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Broadband: Still not getting the speed you need?

Rory Cellan-Jones | 15:17 UK time, Thursday, 4 March 2010

What do we know about the broadband speeds actually being delivered to British homes? It's a hot topic again today as we hear that lack of broadband and mobile coverage is one of the main reasons young people cite for wanting to leave the countryside.

Getting hold of accurate unbiased research on the speed issue is a struggle - but the SamKnows organisation reckons it's better placed than most to do the job. It has embarked on a major project, backed by the telecoms regulator Ofcom, to install speed-testing equipment in thousands of homes across Britain. So far around 1700 homes have been recruited, and SamKnows wants to get as many as five thousand on board - you can sign up here.

I've been given some early results from the research and the picture they paint is not greatly encouraging. People with broadband coming down a copper telephone line on "up to 8Mbps" packages were getting an average speed of 4.14Mbps, though at peak times in the evening that fell to 3.53Mbps. Those on up to 20Mbps deals were getting an average of 10.62Mbps on an ADSL line, but 15.19Mbps on cable.

Table showing people's broadband speeds

It looks as though copper lines just aren't delivering super-fast broadband, and cable and fibre will be the technology that does the job - although of course BT and Virgin Media are making it clear they won't take fast networks deep into the country any time soon.

I then asked SamKnow to look at the current divide between town and country. Here they only had figures for up to 8mbps services, and the results showed that country dwellers were getting an average speed of 3.61Mbps, about half a meg slower than urban households.

So what does that tell us? Well it still looks as though most of us are only getting around half the speed we think we're paying for. What's more, Alex Salter of SamKnows warns that when we sign up to faster packages we may be disappointed:

"There is a substantial 'reality gap' between what consumers are sold, and what they end up actually getting. Home users sign a 12 or 24 month broadband contract expecting that they will be able to watch internet television in real time, but in fact often experience jerky images, video pauses, and a totally unwatchable experience. This is especially true at weekends and in peak times, which is exactly when consumers want their broadband to be as fast as possible."

The message seems to be that the real problem isn't so much a digital divide between town and country as a general struggle across the UK to get the speeds we need.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I have 50Mb Virgin Cable Broadband at home and it does download at almost the claimed speed most of the time,but at work the Bt Business 20Mbs speed has never run at more than 6Mbs and we are not far from the exchange.it seems to me that you should pay at the level of service provided if the average speed could be monitored,then it would really make the ISP help to increase the services as it would have a direct financial benefit to them.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hello Ruskin 147
    At last someone in the mainstream media, who is showing some concern over the Broadband issue in rural areas. [Incidentally, the Samknows link is not happening]

    Here in rural Wales we suffer a service capped at 1.2Mbps and when you consider the normal contention on the line along with 'noise on the very, very old infrastructure' this service can plummet to 120kbps. or even less.

    It has been useful to use Twitter to call on @BTCare to come to our assistance from time to time to re-set the profile on the line when it plummets, but this can take days to take effect. Meanwhile my partner and I attempt to run our small businesses from our rural location.

    We appreciate that it is all down to the age and condition of the line which runs from the local exchange to our property however we have argued with BT that we should NOT be expected to pay the same price as those people in urban areas who get a far superior service.

    We are currently looking at the offer of a pro-rata cost offered by Virgin.

  • Comment number 3.

    Good article, I have always used the Sam Knows site since it started for any information about Broadband in the UK. It's about time that we had something done about the miss-selling of broadband speeds.

    BTW, the link on the web page is broken and is not pointing to the right location on the Sam Knows site.

  • Comment number 4.

    It looks as though copper lines just aren't delivering super-fast broadband, and cable and fibre will be the technology that does the job

    Um; no it looks nothing like that, in fact, it looks like the exact opposite of that. The fact that the speed falls "at peak times in the evening" tells you that the local loop out to the customer is not the bottleneck, the ISPs' internal networks are. If the performance of the copper to people's homes was the limiting factor you'd expect constant speed because the performance of a given piece of copper wire isn't going to be affected by someone else watching the iPlayer on another piece of copper. Of course, we already knew that; it's why bad ISPs like BT have been bleating about the load iPlayer (et al) put on their internal networks.

    At this point fibre connections to the home won't help - if your ISP can only deliver data to your connection at 3.5Mbps and is wasting the remaining capacity of your existing copper link, an 'upgrade' to fibre simply means that you'll still get 3.5Mbps, but you'll be wasting a greater fraction of your individual link.

  • Comment number 5.

    You say "country dwellers were getting an average speed of 3.61Mbps" - well this one (just 5 miles from BT Labs at Martlesham) gets a max of just 500kbps on a good day.

  • Comment number 6.

    @_Ewan_
    I agree that the problem is with the ISP, not the copper. Fibre would be much faster but the ISPs internals would still be the limiting factor. My phone company (Kingston Comms, no choice sadly) charges me more for broadband than for telephone services. Their phone system is fine but their ISP services are poor, slow, expensive and unreliable. Their DNS is a joke, I bypass their proxy - they use that as another throttle mechanism, download speeds vary wildly from 4Mbps down to 1.3Mbps at a weekend or evening. Increasingly important upload speeds are 400k. When things get too much for them, they just drop the connection. I have no choice, we do not have a BT line, only a KC line and no one else will use their exchanges so no competition. KC just make hay.

