/ Technology

ASA tells BT to give accurate broadband speed estimates

Snail on keyboard

An Advertising Standards Authority ruling has set some hares running in the world of broadband. The ASA upheld a complaint from a BT customer who claimed they were misled as to the speed they could achieve.

This is an interesting development, particularly for the 28,000 of you who have signed our Broadband Speed Guaranteed petition.

The ASA argued that the ‘availability checker’ on BT’s website, which gives you an estimate of the speeds you can expect at your address, amounts to a significant persuasive factor in a prospective customer deciding whether they’ll opt for BT broadband. Only, in the case of the person complaining, they couldn’t achieve the speeds they were quoted at their address. BT’s advertising on its website was therefore deemed misleading in the eyes of the ASA.

As a result, the ASA has told BT that its availability checker must provide accurate information.

Give us speed guaranteed

Our campaign calls on broadband providers to give accurate and personalised speed estimates at the point of sale, and for this to be put in writing. When you’re in the process of committing to a long-term (and sometimes very expensive) contract, you ought to be able to rely on the information you’re being given.

And although there’s no guarantee that you’ll always be able to receive the maximum speed you were offered, your provider should give you a realistic range. If you can’t regularly achieve speeds within this range, you should be let out of your contract penalty-free.

Have you ever checked your predicted broadband speeds on a providers’ website only to find out that, in reality, your speeds are much lower? Are you paying for speeds you’re just not getting?


Although I havent seen the full details of the particular case quoted by ASA, I would have thought a “best estimate” of the broadband speed available at a particular address is all that is available.
What are ISPs supposed to do if they havent any active data for an existing broadband connection ?
Accurate figures would require a test broadband connection to be made and the data then recorded for every property !

I can understand ASA’s concern if there are significant flaws in the methods used to make the estimates.


Hi rarrar

You’re right, they are never going to be able to test every single connection in every single property, that would be prohibitively expensive! However, what we want to see is an estimate at the outset, as accurate as possible (a range and a pin-point estimate of a speed you can expect to receive regularly) and then what happens after that is really important. If you find, at any point in the contract not just in the first few weeks or months, that the speeds you’re getting are below the bottom end of the range you were given, you should be allowed out. If providers are going to advertise these superfast speeds then it has to be possible for customers to get out of their contracts if they can’t achieve those speeds.

Louisa L says:
9 May 2014

The other thing which is very important to consider is in perhaps more rural areas where such things as satellite or long range wifi (wimax for example) are installed and you are told the speeds you would get before commiting yourself to sometimes a minimum year’s contract AND a very costly installation for for equipment. It is all too easy for these companies to make incredible profits on the installation alone, and then not only to lock you into the contract for a year but then to provide the most awful service and the customer should be able to not only get out of the contract but get a refund on the installation fee. Some of these companies really do get customers over a barrel with upfront payments and it really is a con if they’re not providing the promised service

Tink says:
8 May 2014

It’s all fair and good being allowed out of contract if you’re not getting the speeds you should be getting, but ultimately those in rural areas with no access to fast broadband it’s just tough. All the DSL providers rely on BT’s network so moving from one provider to another won’t make a blind bit of difference, and unfortunately this is the case for around three quarters of the UK.


Spot on Tink
The maximum speed is set by the link to the exchange and really shouldnt change over time.
However how much bandwidth an ISP provides from the exchange to the www is down to how much money they spend and affects peak time speed. So changing ISP can improve peak time speed on a BT network connection.


My ISP used to claim speeds ‘up to 24 Mbps’, which annoyed me because the best speed I achieved was about 7 Mbps download. I complained that the ISP was guilty of misrepresentation and many others complained too.

Now the 24 Mbps claim has been dropped and the ISPs postcode checker advises me that a speed of 9 Mbps is the average for my area, with a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 11.5 Mbps. I have stopped complaining, even though the speed I achieve is towards the lower end of the range promised. I would be even more impressed if the ISP told me to expect 5 Mbps, since I would be achieving more than expected.

It is time that ASA banned all advertising that includes ‘up to’ claims.

Tink says:
9 May 2014

Wavechange – this is exactly the problem, if they tell you you’re going to 5Mb and you get 8Mb you’d be delighted. So what would stop the ISPs deliberately giving you a slower speed estimate to avoid a complaint from a customer or the ASA?

KevinP says:
9 May 2014

Why is that a problem? If ISPs predicted at the lower end and you achieved better then you are going to be a happy chappy. If I go to the pub and order a pint, pay for a pint and get a pint and a half I don’t see that as a problem 🙂 What I don’t want is to order a pint and only get half a pint!

