 3MB, because the line from the exchange is new, high quality, goes in pretty much a straight line across 7km of fields, and he has excellent in house wiring, including a fitted ADSL filter on the master socket.

        With ADSL, you get the physical maximum synch that your line can handle. Switching ADSL ISPs searching for synch speed is inane, the ISPs and BT cannot change the laws of physics. Instead, you should either move, or see if you can improve the situation by improving your internal wiring, or STFU.

        1. Crisp

          @Tom 38, Re: If its wrong most of the time...

          Thanks for the explanation. That makes a lot of sense.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wifi vs Ethernet

    How many numpties test their speed through wifi rather than ethernet then moan they are not get correct speeds ?

    All you speed testers out there, plug it in to the bloody ethernet socket on your router then test the speed.

    1. Law

      Re: Wifi vs Ethernet

      <-------------------------- Do not feed

    2. Rab Sssss
      Thumb Up

      Re: Wifi vs Ethernet

      The answer is fucking lots...

    3. Qdos

      Re: Wifi vs Ethernet

      If your network (including WiFi) performs optimally it makes no faffin' difference...

      Stuck in the dark ages behind numerous cob walls on 802.11b/g, and you've had it, but surely that hardly needs pointing out?!??!

      I get precisely the same results testing on Cat6 ethernet as on my 802.11n dual band WiFi signal, just as long as the signal strength is good and the inbound connection is below the actual WiFi transmission threshold of course...

      Sheesh... but if you've got a TalkTalk router, it's prolly' not a brilliant idea...

  5. Chris Miller

    I moved from BT to TalkTalk Business yesterday (ADSL2+)

    Before 8+1Mb. Estimate 17.6Mb. Actual 18Mb+1Mb (raw data rate), tested throughput 15Mb.

    Seems OK to me (and £5 a month cheaper, too). Thanks LLU.

    1. Jess--

      Re: I moved from BT to TalkTalk Business yesterday (ADSL2+)

      so you have yet to experience the network bogging down...

      or the random (every 4 minutes) loss of sync (that usually take 3 minutes to reconnect)

      or the massive udp packet loss (inbound and outbound)

      strangely these only occur over the weekends

      before anyone blames torrents etc the connection in question is used purely for cctv cameras (i.e. the camera box is the only thing connected)

      from around 7PM on a friday until 8AM on a monday the trying to use the box remotely is a nightmare

      the video stream may work fine, may pick up 30+ seconds of latency or may just disconnect,

      if you tell a camera to move it may move the 5 degrees you wanted, it may not move at all or it might just perform 5 full revolutions because it got the command to start moving but never got the one telling it to stop

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: I moved from BT to TalkTalk Business yesterday (ADSL2+)

        Sorry to hear that, Jess. I ought to explain that it was just the local loop that was being moved from BT - TalkTalk have been my ISP for some while (Nildram/Pipex/Tiscali/Opal/TalkTalk), and I haven't experienced the problems you have <touch wood>.

      2. Rab Sssss

        Re: I moved from BT to TalkTalk Business yesterday (ADSL2+)

        Loss of sync is not likely going to be network congestion related though.

  6. Tom 13

    Given the articles I see here about the ASA

    Me thinks you'd all be better off if it were just abolished and you got to keep the penny/year in cost savings instead.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Now how much of that bandwidth is going to China.

    So than can check that every page you view is malware free.

    For your protection of course.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ATT has a tool that will measure the distance of you copper by sending a signal through the wires. So they know if it's even worth sending a person out. But this tool is used internally DSL reports had access to this tool till ATT told to stop.

  9. Aulty

    talktalk estimate of 40/80Mb service

    In our area BT Openreach are upgrading to FTTC, you can see the chunkier street cabinets dotted around.

    Did a speed check on talktalk, they said we could get 40 and 63Mb.

    Tried the checker using a new postcode we will be moving to, and it said 40/79Mb.

    I don't beleive that for one minute, but if so, jesus that'll be pretty quick. Maybe my missis will shut up about facebook gaming speed.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Are they STILL in business?


  11. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Estimates can be low too

    TT's estimator says I should get about 7Mb/s

    I was getting 11MB/s for years until some line work recently knocked ~1500 feet out of the circuit length (the line went bad due to wet joints and I started getting hum/clicks and shitty DSL performance)

    Now it's a shade under 18Mb/s.

    Their estimator STILL says I should get about 7Mb/s

    But noone takes cases like that to the ASA.

    (I can't really believe I'm defending TT, but as others have noted, they pile 'em high and sell 'em cheap. Service is OK until it breaks and the hard part is getting past the Script Reading Ratberts(*) on first/second line helldesks. Once onto real techs things usually get solved quickly)

    (*) -

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