    I say take the local loop (copper or fibre) into a national company, like the gas network.

  • Comment number 7.

    At my mothers house in the middle of field in Wiltshire miles from anywhere 6Mbs.
    At my house in London near Canary Wharf max I get is 2Mbs and max says it can get is 3Mbs.
    Can't even watch iPlayerHD in the middle of the Big Smoke...
    Digital divide is the wrong way round.

  • Comment number 8.

    DSL is a bit rubbish and nobody gets the headline speeds because speed over copper degrades with distance from the exchange. I think everyone reading this blog already knows that.

  • Comment number 9.

    Re #4 - Surely the change in speeds through the day IS related to the contention ratios iSP choose in the local loop (or we are willing to pay for on £7.99 deals) rather than overall performance of their networks.

    Interestingly, I've done quite a bit of setting up of ADSL in semi-rural (villages around towns with a local exchange in a shed) situations and all the "upto 8Mb" connections have been very nearly that. Again, I suspect this is contention ratios and shortish cable runs, with few enough connections to an iSP in a particular rural area to keep speeds up. How this changes as you move to very rural areas with long cable runs I don't know.

  • Comment number 10.

    I get just 2.4Mbps on a 20Mbps line... thats in rural Lincolnshire. I live on a relatively new housing estate in a medium sized village - I can't believe that ISPs are allowed to sell these packages as 20Mbps in areas where they simply do not apply...

  • Comment number 11.

    I have up to 8mb but have no chance of reaching much beyond 2mb at present. I see someone nearby has the 20mb package and gets just over 3mb! Is it worth it? We're both being over sold. I'm currently more concerned with my ISP's new Useage Tool, eg. 1.4Gb of usage in one day.. when we're out of the house most of the day, and only do the usual stuff which came in well under 8GB a month with our previous ISP.

  • Comment number 12.

    As Ewan and others have said, the problem in many cases is the ISPs, which simply can't cope with the huge demand for the BBC iPlayer and other bandwidth-bandits. We've been happy with our 8Mbps ADSL service from Virgin Media for many years ... until last month. Download speeds at weekends and in the evening suddenly slowed catastrophically, and are now under 500kbps. It took three calls to Virgin before they admitted to me last night that this year they dramatically underestimated the resources needed to cope. They said they were taking urgent action and promised that we'd see an improvement in the next couple of weeks. Rory, you might like to pursue this with Virgin.

    I've actually got some sympathy for Virgin. They previously improved the service without charging more, and we enjoyed the benefit for several years. And as consumers we're using far more bandwidth than before, thanks to the BBC's brilliant iPlayer. (I've stopped recording programmes - I just download them now.) I'm happy to pay a little more if it means we get a decent service that can cope with the ever increasing demands we place on it. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for!

  • Comment number 13.

    I live in a small rural village, [Personal details removed by Moderator], which is six miles away from its nearest phone exchange. This means we have at best a poor broadband service from BT (well under under 2mbps), and many locations in the village are shut out from broadband. This limits the ability of new businesses to work out of the village. It's ironic that the BBC's Today programme can be broadcast from the village hall, and that we win a laptop from BT to promote internet use through the village web site [Personal details removed by Moderator], but we're still deprived of decent access to mainstream communication resources.

    So why don't BT do something about it. Well they do (we suspect). There are small improvements from time to time but you only find out if you monitor your line speed. So we don't know what they are doing now and more importantly what they are doing for us in the future. BT have hidden themselves behind an impenetrable curtain of foreign call centres. Where are their managers who control strategy and presumably make decisions about resource allocation to be found? No point in using the telephone directories. BT appear not to exist - no offices, no people - just call centres in who knows what location. If it weren't for indiscreet BT engineers (for whom, hurrah!), we might even suspect that the management of BT had been outsourced.

    C'mon BT managers - make yourself visible and accessible to the local people who pay your wages. We really would like to love you again, like we love the Beeb, the National Trust and the monarchy. We know that these fly-by-night internet companies have taken much of your business, but you are better than them and should be worthy of our trust.

  • Comment number 14.

    The reason I only get 7Mbps for a 24Mbps product is because the 1200m of copper cable to the exchange is a wet piece of string. I should get about 20Mbps for this distance. This isn't the fault of the ISP since they can only use what BT give them.

    Perhaps a solution would be for BT to only be able to charge the ISP in proportion to the achieved bandwidth. Then the cost reduction could be passed on to the broadband customer without hurting the ISP and at the same time giving BT a financial incentive to replace rotten cable.

  • Comment number 15.

    In my house, near Glasgow, I get a constant 2Mbps no matter what. Everything downloads at this speed, no matter where from. The reason? We paid for decent broadband and yes occasionally we did get some pretty fast download speeds but most of the time it was only about 2~2.5Mbps anyway, so we cut the bill in half and tbh its good enough for us. Both myself and my brother play games online at the same time through Steam (mostly CS:S and Team Fortress 2) and rarely experience lag if we pick a good server. Yes, it is a bit slow for downloading games through Steam at times, but not that bad. With a constant service there is no disappointment with the service. So my advice is, if your ISP doesn't deliver on speed promises, downgrade your service to a speed that you get most of the time and hit them where it hurts. When everyone pays for the speed that they get then the motivation to up speeds drastically will be there.

