Tag Archives: Broadband

UK Broadband Users Paying Over the Odds

A recent survey that was conducted by the Guardian has revealed that many broadband users in the UK are receiving speeds that are more than 40% slower than that they are paying for.

The survey that was conducted by the Guardian attracted more than 3,000 participants where the user conducted a speed test and provided some information such as which broadband provider they are using, the speed that their broadband provider say they are receiving and the actual results from their speed test. This survey was conducted as the Guardian wanted to create an up to date map of Britain which distinguishes the difference between advertised speeds and speeds received.

The key findings that have so far been published by the newspaper have revealed that, “Customers are paying for an average of 12 megabits per second, but actually receiving 7Mbps, a gap of 42%.”

The response to the survey has also revealed that many participants have struggled with poor speeds when the weather has been bad. The newspaper claimed, “Readers complained of broadband blackspots in city centres, of exposed copper lines that fail in bad weather and of having to move businesses out of homes because of poor connections.”

The published result of the survey revealed that TalkTalk and Sky broadband users were receiving the slowest speeds from those advertised with an astonishing 60% difference. “TalkTalk and Sky customers reported a 60% shortfall, the widest gap between median advertised and actual services. TalkTalk subscribers had been promised an average speed of 8Mbps, but were receiving 5Mbps, and Sky customers were promised an average 12Mbps and received 4.8Mbps.”

At the other end of the scale, it was the BT broadband users who reported the best results with a 25% difference between advertised speeds and the speeds received. “BT’s customers fared best, paying for 8Mbps and receiving a quarter less at 6Mbps.”

From April, broadband suppliers can now only advertise up to speeds if at least 10% of their customers are receiving them. As a broadband company has to only ensure that a small percentage of their customers are receiving a certain speed, many customers are still being misled to believe that they are receiving a broadband speed that in reality much slower.

This survey has raised the awareness and importance to check the broadband speeds that you are receiving compared to those that you are paying for. So far, thousands of broadband users have now realised that they have been paying over the odds for a service which is nowhere near the standard that was offered.

The way forward is to conduct a speed test on an independent site and if the results show that you are not receiving an adequate percentage of the speed that you are paying for, contact your broadband supplier and find out if they have any procedures in place for this issue.

Rural Broadband: Slow To Improve

According to The Countryside Alliance, plans that were made by the government to bring superfast broadband to rural areas have made little progress. In October 2010, George Osborn, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, revealed that Cumbria, Herefordshire, North Yorkshire and the Highlands and Islands would be the four areas that would be used to trial the scheme.

The Countryside Alliance revealed its findings after sending freedom of information requests to the councils that are involved. The information that was received from the councils confirmed that none of the councils have received any money from the Treasury, and that none of them have even selected a broadband company to setup the networks.

This has raised concerns amongst members of The Countryside Alliance as they feel that the amount of time to even implement a pilot scheme has taken far too long, and that the divide between the urban and rural areas will only increase. They are fearful that if the process isn’t sped up, the money that is to be invested will not be enough to close the gap significantly.

Alice Barnard, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance argued “It has been over a year since these pilots were set up and the people who live in areas with no or unreliable broadband coverage haven’t seen any improvement. Unless more is done to simplify the process of acquiring and implementing rural broadband projects, the digital divide will continue to grow and the money pledged by the Coalition will remain all but worthless.”

The government who are aiming to make the UK number one in Europe at having the best broadband network in place by 2015 are in a much more positive mind frame. A spokesman claimed that the councils are making good progress with the projects, and that the nation is on course to have the best broadband network in Europe by 2015.

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sports also argued that “The money for these projects has been allocated and will be provided to the local authorities when they begin spending on the projects. This is standard practice in provision of capital grants.”

As people have become more reliant on the internet for business and general use, the importance of having faster broadband speeds has become more prominent. Whilst the need for faster broadband speeds has been recognised, it is mainly those living in urban areas that have been able to take advantage of them. Supplying those who live in the more rural and remote areas within the nation with faster broadband speeds has become very intermittent and as a result, many people are still having to cope with slow broadband speeds.

One reason why it has taken so long to get things moving is because the government has passed the responsibility of choosing which company will be employed to set up the broadband networks to the councils. As a result of this, councillors have the added pressure of determining which company will be employed. This is not an easy, straight forward task when competing companies such as BT and Fujitsu are bidding against each other.

Malcolm Corbett, head of the Independent Networks Co-operative Association believes that this is the main reason why so little progress has been made. He argued “The government has put the job into the hands of councillors who have never done it before.”

The bidding process has so far cost the councils and competing companies thousands of pounds which have resulted in a number of companies withdrawing their offers.  Herefordshire County Council has revealed that the bidding process has cost them around £50,000 so far, whilst Fujitsu have claimed that they have had to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to bid for the different regions. The money involved in the bidding process has been too much for some of the smaller competing companies such as Geo UK who are one of a few companies to completely withdraw.

