back to article OK... Red wire or black... *Clickety* You've emailed the schematic? Yes, got it! It's opening. And... WHAT? NO!

Perennial complaints about crap internet connectivity feel like the digital equivalent of people grumbling about potholes. So it's no surprise that six in 10 of us have moaned to Which? of problems in the last year. In a survey of just over 2,000 by the consumer action group, nine in 10 to have experienced problems said they …

  1. JimC

    > There is nothing more annoying than your internet cutting out​ when you're streaming your favourite

    > programme​, ​or ​when you’ve spent ages filling your online ​shopping​ basket but your connection is too

    > slow to get you to the checkout

    Well,I'd say there are a lot of things more annoying than that, starting with power cuts or people crashing into your car/bike, or even major health problems, but who minds a bit of ridiculous hyperbole eh?

    > Ofcom has introduced new rules to allow consumers to more easily switch provider

    > if they have failed to provide an acceptable level of service.

    Wonderful. How on earth did we get this idea that supplier churn is an efficient way to do anything? Because its really going to help to deliver a better service to your existing customers if the technical staff are spending all their time connecting new customers and disconnecting old ones... How about a regulation that if there's any break in service during a month the supplier has to refund say a week's charge. Two breaks, two weeks and so on...

    1. vilemeister

      To be honest, those problems are just annoying.

      I wouldn't class health emergencies or lack of energy 'annoying', I'd call them dangerous.

      My old business had issues with broadband a few times a month. Which wouldn't usually be an issue, but there was no phone service either, in a large village just outside a large town. If my broadband goes down at home, I wouldn't usually mind, except my phone is through it because I have no mobile the middle of a large city.

  2. Whitter

    New supplier?

    With a high probability of all the old problems, if not worse, and a long minimum contract length to boot. Much like the rail system where "use another train line" isn't an effective an solution to poor service, a system of rebates for contractually poor service needs to be established.

    And that needs some level of agreement as to what minimum* standards are for all those fictional "up to services" that everyone is on.

    *a.k.a. "actual"

  3. Pompous Git Silver badge


    "There is nothing more annoying than your internet cutting out​ when "
    No, there are far more annoying things than that. Like the shopping website that won't allow you to purchase/access the product you know they have (Coles Supermarket here in Oz), ABC iView that fails to find the show to stream that they have just been crowing about being available on iView... And so on...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is considered an acceptable bandwidth ?

    I have a 1.7 Mbps download, 0.4 Mbps upload connection.

    The cheapest my service provider offers.

    I can download a film 10x faster than it takes to watch it.

    Why is that not adequate for anyone's normal requirements ?

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: What is considered an acceptable bandwidth ?

      "I have a 1.7 Mbps download, 0.4 Mbps upload connection."
      I nominally have 10 Mb/s DL and 1 Mb/s upload. My problems start when I have 0 bps for both.

    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Why is that not adequate

      Why is that not adequate for anyone's normal requirements ?

      I too have the cheapest i could find - I get about 6mbts from EE for £20pm INCLUDING line rental

      Never had a problem.

      The problem , to paraphrase Satre, is other people.

      I go to my girlfriends and just one kid can use up all the bandwidth by watching shit on youtube, and snatchapping or wtf they do.

      Another thing is , people dont measure their broadband at the point of delivery - ie the master phone socket - they measure it from an ipad in the garden miles from the crappy wifi AP they have.

      1. John Sager

        Re: Why is that not adequate

        A lot of the issues are to to with totally shit wifi routers that can't do QoS for toffee. However, it's not exactly easy. I had this problem with my own home-brew router - a satnav update I started totally clobbered my daughter's Netflix session. I spent a *lot* of time analysing that & coming up with a working solution using combinations of iptables rules to mark traffic and qdiscs to filter & queue traffic appropriately. I think recent versions of OpenWrt have something similar, and eventually the Cake qdisc should make this a no-brainer.

    3. ChrisC

      Re: What is considered an acceptable bandwidth ?

      "I can download a film 10x faster than it takes to watch it."