  • Comment number 16.

    I checked with all the ISP's in my local area (chesterfield) they basically told me that no matter which one i go with the local exchange will not be able to handle anything above 2.5 meg.

    I have to pay the top tier not for the speed but for the actual unlimited downloads.not only do i have my own computer, laptop , my parents laptops a wii an xbox360 multiple ds's and all requiring speed from the internet.

    Non of the ISP's are willing to take ownership of the problem but are happy to take our money each month. I don think we have a choice the government are not planning on doing anything till 2017.

  • Comment number 17.

    I understand peoples frustrations about speed, however I still remember the days when using a 56k modem, and waiting for half a day for the BBC web page to load (still miss those funny noises!) Peoples obsession with speed are usually fuelled by the "downloaders" of this world who are usually up to no good, myself I am happy with what talktalk provide, am now off to download some .wav files of an old modem!

  • Comment number 18.

    All this points to is the charging model is wrong and services like the iPlayer are exploiting this. I am in city centre where for 8M max (it is not that anyway) I can have 6M at three in the morning and 3M at most other times. This does dilver the iPlayer at standard quality at most times. BT says they will deliver 9M (on a 20M link) this month so I expect 8 at 3am and 4 at other times. Whether I will be able to watch HD at 3am now I don't know. But the BBC can tell us who can do that.... and therefore what is the point of the service (it's not in beta!)

    What are the odds on the level of service for Virgin's 50M offering?

  • Comment number 19.

    I pay £35 a month for a Virgin account that gets me tons of TV channels, a fixed phone line with free weekend calls (inc. line rental) and 20Mbps cable broadband that is consistently around the 20Mbps advertised speed.

    I live on the Wirral, and I still remember about 10 years ago the chaos when all the roads were dug up by NTL to lay their fibre optic network which Virgin now operate. It seems now we are reaping the benefits of this overhaul as I very rarely get speeds below 18Mbps.

  • Comment number 20.

    I live in Sussex relatively rural. I have just signed up for PlusNet Premium 20MB broadband at £15 per month. After the service started this Monday I get not the 20MB as advertised....but 0.5mb! Should I cancel and go with another provider or will they all be the same?

  • Comment number 21.

    My exchange here in Manchester has recently been upgraded to ADSL2+ and with BT i now get on average download speeds of 12Mpbs.

  • Comment number 22.

    While there is definitely a problem caused by the use of copper pairs for carrying ADSL broadband signals for long distances, a bigger problem still is that changes in performance are effectively ignored by BT.

    In February 2009 I started to have problems with my broadband, resulting in my sync speed to the exchange dropping from approximately 5.5 megabits/second to around 2 megabits/second, so a reduction of more than 60%. This makes a huge difference to the usability of the connection when all the people in the house are watching streaming media.

    The fault started during the ice and snow that appeared in early February last year, before that I had a stable connection since Max ADSL was enabled in March 2006. I suspect it is due to damage from water ingress and then that water freezing and damaging the cables.

    Worse still, recently a single re-sync has caused the target signal to noise ratio to be increased, so the speed has dropped again to less than 2 megabits/second and despite having a stable connection for well over 2 weeks the BT line monitoring software has not reverted this change.

    I tried to get my ISP to put in a fault report to BT, but apparently they will not do so until the speed falls below 1.8 megabits/second.

    I also noticed that Openreach vans have been working near my village on cables that connect to the next housing area further from the exchange. It seems that this is because the cables were cut and stolen from the ducts and so are being replaced. I'm now almost hoping that the cables supplying our village disappear in the same way, then they will be replaced by new cables that will work properly.

    The solution to all this is fibre everywhere, yes it will not be cheap but it will form the basis of our connectivity in the next decades and maybe prevent everyone from having to travel to work all the time by providing enough bandwidth to allow home working to become the norm.

  • Comment number 23.

    It seems as though this country has a major problem with being connected....really, what is it with us? If it's not the roads which are awful and you get stuck behind some chimp doing 35 in a 60....(come on!!!) trains are just as bad (£150 from Chippenham to London....how?), planes which stop taking off at the first hint of snow (I've lived in Canada and they don't let it stop them) and now internet infrastructure.

    It's pitiful to think that I'm paying a company with a chemical symbol that we need to live......think about it.....for 8mb speeds and I'm only getting around 1/2mbs if I'm lucky. What's even more pitiful is that in a country like South Korea they get speeds upto 1000mbs! That's 1GB if I'm not mistaken! Download a movie in 4 minutes approx. Here it takes about 10 weeks!

    So whilst our country has been wasting money on wars we can't win and paying all our bankers for messing up the banking system and my still paying a high mortgage regardless of the base rate, South Korea and others have made us look well and truly stupid. They've been investing in high speed internet infrastructure. I used to think that we were cutting edge but we are truly in the dark ages and until we have some proper investment we're going to be stuck here! And to the clueless, lame duck government whose time is very nearly up I hope - 50p on every (?) phone bill for high speed internet infrastructure...good idea but a bit unfair on people like my dad who don't use the internet at all.....why not take some money from the lottery that just flitter it away anyway, or from the salaries of these overpaid monkeys that sit at a desk all day thinking up new regulations whilst playing Mahjong!?!? Something is seriously wrong in this world and it needs sorting out fast.