Martin Robards says:
9 May 2014

We are in a rural area in SE, but only 1hr by train from London and 7min drive to the station-yet our best BB speed is 0.6 -0.5 Mbps . BT says there is no plan to upgrade our exchange, presumably because the population density is too low and our line is about 8Km in a roundabout route from the exchange.
Yet they still ask me to upgrade to a higher speed! and pay a higher tariff.

Jenny Morgan says:
9 May 2014

We live in London but continue to receive poor broadband both in terms of speed and broadband being cut off. If we could have BT Infinity it should help but exchange still not geared for this so not possible. In this day and age and living close to Central London this is appalling !

Peter Lorimer says:
9 May 2014

You don’t need the words ‘living close to Central London’ for it to be deemed appalling!


There is another problem with Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC). If you live near the cabinet then you may achieve something like the claimed speed, but if your cabinet is half a mile away (as it may well be) then you have half a mile of old copper or aluminium wire for the signal to get through and quite likely it won’t be any better than your old ADSL, you’ll just pay more for it.
The only real solution is Fibre To The House (FTTH) A few progressive villages have installed this and we get between 900 and 1,000Mb/s, probably the fastest broadband in the country. There is a cost, but it’s comparable to best FTTC and you can ditch BT completely, use VoIP – no line rental required.

geum says:
10 May 2014

Oh what a joy it would be to ditch BT – and Virgin. Time they put some money into providing either cable service or an equivalent (local wifi?) to those who are paying as much as those on cable service itself

I’m sick and tired of their adverts promising to upgrade optical cable to 20Mb when they make absolutely no effort to improve the copper wire bandwidth we rural customers are stuck with (and that applies to BT too). On top of which during the last fortnight they “improved” their email service so that it often took over 30 mins hanging around waiting for a Home page link connection to the email servers. Tonight it was about 3 mins – they clearly don’t have the eqpt to handle their customers peak demand – so God knows what the download speed is under these circumstances.

OK I know that’s not exactly part of the download speed, but what’s the point of having 8 Mb on a download when you’ve such an appalling delay in achieving a connection? Connection time should be as much a part of the service quote as the download speed once connected.


Just for info, to pjaj.

It would be interesting to know just how quickly, the BT Infinity speed drops off with distance.

I changed to BT Infinity 2 last November. The street cabinet is 875m away, which is just nicely over 1/2 a mile, and I was pleased to get 15Mbps upload and 50Mbps download. Both of these speeds vary from time to time; but the upload speed has always been in the range 14 – 16 Mbps, and the download speed in the range 46 – 54 Mbps.

Hence I am quite happy. But what speed I would get, if I was 2 miles away from the street cabinet, I do not know.

G Hampton says:
13 May 2014

Gosh you are quite lucky then, I am 900 metres away and the engineer told me this is far enough away to affect speed. My download on BT Infinity 2 is 15Mb and upload 3Mb. Our problem is the line from junction box to house is copper and I am told this has affected speed as well. I would be wary of moving 2 miles away from a junction box

Peter M says:
21 July 2014

“quite likely it won’t be any better than your old ADSL, you’ll just pay more for it.”

Sorry, I really have to challenge this assertion. I believe (but could be wrong) that Openreach has a minimum speed of 15 Mbps as a level acceptable for FTTC connections. If you are some distance from the exchange and with poor wiring (or even good wiring, speaking from past experience with about 6 km between home and exchange in N Wales), then IF you are able to get FTTC, odds are it will be significantly better than not “any better than your old ADSL”. Quite unlikely you were previously getting 15 Mbps under those circumstances.

I moved (to Merseyside) but unfortunately had not done enough checks before putting the offer in (had seen about a dozen properties and this one slipped my initial broadband checks, so having moved here, found it doesn’t have access to VirginMedia cable, though 80 feet away on another street, it is), and the FTTC estimate for me here is 33.5 Mbps (while the chip shop the other side of the main road behind me has an estimate of 67 Mbps, served from a fibre cabinet 20 feet from my back garden).

Estimate for the homes in N Wales where I used to live, which was 2.5 Mbps when I was there until ADSL 2+ went live (dropped to 1.5 Mbps), shows 80 Mbps, so my move was perhaps not the best idea! Anyway, happy with other facilities here so can live with it.

Ex BT BB Designer says:
9 May 2014

an estimate is exactly what is says (not a quote) and is achievable in ideal conditions. Of course ideal conditions rarely exist. The cables don’t run the the shortest distance according to google maps and line losses, type and gauge (thickness) of cable in the network will affect the speed. Contention ratio’s (number of customers sharing the same card on the ISP’s equipment) affect download speed. That said, line losses therefore speed is more predictable with infinity BB as it’s only copper the short distance from the green street cabinet to your house. Make the most of any speed you do get by having minimal internal wiring in your house and fitting a broadband accelerator. A poor router wi-fi will affect speed, consider going over to 5Ghz or better use a lan/cat5 cable direct between your router & PC.