      You might be happy watching stuff with an average encoded bitrate of 170Kbps, but some of us have slightly higher standards than that ;-)

      In all seriousness though, who defines what "normal" requirements are? One person might only ever use t'internet for the occasional email or spot of online shopping, whereas another person might live their entire life online, taking full advantage of all the services available (streaming media, VOIP telephony/video calling, cloud storage/applications etc. etc). Both sets of user requirements may well be entirely "normal" from the perspective of anyone else who has a similar lifestyle to the users in question, but would seem completely abnormal to pretty much anyone else.

      Full disclosure time: I've always been of the opinion that there's no such thing as a "fast enough" internet connection (*) - I switched from V.90 dialup to ADSL pretty much as soon as it became commercially available in the UK (and if it hadn't launched when it did, I was seriously considering getting a bonded ISDN connection instead), then switched to VM cable getting on for 12 years ago after moving house. My home connection is currently a VM 200Mb/12Mb link, and I'm awaiting further news of their 300Mbps rollout plans with eager anticipation... So from your perspective, I definitely don't have normal requirements, but from my perspective (and from that of many other people who live in highly-connected multi-user households and/or have jobs/hobbies which are made easier with a decent network connection) they seem quite normal.

      (*) although if I could get a symmetric gigabit link to the outside world, I might concede that this would probably be good enough, for now at least...

      1. Rakkor

        Re: What is considered an acceptable bandwidth ?

        "(*) although if I could get a symmetric gigabit link to the outside world, I might concede that this would probably be good enough, for now at least..."

        B4RN - Move to Rural Lancs/ Cumbria, Symmetric Gigabit for 30 quid a month

    4. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: What is considered an acceptable bandwidth ?

      " I have a 1.7 Mbps download, 0.4 Mbps upload connection.

      I can download a film 10x faster than it takes to watch it"

      Sorry, but that seems wrong to me. IMHO one needs a solid 2Mbps to watch HD without buffering. Not sure what you're watching at 170Kbps but I wouldn't consider it enough for anything except CCTV, and probably not even that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What is considered an acceptable bandwidth ?

        "Sorry, but that seems wrong to me. IMHO one needs a solid 2Mbps to watch HD without buffering."

        May I suggest a minor comprehension fail? :D

        User said Download, you factor for Streaming. Not the same thing.

        1. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re: What is considered an acceptable bandwidth ?

          There has been a comprehension fail, I agree. User quite clearly said he could download (at 1.7Mbps) a film ten times faster than he could watch it. He either likes lo-res or slo-mo. Or maybe compression artefacts? :-)

    5. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: What is considered an acceptable bandwidth ?

      "Why is that not adequate for anyone's normal requirements ?"


      b) ridiculously large javascript libraries on CDN servers that update too frequently

      c) outrageous use of javascript on web pages

      d) insane bandwidth requirement of embedded ad videos and animated graphics

      e) 'intro flash' on top level web pages (required to view it in order to dig further on the site)

      f) poorly designed style sheets that require excessively long CSS

      g) use of lousy authoring tools that generate WAY too many HTML tags for formatting

      h) frequent refreshing for no good reason [other than to cycle ads, right?]

      i) on-line editing of documents via javascript. What MENSA CANDIDATE thought THAT one up, huh?

      Yes I blame the CONTENT MAKERS and _NOT_ the ISPs so much. If they'd JUST assume that YOUR connection is a "minimal acceptable performance" connection, TO WHICH they target their site's bandwidth requirement so that it has acceptable performance on YOUR machine over YOUR connection then MAYBE this wouldn't be a problem.

      But they don't. They assume "infinite bandwidth" and "of COURSE you'll download all of this shi supporting content and advertising just to view our web site!" even if 'relevant content' is less than ONE TENTH of the bandwidth!

      (and that goes double for phones entering restricted bandwidth mode because, overage, because, all that "supporting content")

    6. Spoonguard

      Re: What is considered an acceptable bandwidth ?