    Good idea from whoever it was who mentioned about paying for what we actually use in terms of speed....my broadband monthly bill would be about £2.50 that way! Nice!

  • Comment number 24.

    Well, hoorah for everyone with broadband. I signed up to BT when we moved here, Whyteleafe, and was told that we would definitely get at least 2MB (four years ago). And we got 1.2MB for nearly 18 hours. Can't grumble I suppose. Then it collapsed never to return. I was told, after 3 days of near hopeless attempts to talk to a human, that broadband is much like a lightbulb. When it's working it's fine but when the bulb breaks you have to replace it, except that with broadband you cannot replace it. We live just 1 km from our local exchange, but due to reasons far to dull to go into here we are connected to another exchange 12 kms away and that folks is why we have to put up with 44kbps (yes, you read it correctly) because it's all far too difficult for BT to fix the problem and they tell us with an amazingly serious and gravelly voice that they don't expect to be able to provide broadband here for at least 10 years. At the end of our road everybody has the luxury of cable, but guess what, they ain't gonna cable us because there is no demand... Not spots? Wot spots? In the end we moved to Spain where we live in the mountains but get 7.5Mbps. I love it...

  • Comment number 25.

    I've recently upgraded to BT's upto 20mb package. During the initial conversation I was told to expect around 10Mbps. Being only half a mile from the exchange I expected quicker speeds and was correct. I now have almost the full 20Mbps which is great, when BT allow me to use that. Every evening and weekend this is restricted to 1Mbps! Sufficient for browsing but not for watching anything online. This was what the companies must resolve. Their apparent need to restrict everyone online during peak periods. The networks must be upgraded so this is not necessary.

  • Comment number 26.

    I do wonder about the "rural" stats too - a mere 2 miles from the BT exchange and our village is lucky to get over 1Mbs - it seems very random too - some closer get lower speeds than ones further away.

    A BT engineer once told me (one of MANY "fix-it" visits) that the cables actually do a 2 mile detour into a neighbouring village and back again as that's where the exchange used to be in the twenties! And that some of the cable is still cotton or paper insulated, and generally soaked in water.

    Some people don't even get this level so I guess we should be grateful!

  • Comment number 27.

    I've said it before and will say it again ... to say that "in x years everyone will have 2mb broadband" is such a pathetic ambition. Aim higher say 100mb, then, if you only achive 50mb, well, it's a darn sight better than 2.

  • Comment number 28.

    An Interesting case here in Leeds.

    I live on a new build estate where they are adding 1000 new homes to fit the growing population.

    I am willing to pay for virgin media and 50mb but for the last 4 years+ the Council have not allowed them to install the infrastructure. Instead there are 1000s of homes to share an exchange 5 miles away. I'm lucky to get 1mb off peak.

    Trying to sell 50mb broadband to a limited area is a missed opportunity for BT, Virgin and the like. In the long run they would make more money getting everyone on 5mb broadband so they buy the gadgets and the demand grows. It would then be the consumers choice then to upgrade their package and pay a profitable premium each month.

  • Comment number 29.

    The difficulty with the Sam Knows/ Ofcom data is that reports on averages and there is no truth in averages. Neither does it report on how networks degrade as they hit the busy period. Establishing the consistency of the latter provides the measure of quality needed.

    ISPs need to publish their planning rules which specify the resources for each package. This includes peak hour bandwidth allocation and packet loss rates. This when combined with speed/distance from exchange completes the picture.

  • Comment number 30.

    I have Virgin Media’s up to 20Mb service. Up until now, we’ve received about 17Mb – very please.

    There are some issues in the TW3 area of west London – they started on the 5th Feb. We see slow downs during the day (my partner works from home with her own business). I have to admit, I thought she was imagining it as our service has always been so consistent. But, low & behold, I was at home myself the other week and found that I wasn’t getting a continuous data flow (trying to watch Virtual Revolution on BBC iPlayer); play, stop, buffer, play, stop, buffer, play, stop, buffer… you get the picture.

    After several calls to VM over the following weeks, I was finally told that there will be on-going service degradation (because of the high number of users. The engineers are working on the problem) – estimate to be fixed by June!!

    One of the reasons I chose VM because I understood that fibre didn’t suffer with line ratio issue. It seems my research was flawed.

    Basically – VirginMedia cable users in the TW3 area – we have a major issue that VM don’t even have registered on their service status web page.

  • Comment number 31.

    I live in a rural location and am unfortunately near the end of the BT line. I get on average 0.25mb which allows me to browse websites but I worry about being left behind more and more services going online with more complex websites.
    I am at the mercy of BT and they have no intention of upgrading the line as it isn't worth their while. I could try satellite broadband for around 2mb but even that isn't guaranteed and it is awfully expensive.
    Wasn't there rumours about towns transmitting strong wifi signals that we could pick up on?
    There is no way there will be "2mb for everyone" standard by their target, why can the government not invest in sorting out the digital infrastructure? Online connection makes such a difference to people in the countryside, like online services, shopping, starting an online business...