Consumers live in the real world and not an ideal one. We have had enough of this nonsense and unless ISPs are honest with their customers and potential customers then perhaps some large fines would help bring those in marketing down to earth.

I am not an expert but would suggest that it would make sense to estimate speeds from those achieved by customers living nearby. I was told that this is not possible when I suggested this to my ISP, but I wonder if this is true.


Absolutely right – the point is that ISPs need to be honest about the speeds their prospective customers can hope to achieve, rather than hooking them into a contract with a tempting offer of a super fast speed they’ll never likely get. Of course there are always going to be limitations on the speeds that can be offered (unless everyone has the fibre to the home discussed above), but that should be made crystal clear to the customer early on.

Peter M says:
21 July 2014

In my experience with a number of ISPs over the past 12-13 years, the estimates have all been fairly close to what is achieved. I think the ISPs and even Openreach do a pretty good job with their estimates.

I think that the ASA was misguided in its decision – there was no deliberate “misleading” by BT, and as the ex BT BB design person says, and the factors itemised by Topher, below, lots of things can affect the eventual results… in articles and discussions on ThinkBroadband.com, for example, electric fences, Christmas lights (both causing electrical interference), and even extension wiring (picking up interference within the home) have been reported as reasons for problems with BB speed.

Back in Wales, I helped a friend and simply removing the extension wiring that went to the first floor, gave a speed increase of 1 Mbps (from 2.5 to 3.5 Mbps)… quite significant.

Can you name names as to which ISPs make these “tempting offers” without speed tests, and if Which? is going to push for higher speeds, perhaps some “blind test” sampling (in association with some of the ISP / broadband specialist sites – so you can get a large sample across the country, not just members) could be done to show those ISPs which have flagrantly misleading estimates, or give no estimates at all.


My understanding is that the broadband speed depends on these things . . .

1. Distance from the exchange. This information is available even if the customer does not already have broadband. There are published graphs that show how the speed reduces as the distance increases.

2. Exchange equipment. I believe that ADSL 2+ equipment at the exchange gives the fastest service. Not all ISPs have this equipment, but if they quote a speed to a customer they will know what equipment they will be using. Fibre optic connection will give a much faster service and the reduction of speed with distance is less.

3. Line quality. If the line between the house and the exchange is old, or has bad connections, or electrical noise sources nearby, then the speed will be less. The ISP can test the line and if defective, should get it repaired.

4. Householder’s equipment. If the modem router is connected as close as possible to the incoming telephone twisted pair the speed will be the fastest possible. If there is a lot of internal house wiring before the modem router, speed will be reduced. All BT phone sockets should have an ADSL filter, if they don’t, speed will be reduced. If the connection is by Wi-Fi the speed can be reduced if the distance between modem-router and PC is long, or passes through walls. A neighbour’s WiFi can interfere and electrical equipment in the house can also interfere. Changing the WiFi channel can help resolve these problems.

I believe that the ISP can predict an expected speed. If the actual speed is considerably less, then a process to determine the cause should be conducted. The customer should connect the modem router to the BT socket closest to the incoming connection; he/she should ensure all BT sockets have ADSL filters: he/she should connect the PC using an eathernet cable, then measure the speed. If it is significantly less than the figure quoted by the ISP, then it is likely that the BT phone line is defective.

Alan G says:
9 May 2014

Almost complete, the biggie you missed is contention. At quiet times I can get 16M on my “24M” line. But at busy times that drops to around 6-8M, mostly due to contention with my neighbours as we all fight for our share of the bandwidth. That’s one reason business BB costs more than consumer, the contention ratio (number of people sharing) is lower. (And of course some ISPs will throttle (or, as they say, manage) the bandwidth to “even out” the experience for all)

But a lot of the factors are weather related too, hot weather affects copper. as does cold weather.
The joints expand and shrink changing their electrical qualities. Noise sources come and go – for example road works somewhere along the route. That’s why speed checkers etc can never be more than an estimate, or more correctly an average. This stuff is not an exact science, it doesn’t operate under lab conditions. One reason fibre is more consistent is that it is inherently immune to many of the physical variables that afflict metal conductors.


Fair enough, but I suggest that the service you receive is marketed as 6 Mbps minimum. There is no misrepresentation and at times you could be a very happy customer.


Alan G, I agree, I missed contention. Apologies.