      The internet isn't just about pirating downsampled DVDs

  5. Kevin Johnston Silver badge


    How many of the Buffering and similar problems are down to this belief that everyone should have Wifi switched on at home to connect their tablets/phones/kettle? When I recently setup the router for our new provider my chosen SSID was swamped by 18 other SSIDs all with 3-4 bars of signal. Since that is more than the number of available channels then I just knew I was going to get continual grief from the wife/kids that 'the internet has broken'

    BT are now upping the challenge with higher powered routers giving 200 metres of range meaning I get interference from 6 streets away and not just 2. How about enforcing minimal power so the router has a range of 20 metres, just how big is your house anyway?

    1. Sam Jelfs

      Re: Wi-Fi

      I have 2 APs in the house, or rather one in the house that is also the modem / TV box, and one in the garage. Yet I still have to run a fixed cable to my OHs office on the 2nd floor because the signal is so poor through the precast concrete building. I can't get mobile phone signal in the house, I have to go outside if I want a reliable voice call...

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Wi-Fi

      True that. I had a friend with no WiFi, so I did a frequency analysis of WiFi in the area. A neighbour was blasting out on every channel over 2.4GHz, and it must have been genuine WiFi as there was a proper structure to the signal. I set her up with a network of 5GHz access points, which took a few due to the crap range.

      At home, I get 26 competing signals in the 2.4GHz band, and 6 in the 5GHz, but I've invested in a proper business class access point and firewall/VPN, and it seems to work just fine. I've got line speed to all my handhelds, 75Mbps, and it only starts dropping off in the toilet which is the room with the most walls between me and the AP.

      I wonder if the neighbours have good WiFi? Or have I wiped them out?

    3. Ragarath

      Re: Wi-Fi

      200M range so you can get everyone complaining that their small device can see the network but it's slow because out at that 200M (usually even closer) through walls interference their device with it's tiny antenna and battery cannot talk back.

    4. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Wi-Fi

      Opposite issue here

      A range of 20 m, becomes a range of very little at all if you have an old house that actually has some thick internal walls instead of a modern build house with more plasterboard than wall.

      No (not tried silly money kit though) router I have tried can manage to get signal through the thick stone walls separating room with router in to the adjoining room.

      The walls also cut out intruding wifi signals, which is the only plus point

      So we had to use a "line of sight" (opposite door so some signal got through) set up to use a wireless repeater only a few m away from router & repeater could get signal through to the blackspot room (via door of that room).

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: Wi-Fi

        A range of 20 m, becomes a range of very little at all if you have an old house that actually has some thick internal walls instead of a modern build house with more plasterboard than wall.

        I'll second that. While I have no real need for a wifi connection Mrs Commswonk does* and we have found that it will work well in the next room (one single brick wall), adequately in the room across the hallway (two single brick walls) but not at all in the kitchen or anywhere beyond (three single brick walls). I am opposed to PLT because of the HF radio noise that it generates so I have avoiding going down that route. I even splashed out on a BT wifi extender but have been unable to find anywhere to plug it in part way along any of the possible "routes" between router and target areas, so that scheme was a waste of money - albeit not that much.

        And that house isn't "old"; it was built in the mid to late 1960s.

        * If buggering about with an iPad counts as "necessary".

      2. Pedigree-Pete
        Thumb Up

        Re: Wi-Fi

        Try Ethernet over power plugs, some are even WAPs. That'll use your house electrical wiring to get the main WAP signals through the walls. :)PP

        1. Ragarath

          Re: Wi-Fi

          But he said he does not want PLT (Power Line Transmission AKA EoP) so that's out of the question.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Virgin Media

    Virgin Media can not even run a cable connected TIVO service without there being buffering between menu selection. It can take half a minute from selecting a menu to it appearing, between pressing play and it starting, and even to return to the menu when stopped is pressed.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Virgin Media

      Have you tried

      Help & Settings --> Clear Or Reset Tivo Box ---> Clear Thumb Ratings and Suggestions.

      That can help, depending on the root cause.

      If you don't have dozens of series links and lots of recording still to watch, a complete box reset can also work wonders. As a last resort, I think there's a three finger shuffle you can do at switch on to reformat the HDD

  7. TRT Silver badge

    I find that...

    most of my work desktop connectivity issues are 14 second outages caused by ISE. And some weird DNS issue that kicks in a few times each day. Along with some sort of throttling on the firewall I suspect. Very annoying actually, and it must surely be 100% down to the new network design here. It's only the last 6 months it's been so bad, which coincides with when they started arseing around with the wired network and merging it with the wireless address space.