  • Comment number 32.

    I live in a medium sized town and have a Sky b/band connection. Because I download >3Gb a month I can't use the free service and have to pay for the service with a 10Gb cap. Allegedly this gets me "up to" 10Mb. Excellent news - except that "up to" means, for me "sometimes the speed nearly approaches 1Mb". That's a one, not a ten. Stunning. it's so slow I'm worried a SamKnows monitoring box would bring the internet connection to a standstill. Now *that* is a slow connection.

  • Comment number 33.

    I live in the Highlands of Scotland and currently, on a good day, receive around 1Mbps but more often than not it is as low as 0.5Mbps and it is almost impossible to view media content. BT is the only provider in this area with broadband equipement at the exchange so there is no competition. Mobile broadband (3G) is non existant. At no time in the past has BT voluntarily give me a true indication of the real speed I could expect. Many years ago they sold me a high bandwidth contract and only after severe protestations did they accept that I could not recieve the speeds they promised and put be onto their lowest contract. What is very annoying is that they still contact me to try and persuade me to upgrade.

  • Comment number 34.

    @Jamie R Expect a slippery slope from here on in. Slow down on our Virgin Media connection started back in October, we're now at the point where any kind of streaming media or gaming is utterly impossible and web sites regularly time out or just take an eternity to load. This was a ping test on my connection last night

    http://www.pingtest.net/result/11806728.png

    Just look at the support forum http://community.virginmedia.com/ it's not as if its an isolated problem. VM need a big wake up call and spend some money investing in there network, they have a chance to do great things but will blow it if they carry on like this.

  • Comment number 35.

    @cping500

    I have the Virgin 50Mbps service.

    I'm currently getting 50.04Mbps (6.25MB/s) download speeds as measured by mybroadbandspeed.co.uk That's quite high actually - usually it's around the 49Mbps mark.

    Worth every penny in my opinion.

  • Comment number 36.

    The problem is that the UK appears to suffer from endemic laziness/stupidity and greed among its business leaders and politicians.

    I am on a 'Pro' broadband service with unrestricted speeds at all times of the day, sold as up to 20 Mbit/s. I am 570 metres from the local exchange, yet my router shows a sync rate of 8.128 Mbit/s and I get 6 Mbit/s if I am lucky.

    BT's line checker service estimated up to 16 Mbit/s for my line. A few months later they estimated it would only be up to 10 Mbit/s. However, when the "order completed" email came from my BT-owned ISP it said estimated speeds would be up to 8 Mbit/s, i.e. no different from their previous 'Pro' service I was on.

    It is pathetic, just like our so-called leaders.

  • Comment number 37.

    Broadband speed is only relevant in the context of what you want to do when you are on-line.

    I'm with Talk Talk (formerly Tiscali) and I get an average of 6 Mb/s on an up to 8 Mb/s package which does me very nicely thank you. The Ping Test results are also very good showing a Grade A rating which is a more relevant measure for media streaming than the actual bandwidth.

    I live near Milton Keynes.

  • Comment number 38.

    I also have a Vodafone PAYG USB dongle as a back up which, while not as fast, gives me quite acceptable speeds for checking e-mails, browsing web pages etc using a GPRS connection.

  • Comment number 39.

    @Jamie R - the Virgin system is a ring and that ring is shared amongst all those attached to it.

    Like all operators they refuse to publish their planning rules and Ofcom, consumer panel and advertising folk are doing nothing to address this matter.

    The planning would reveal the rules of thumb is terms of the resources budgetted per user.

  • Comment number 40.

    I think even this report is optimistic in it's results,I live on the S.East coast in a town with a relatively modern exchange but still seldom get more than 2.5Mbps,despite paying for "up to 8Mbps".
    All ISP's should be made to keep to the truth when advertising and not allowed this fictional "up to" figure.

  • Comment number 41.

    I do live in the country but quite close to fairly big town and only get 1/2 a meg. It's hopeless. I'm also in a mobile blackspot so no hope.

    A friend of mine works with farmers and they have to submit their VAT returns online. Many have no broadband! It's all very silly.

  • Comment number 42.

    I lived on the Wirral in Merseyside and lived 200m from the exchange, I actually got 22mbps sync with be unlimited on copper, I didnt realise how lucky I was, Ive since moved house twice and had 9mbps and 5mbps respectively, and while these speeds are completely acceptable for general browsing, research and watching youtube etc, however trying to watch live sports is very much hit and miss and having multiple family members doing things simultaneously is now out the question.

  • Comment number 43.

    People also need to bear in mind that their domestic telephone cabling can seriously affect the speeds they are receiving. Until recently I was only getting 3.5-4Mbps, by removing an old extension and wiring my router directly to the master socket I now get sync speeds of 8096 (8128 is the maximum) and transfers speeds of 7Mbps.

    Ditch those old extension cables and you'll reduce the noise on the line and improve your connection speed.

  • Comment number 44.

