Broadband speeds are not what they’re claimed to be?

Broadband speeds are not what they’re claimed to be

A new survey by Which? has found that more than half of internet users are getting broadband speeds that are up to 62% slower than their providers claim.

The Which? figures taken from more than 700,000 consumer speed checker tests and compared with information collected in 2016 by Ofcom, found that in in 52% of local authority areas, people are recording median speeds that are at least 10 per cent slower than the median speeds estimated by providers.

Moreover in 35% of areas speeds are up to 20% slower.

The list of regions with broadband slower than the recommended 10Mpbs includes Ryedale, Purbeck, West Devon and Powys. While, along with Tamworth, Reading, Luton and Enfield get some of the quickest speeds.

Which? MD of home services said that in some locations “there can be a big gap between what people may expect versus what they actually experience in their homes”.

He questioned whether customers were really getting the service they were paying for.

It is timely, then, that Ofcom has recently announced that customers are to be automatically compensated by providers for delays in fixing problems with landlines and broadband, including for slow repairs, missed appointments and delayed installations.

Under its new scheme, to be introduced in 2019, customers will automatically get £8 for every calendar day on which the service is not repaired, after two full working days. They will also get £25 for an engineer missing an appointment or cancelling with less than 24 hours’ notice, and £5 for each calendar day without service after the day they were promised a provider would start that service.

Although the compensation does not cover slow broadband speeds, the Ofcom ruling is a welcome step in getting providers to improve their services to customers.


Do you need faster broadband?

How crucial to your business is a faster download speed?

It may be in the interests of Internet service providers to increase their revenue by encouraging you to upgrade to a service that gives you faster connectivity and download speeds, but it is wise to do the research before committing.

Firstly, it’s about bandwidth, expressed as Megabits per second (Mbps).  The larger the bandwidth, the more and faster data can be moved.

Secondly, it is about the purposes for which you use the internet – whether it is downloading movies, using VOIP to make conference calls between different parts of your business and with customers, or simple email communication and internet browsing.  Does your business have to regularly upload large files?

For example, it can be a problem if VOIP calls are constantly breaking up or interrupted when the participants are in the midst of an important discussion or negotiation.

Having defined the purposes for which your business uses the internet the next step is to check on what bandwidth your internet service provider (ISP) is offering, in theory and in practice.

Why might you want to check your bandwidth?

It may be that you think, or suspect, that you are not getting the bandwidth you’re paying for, either on purpose or because something is wrong. Signs may be web pages taking a long time to load or the VOIP example mentioned earlier.

Perhaps, also, you want to check that the internet speed is adequate for a service you are considering buying.

While there are plenty of online free services to test your download speed, it is a good idea to use the test offered by your ISP.  You should do several tests over the course of a day and take screenshots of each, identified with date and time.

This will give you the evidence you need if the service you are paying for is not as good as you have been promised and you want to challenge your ISP.

However, there are other variables that it is worth bearing in mind that can affect internet speed. This is why ISPs always promise speeds of “up to” stated Mbps. The service is being shared with other households and businesses in the neighbourhood and the factors that will affect it include how may users are online at a given time and, within a company where there will be multiple users, how many people are using the system, and for what operations, at the same time.

Only once a business has gathered all the information, defined its internet needs and done the checks will it be in a position to decide whether paying for faster speeds is going to be viable and necessary.