Many people believe that due to such procedures and delays, that the government is disillusioned if it genuinely believes that the UK will have Europe’s best broadband network by 2015. Malcolm Corbett sums it up by claiming “The government has set a deadline to be the best for broadband in Europe by 2015 but no-one thinks this is achievable.”

UK Broadband Speeds Drop Dramatically During Peak Hours

A report that has been released by the comparison site Uswitch has revealed that UK broadband speeds drop by an average of 35% during the peak times of internet use. The researchers obtained the results by conducting two millions broadband speed tests.

It has been revealed that the peak internet surfing times are between 7pm and 9pm and it is between these times where millions of internet users suffer from the reduction in broadband speeds. It was also noted that the best time to be surfing the internet is between 2am and 3am. The report has also revealed that there are significant regional variations between evening and morning surfing times.

According to the report, broadband users in Evesham, Worcestershire, suffered the most dramatic decline in broadband speeds with a staggering 69% drop-off between off-peak morning and peak time evening surfing.

Those living in Weston-super-Mare don’t have it much better, with the broadband speeds dropping a massive 64%.

Even those living in the more rural areas of the UK have to put up with the drop in broadband speeds, even though the peak speeds are slow. This was most evident in Wadebridge, Cornwall, where speeds nearly halved from 4.1Mbps at off-peak times to 2.1Mbps at peak times.

Ernest Doku, Uswitch’s technology expert stated “It really is surprising just how much broadband speeds fluctuate at different times of the day, with drop-offs of almost 70% in some areas of the UK. Not many internet users enjoy the maximum headline broadband speeds offered by providers, and certainly not during the working week.”

Broadband speeds are becoming more and more important each day as services such as on-demand TV become more popular. Ofcom, the UK’s Telecoms regulator, recently revealed that British households download an average of 17GB’s of data each month over their home broadband connections.

One of the main problems that have been expressed by critics is that many consumers are being misled by internet service providers. They claim that the service providers continue to advertise their maximum broadband speeds, even though the majority of users don’t get them.

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has created a new rule which will be implemented from April next year. This ruling will only allow the service providers to advertise their maximum speeds for net packages if more than 10% of its customers receive them.

Ofcom have reported that almost half of broadband users are on packages which advertise speeds above 10Mbps but receive speeds of 6.8Mbps on average.

Shameful UK Internet Speeds

Akami just published the results of a survey which monitored 604 million unique IP addresses from 238 countries and regions.

Asia dominated this contest with South Korea emerging top with an average 13.8Mbps connection speed. This was closely followed by Hong Kong with 10Mbps then Japan at 8.9Mbps.

The UK had a shocker and trailed at 25th in the world with an average speed of just 5Mbps. It didn’t even fair well in Europe coming 15 out of the 22 countries surveyed.

The Netherlands won the contest in Europe with average speeds of 8.5Mbps. In addition the Netherlands came top with regards to having ‘higher broadband.’ This refers to connections higher than 5Mbps. In the Netherlands 68% of connections were in this bracket.

The UK again fell flat in this respect with just 30% of the population having access to ‘higher broadband.’ This is particularly shameful as 7 of the top 10 were in Europe!

Positive was the fact that the average global broadband speed has improved by 21% to 2.6Mbps. In the UK speeds have increased by 28% in the last 12 months. However this has not improved in the last quarter, whereas 80 other countries/regions saw their connection speeds increase by 10% within this period.

It is not just the online backup and disaster recovery market which would benefit from more modern internet speeds, it’s every industry. The UK needs to double its efforts to stay up to date.

Will the BT race to infinity increase Online Backup Interest?

The BT ‘Race to Infinity’ is a new fibre optic broadband roll out that promises to deliver up to 40Mb fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) internet to its customers around the UK, at no extra cost. BT has pledged that this service will reach over 10 million users by 2012, or more specifically for the start of the London Olympics. Of course fibre-optic broadband is not new, companies like Virgin Media having been offering their service for over 3 years, however their coverage is limited to ‘Virgin Media Areas’.

The widespread introduction of this high speed or ‘Next Generation Access’, could see more and more business look into the Online Backup market. This is due to a myth that you need ‘fast’ Internet connections to utilise an Online Backup solution. Whilst this is the case for many low tier products, enterprise offerings such as Asgira that use WAN optimisation techniques to ensure that large volumes of data can be protected over modest connections.

This myth, although false, has caused many companies to fail to even look into the Online Backup market. However, as the uptake of this high-speed Internet connection increases, it is expected that the interest in Online Backup and cloud solutions in general will also increase among the SMB market as their Internet connections increase in speed without the extra costs.

These extra demands in Online Backup, would then raises issues with software’s back end scalability, i.e. just how well will some service providers be able to cope with the increase in storage requirements? The ability to cope depends entirely on the software, backend hardware and the expertise of the company employees.

Could this high speed internet roll out spell the end for old fashioned, out of date and unreliable tape backup once and for all?

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