    I currently have 20Mb ADSL at home which runs at less that 4Mb/s and this is in central london, the "service" is provided by UKOnline and despite several phone calls, they like many other ADSL Suppliers pass the buck on who is responsible. Until BT solve exchange issues then nothing will change.

    On a side note I have 50Mb supplied by Virgin Media at my house where im moving very soon (rural Essex) and have received on average (over the past 3 weeks) a steady 54.07Mb/s broadband. All this and its £5 cheaper than UKOnline.

  • Comment number 45.

    I live in a part of Basingstoke. This is supposed to be the developed world - the silicon valley of the south east. I get 576k, and always have. I'm waiting for FTTC, but not holding my breath. It's a disgrace.
    My friend, in rural France, gets 20Mb/s.

  • Comment number 46.

    We need a minimum 100Mb broadband speed throughout the UK. Anything else just won't cut it. And, if the Government is going to drag it's heals on this subject like they do on most things lately we are going to be living in the dark-ages. Until the oil comes through from the Falklands, then we will be able to afford a comprehensive fibre network. Or, are we going to rely on satellites.

  • Comment number 47.

    we were told by bt the max speed we could get was 5meg im less than half a mile from the exchange in weston super mare most of the time i got less than 2meg we put up with this for 18 months then decided to goto o2 i know get a constant 16meg when i told bt they said we can give you 20meg with no upgrades to the exchange just double the price i stayed with o2 been very happy with the service from them id recomend them to anyone

  • Comment number 48.

    Broadband in the UK is a farce. I was just unwittingly converted from Tiscali to TalkTalk and the first thing we knew about this was receiving two letters:

    1) We have increased your speed to 20 Meg for "free" says new TalkTalk
    2) We have increased your bill from 14.99 to 22.48 per month.

    REALITY of this situation:

    1) NOT a free upgrade was it? LIES LIES LIES
    2) Speed 'Upgrade' has gone made it go DOWN from 1.5 Meg to 1.1 Meg

    I am paying 7.49 MORE a month for this worse TalkTalk system??? I was happy with what I had but im now feel totally conned.

    Also, My lousy 1.1 speed now suffers very noticable slowdowns during peak times whereas before it didn't ... You couldnt make this up!!!

    Who allows this? Why is it legal? Why don't they fix it? Why don't they care?

    Charles Dunstone has a lot to answer for this mess.

    Helpdesk should be rebranded as "desk" which is expensive to tell TalkTalk that their system is terrible? Nothing but disgraceful.

    My dad has also suffered the same wrath, he was cold called into buying a "booster" pack for £4 a month extra, which made no difference, his line speed was 16Meg before the booster, 16Meg afterwards +4 extra, but after cancelling they dropped his line to 8Meg.

    TalkTalk are deceitful.

  • Comment number 49.

    Unfortunately during the introduction of broadband into this country we have had a land grab where service providers have won huge numbers of customers by offering unsustainably low prices. What we are seeing in the market now is the result of this. Suppliers are not making enough money to invest in infrastructure or provide a proper service.

    I have chosen to pay significantly more than most for my broadband in order to go with a quality supplier. As a result I get friendly courteous service if I phone them and 13 Mbps 24 hours a day every day. If I decide I don't like them I can switch with no cancellation fees and very little notice.

    Unfortunately the lack of infrastructure is a national problem, if I did not have a reasonable copper connection my ISP would not be able to provide the service they do even though they are a premium supplier.

    As far as I can see a good first step towards a solution would be for the law to require ISPs to have a scale of charges according to speed and to monitor actual speeds on each connection only charging for what was truly delivered. In addition any customer finding less than the contracted speed should be allowed to terminate the contract at no cost immediately.

  • Comment number 50.

    In Milton Keynes, we don't have the option of cable broadband, you have to use a BT line.

    There are no plans to introduce FTTC here, which is annoying as we don't have an alternative.

    I used to live 300m from one of the main exchanges and could get 6.5 mbps , now I have moved to an estate 5 miles from the exchange, I'm getting 3.5 instead...faster than many here have said, but I think BT should get Bradwell Abbey exchange sorted for infinity while Virgin Media remains unavailable.

    21st century town with 1970s infrastructure.

  • Comment number 51.

    I am on the Virgin Media 20 MB connection.
    And never realy been happy with it.

    But it still better than other ISP that I've had in the past.

    During peek time my speed can drop right down to 8-12MB and of peek time about 15 MB, some times I will get the 20 MB connection.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    Ive had 3 isp in 2 yrs, my line and download speeds have been 5-6mbit for the last year. My current line speed now has dropped to 2mbit, contacted my isp they said 2mbit ist the best you can get! but ive been using theh internet for the last 2+ years with internet speeds of 5-6mbit??? can anyone explain this.

    Im on a non llu exchange yet surrounded by LLU exchanges, so now i have to pay through the nose for a 2mbit service that should be 5-6mbit. Its just typical of this country YOU GET RIPPED OFF period. Everything is inflated to death, they want maximum revenue for poorest services. I now think of the uk as a backward place to live. We dont make anything and yet class uk as central fincial hub how can this be when WWW access from the UK is so poor better off accessing the net from artic circle than from the uk

  • Comment number 54.

    i used to use AOL using there up to 8mb package and i got 2MB consitently, i believe aol use bt wholesale for their broadband. I switched to sky broadband 20mb and i am already getting 12mb and they are still testing my line so it should go faster. I think its all to do with the provider really.

