ISPreview UK Study Highlights Unreliable Broadband ISP Speed Predictions
The latest ISPreview.co.uk study of 1377 Internet access customers in the United Kingdom has claimed that 67.5% of respondents found that their broadband ISPs were not delivering the Internet download speed first estimated for their line and many reported having to suffer significantly slower speeds, with only a minority gaining more than their original estimate.
Currently the majority of broadband ISPs are required by the communications regulator, Ofcom, to ensure that consumers are provided with "information on their estimated access line speed, regardless of whether this is conducted over the phone, in a retail shop or through the ISP's website."
Most providers reflect this requirement as a range (e.g. between 10 and 15 Megabits per second), which must be equivalent to the access line speeds achieved by the 20th to 80th percentiles of the ISP's similar customers (i.e. customers with similar line characteristics).
But ISPreview.co.uk's survey reports that only 16% of respondents actually received a speed that was "almost spot on" (i.e. within the predicted range) and just 11.4% were able to achieve faster than the original estimate. Meanwhile 25% reported that they received speeds of 7-10Mbps slower than originally estimated, while 21% suffered speeds that were 4-6Mbps slower, 20% claimed to get 1-3Mbps slower (this is arguably within broadbands margin for error) and mercifully only 6.5% had to deal with performance that was 10Mbps+ slower.
"Consumer broadband is known as a 'Best Efforts' service because in order to be affordable the capacity has to be shared between many users. Similarly older technologies, such as ADSL, are much more susceptible to a variety of problems (poor home wiring, electromagnetic interference etc.) that can be difficult for the ISP to predict and tackle," said ISPreview.co.uk's Founder, Mark Jackson. "Thankfully the technologies are constantly improving and Ofcom's rules also allow customers, specifically those that suffer from a serious loss of performance, to exit their contract penalty free (provided the ISP cannot resolve the problem first). But this clause is generally only valid if you experience such a problem within the first 3 months of a new contract."
"ISPreview.co.uk would like to see consumers being given more protection against extreme losses of broadband performance, especially those that occur outside of the initial three months of a new contract. At the same time it's important to remember that home broadband will never be able to compete with the reliability of a dedicate business leased line and, given the low prices and aggressively competitive market, we perhaps shouldn't expect it too."
"On the other hand none of this must become an excuse for allowing serious faults to persist and in that sense we welcome Ofcom's work to improve the quality and support with BTOpenreach's underlying infrastructure, which powers many of the country's home broadband connections. At the same time we look forward to the next revision of the regulators code of practice for broadband speeds in the hope that it will bring further improvements," added Jackson.