More than two thirds (67.5%) of UK homes do not receive the broadband speed that their ISP first estimated, with most left to suffer a significantly slower performance than originally anticipated, according to a new survey of 1377 ISPreview.co.uk readers.
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,” explains 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”.