  • Comment number 55.

    Rory - There most definitely is a divide, and BT and the government know it. Upwards of a million people in UK with adsl rates below 500kb/s cannot view embedded clips on the BBC News site, cannot watch iPlayer live, cannot make VPN connections to their offices. These people aren't crofters or hermits. They just have the misfortune to live near the limits of BT's creaking copper infrastructure. The situation drives away business, impacts property prices, and makes a joke of empty political promises to make UK the best connected country in Europe.

  • Comment number 56.

    I thank what people don't realise is that unless you are one of the lucky ones whose local exchange is LLU enabled and you are using an LLU ISP, (TalkTalk, Virgin etc.) you are restricted to BT's Wholesale Internet service.

    What this means is that even though your ISP might claim speeds upto 8Mbps, your connection still has to go through BT's 'pipe' in the exchange. Think of it like a long shared hosepipe - there is only finite water pressure and the more people tapping off the hosepipe reduces the available pressure even more, until it is reduced to a trickle. Each exchange will only have a limited amount of 'pipes' and even if your exchange is LLU enabled, each ISP will only have limited bandwidth available to its users - usually 34Mbps, 155Mbps or 622Mbps.

    Your connections contention ratio effects what speed you can achieve and whether that speed is sustained throughout the day, i.e. during peak periods. Many ISPs have contention ratios of 50:1. Remember that hosepipe? This means upto 49 other customers are sharing your pipe at any one time! When selecting an ISP, always aim for a contention ratio of 20:1 or lower if the speed of your connection is important.

    I hope this clarifies why some people will have a terrible experience with a certain ISP in one part of the country (A heavily populated town for instance) and yet other parts will have a fantastic experience (A village with a medium population) with the same ISP.

    Kai.

  • Comment number 57.

    BT are awful basically. I mean I moved house recently, and at both houses (the same number after transfer), they said I could get 9Mbps on 20Mbps service. However my dad cancelled BT after they were idiots and c*cked up the broadband transfer. I am now on 02's 20Meg service and get 15-18meg constantly, even in peak times, whereas BT it would slow to a crawl. (This is on the same exchange in the same town). The thing is I wanted to get VM 50meg, however there is no cable at this flat where I have moved to. Yet in the same town where I used to live there was cable. it's stupid to be honest.
    Basically, do NOT go with BT, there service is an overpriced rip-off that is slow and crap. If you have no choice but to have phone-line broadband, go with 02, its cheaper, faster, and reliable. They are the best ADSL 2 ISP in my opinion. Also I get 1.6Mb upload / 2.5Mb upload on 02...

  • Comment number 58.

    I currently pay for 20Mbps from Virgin: I average around 5Mbps. I live in London.
    What I most object to is paying for something I don't get. How did the ISP's get away with this RIP-OFF?
    When I get gas or electricity or phone usage, I don't pay for what they COULD give me, I pay for what I actually use. So why isn't it the same for broadband?

    If we only paid for what we actually got, then you could bet your life they'd be making damn sure we all got 100Mbps minimum, no matter how far we lived from an exchange. With the current system, there's no incentive for them to upgrade: why should they, as they're already getting almost maximum revenue without having to invest in the system?

  • Comment number 59.

    I agree with others when they say that the price you pay should be proportional to the speed you get. In my situation I pay for an up to 20Mbps service but actually get 7Mbps. I have to admit, that's not bad over all, however, when you consider I live 12ft from the exchange (if I walk to the end of the garden lean over the fence I can physically touch the building!) it suddenly doesn't look great. Whenever I bring this up with either the ISP or BT they both just blame each other.

  • Comment number 60.

    O.K. so we ALL now know that the Speed delivered over our Fixed Land Phone - Line Copper piping is somewhat very Low, and that the so-called "Only" way to deliver faster Broadband Speeds is to have installed NEW Optic - Fibre Cables.

    NOW, am I missing something here? - For why can't B.T. just renew the ordinary Over-Head standard Copper Cable that is already giving us Broadband with a newer version of Over-Head Cable that includes the necessary required Optic - Fibre cable element to increase Speeds, instead of blaming everything upon the idea that ALL the New Optic - Fibre Cables must be sited Underground?

    Therefore, considering the Profits already made each Year by B.T., THERE MUST be more profits ahead still in investing upon a complete renewal of ALL Over - Head Street Cables to ensure that this Companies future again considering also that the only reason that many People today with Mobile - Phones still retain a Land - Line is because they are awaiting for Home Computer Broadband speeds to be increased.

    In other Words - Just get on with it Today, and Stop trying to put off the future in ways to deliver Optic - Fibre Technology.

  • Comment number 61.

    #48 - I'm in a similar situation to you .... after moving house 2 years ago (for decent Broadband) I took an uncapped 8 Mbps package with the excellent Tiscali - I had a CONSTANT 7.6 connection at ALL times of the day .... now TalkTalk own it I get between 5.7 and 6.3 AND have to re-start at busy times (teatime, etc.) ..... when I rang they said that I have a good speed (which is fair enough) but how come the service has degraded since TalkTalk took over?
    They couldn't answer except for saying "I had a good speed" again .....
    Useless rob-dogs ..... GRRRRRR !!