    It's sometimes faster to work from home where my download speed is now approaching that I get from being on JANET.

  8. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    I speak fluent "user" , let me translate.

    Survey: Have you had a problem with your internet connectivity in the last year?

    user1 : Yes , a few months ago i couldnt do my online shopping . my card had expired

    user2: Yes , when im in the potting shed , there are no bars on my iPad

    user3: Yes , when my kids friends are in , only 5 can watch HD utube at the same time

    user4: Yes, when i got to site x, y , or z it says i need flah player

    user5: Yes , last week i turned the laptop on and it said "startup repair"

    user6: Yes, i tried "go compare" and now i get spam

    user7: Yes, when i go online "bonzibuddy" appears on my screen

    user8: yes , i keep getting emails from people i dont know

    user8: yes, netflix dosent have series 1 of Gavin & stacey

    ad infinitum....

  9. Mage Silver badge


    How many are using Mobile data mis-sold as broadband. An "up to" 100Mbps mobile package is often rubbish compared to 2Mbps on DSL.

    I'd love 100Mbps plus, but (a) I can't afford it, crazy it's x3 more expensive than Mobile Data*, and (b)I'd have to move to town, though I'm in a large village (1200+) only 5km from the edge of cable/fibre areas.

    [*Mobile data is often sold below cost as it's subsidised by voice, or in the case of Three Ireland, by Hong Kong parent as they historically never made profit. Also mobile has a much lower cap, which should be even lower to reduce usage and thus increase speed. If people using it instead of broadband could get affordable broadband, then mobile would be maybe twice as good.]

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: Broadband?

      "I'd love 100Mbps plus, but (a) I can't afford it, crazy it's x3 more expensive than Mobile Data*,"

      I have actually reached 100Mbps with my 4G connection (marketed as up to 100M), and it only costs €24,90 /month. It beats my old ~10M/1M DSL hands down.

      There is no data cap, no bundled voice or devices, and I can terminate the contract anytime.

      Welcome to Finland. :-)


      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Finland

        Finland Finland. The country where I'd quite like to be.

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Re: Finland

          Your mountains so lofty

          Your treetops so tall

          Finland , Finland , Finland

          Finland has it all

          BTW, internet & mobile connectivity in Norway isn't shabby either.

  10. Gartal

    Nothing more annoying.....

    I think that having $6,500.00 worth of tools knocked off from my van last Sunday night was a tad more annoying. Similarly I found some years ago that breaking my leg in seven places and requiring skin, bone and muscle grafts, not to mention MRSA Septicaemia a triffle more annoying than a video having to buffer. Not to put too fine a point on it, my father dying earlier this year and my wife of 38 years buggering on last month overshadows internet connectivity issues fairly substantially..... I might go so far as to say that all of the above trump it.

  11. Anguilla

    Can't find "a" mode on modern Laptops

    The LAST time I had access to "a" [5GHz] Wi-Fi connected computer was way back in the days of IBM T60 model.

    I - long ago - bought a "Groupon" offer of a Belkin a/b/g router - but almost as loooong ago I sold my last IBM T60P - and since that time - I have had many Lenovo's offerings, but NOT ONE of them had the option of hopping on board of 5GHz.

    I have yet to find any of the models that offered 2.4 *&* 5 GHz connections.

    Come to that, none of the other manufacturers have had 5GHz on then - or even as an optional "extra".

    For a few months I blasted my apartment blocks with signals on almost all of the 1-13 channels, I finally desisted when I reckoned I was just wasting my electricity & my family didn't really need such a plethora of channels to select between.

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: Can't find "a" mode on modern Laptops

      I think you're not looking hard enough. There are plenty of 5GHz products, it's usually just the cheap consumer market laptops that only have 2.4GHz. I'm not aware of a single laptop that supports *only* 5GHz.

      You should check the business class products of at least Lenovo/Dell/HP. Most products can be ordered with 5GHz.

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