    I'm now shopping around and may switch to Virgin cable.

  • Comment number 62.

    I am with Virgin cable - 10 MB Broadband and TV in Enfield.I have to say that I am getting very close to what I am paying for { 9.92 Mbps } at all times although they do cap downloads over a certain amount before 9 pm but I just wait until after 9 pm.The service does go down every two weeks for one/two hours but this is mainly in the day so I expect most Customers are unaware as they would be at work.

    I was involved in the original ADSL trials that BT ran in London and at that time it was 1/2 MB long before it went on sale to their Customers - the trial period was fantastic as there was no contention ratio but once they opened the network they did use a contention ratio.

    Where I live Virgin cable has a very good network but I note they are slow to spread it out to other areas.I know BT are claiming all sorts of speeds but I will stick with Virgin.Unfortunately I cant afford 50 MB but with having a stable 10 MB I cant really complain.

  • Comment number 63.

    It's not just about getting a decent connection speed, it's also about the stability of the connection. I currently get around 1Mb from BT on my "up to 8Mb" connection, but at random intervals throughout the day the connection drops completely for anywhere from 15 seconds to 30 mins. Now 15 seconds may not seem like a long time, but if it happens during the processing of online orders etc, it interrupts the link for long enough that they fail, meaning that you then have to go through the whole process again and cross your fingers when you hit that Submit button.

    Reporting this to BT is a nightmare in itself as anyone who has ever battled with their automated call system and offshore call centres will know. 3 years ago, I got the problem "fixed" since when rather than losing connection 4-5 times an hour, it went down to maybe 4 or 5 times in the whole evening. The problem? Well BT denied there was a fault for around 2 months but eventually moved me to a new cable into the local box - yes, it was simply an old corroded copper cable!

    Now, my random disconnections are on the increase again (oddly coinciding with the recent spate of bad weather.....) so I'm looking forward to another couple of months arguing with them about this.

    Basically, there are parts of the country that don't have the basic infrastructure in place to support the services currently on offer, let alone being future proof! I'm not even one of those lucky ones who has a choice of supplier - my local exchange is BT only.

  • Comment number 64.

    A new service from a company called Sharedand has been available for a little while which enables users to aggregate or bond the capacity of a number of lines. This is a small incremental cost over the cost of the lines with software loaded onto standard modems. This can help overcome most of the capacity below the (rather low) Universal service limit of 2Mbs, but more importantly increase the speed right up through the range to the highest speeds today of 40-50Mbs. For example with their business product using four lines people covered by the growing BT Infinity service could get up to 160Mbs. The service is available across the whole country now and being offered by a number of ISPs and parts of BT.

  • Comment number 65.

  • Comment number 66.

    #48 and #61. Just think, in the time it took to get all that off your chest you could have got a MAC from your existing provider and then switched to another ISP. If everyone switched from the rubbish ISPs - and we all know who they are, what colour they are and what initials they have - then they would soon die. And yet who is the biggest ISP in the UK....?

  • Comment number 67.

    #60: Fibre needs to be buried because it's fragile. A gust of wind could easily break an overhead fibre -- even if it's armour-plated -- because there would be flexing where it's attached to the poles.

  • Comment number 68.

    Its all just one big con by the ISP's to get you to spend more money. They control the speed themselves.
    I've been on cable for years and its always the same.
    When I had 500K I never got better than 200K.
    Then when I changed to 1meg I magically got 500K the next day on exactly the same line and modem.
    When I changed to 3meg I got 1-2meg at best, once again on exactly the same line and modem.
    Now, some 10 years on I'm on 10meg and guess what, I can't get more than 5-6meg. Yet I bet if I upgraded to 20meg tonight I'd be getting 10meg tomorrow !!! and probably still on the same 10 year old modem.

  • Comment number 69.

    I now live in a town - Shrewsbury. I get 1Mbs. 2 miles down the road - in the country they get 5 to 8mbs. Why? Because I am over three miles from the exchange but the village down the road in the "country" has it own switch. I came to Shrewsbury from the fens - you know that bit of the country north of Cambridge that's as flat as a pancake and as isolated as the moon. There we had 8Mbs 5 years ago but we didn't have mains drainage or mains gas.

    Funny old world all back to front sometimes

  • Comment number 70.

    I have Sky broadband "up to 20Mb" but was experiencing slow speeds. after checking my line Sky told me the line was only capable of running at 5.5kbps - nowhere near the 20Mb I'm paying for, and I only live 1 mile from the exchange. Subscribers should pay for the average speed they actually get - hit them in the pocket where it really hurts. That would spur BT to upgrade the old copper cables!

  • Comment number 71.

    I've been given a 'free' upgrade from my ISP to 8mbps from 2mbps.

    Great, apart from my telephone line is rated at 2mbps from BT, and since they have given the 'upgrade' the average speed has actually fallen by half a mbps!

    How does that even figure out?

  • Comment number 72.

    i have 20mb broadband with sky and it says my download speed for my line is 0.5mb how do i get it go faster?

 

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