It may be because I don’t think I experience it. I frequently check the line speed and with a bit of variation it seems to be pretty constant.

Perhaps some ISPs have more contention that others, because they don’t invest as much. It would be interesting to know who the ‘bad ISPs” are, if I may call them that.

Could we do a survey? Anyone know how to do that with our readership?


Contention at the exchange has not been an issue for some time according to the technical forums.
However what does slow you down at peak times is how much bandwidth your ISP has purchased or provided between the exchange, its own servers and onwards.
Moving to a more expensive ISP may not improve your max download speed but it can have a big effect on your peaktime download speed.
I connect via TalkTalk’s LLU equipment at the exchange but use a reseller as ISP who provide their own support and bandwidth. My max download speed of 18Mbps doesnt drop at peak times, my neighbours with TalkTalk see a drop at peaktime.
Of course I pay more for this level of service.

FamilyGuy says:
9 May 2014

BT are providing FTTH for us and charging extortionate line rental fees for this as a condition of the contract. But if I have FTTH why do I need a line – surely the line rental should be scrapped – it can’t be for the new FTTH as the package cites this fee irrespective of whether it is FTTC or FTTH. Is this a scam to make the consumer pay an exorbitant amount of money for something which in our case we don’t need ?

Peter M says:
21 July 2014

When you say “extortionate”, just how much are you paying?

Also, if it is really so high, why did you go ahead with it?

I don’t know the exact details for FTTH, but assume that the situation is really just a part of the implementation not matching up with the technology. For other connections, the exchange line is essential (even if no calls are made) for the signals to reach the user, and there’s a not unreasonable cost for long term maintenance (the phone service generally is a more reliable utility than most others, and will continue to work during a power cut {where a cordless phone won’t – one reason for keeping a single old fashioned, cord phone in the house, just in case}.

However, I can see your query being reasonable, except that one assumes, for general situations of upgrading from a plain landline to FTTH, that calls to your existing number are still “expected”, and at present they don’t come via the fibre, which is only there for data. Long term it may change, and probably has done for some other firms like Hyperoptic, and so on, which fit fibre, and may have the voice call sent through the fibre, too.

Lawrence P says:
9 May 2014

When we were in Wandsworth we had BT infinity and had a super fast broadband and were achieving very fast speeds – on moving to Milton Keynes we took Superfast’ Fibre-optic broadband – up to 76 Mbps! from the Utility Warehouse in an 18 month contract, but we have been disappointed by the service. During the day on Thursday 8th May we had a download 39.59 mbps and upload of 9.90mbps, and on Friday 9th May at 10pm had a download of 30.55 mbps and upload of 9.87 mbps.

Looking at U Switch it would appear that we are getting BT Infinity Extra which boasts unto 38mb download speed – but we are not getting this in the evening.

We wanted Unlimited BT Infinity 2 which is the one that boasts up to 76 mbps (the one we had in London) and we feel cheated by the claims of Utility Warehouse, which are still being claimed today on their website – can we get out of this contract?


Hi Lawrence – do you have any paperwork from the initial stages of the contract that reference a speed? If you haven’t already, it might be worth talking to Utility Warehouse to set these issues out – well done on making a note of speeds at given times, if you were quoted 76mbps and are only getting c.30mbps that’s not really on. When did you take the contract out?

peter lorimer says:
9 May 2014

I know it’s my fault for living in the middle of nowhere. In August when the S. Yorkshire Digital Region fibre network is switched off I face a drop from 10 meg down and 1 meg up to .5 down and who knows what up. Back to the rubbish copper wires from Penistone exchange 5 miles away. Good eh?

Kennyeth says:
10 May 2014

Can you explain what this is that you mentioned as I too live in semi-rural S. Yorkshire and I have not heard anything about what you say??
“In August when the S. Yorkshire Digital Region fibre network”

Peter M says:
21 July 2014

South Yorkshire had a fast broadband project – see http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/i/6305.html and then do a search on page http://www.thinkbroadband.com/archive/1.html for “Yorkshire” to find more articles about the “Digital Region”.

Many millions of pounds was ploughed in, but a lack of new customers, poor marketing, established service from VirginMedia, or whatever else, caused it not to be a success, sadly.

I did look at going to S Yorks, to get higher speed broadband, but got very little useful information about where they served (I wanted a postcode list, so I’d buy somewhere already served, but they were slapdash in response to me and I feel lucky I didn’t move there now, though would consider locations with FTTC now, in, for example, Sheffield).

peter lorimer says:
10 May 2014

I believe everyone who will be affected by the DR switch off will have been contacted by their service provider. These providers are mainly smaller local South Yorkshire companies. Google ‘Digital Region closure’ for more information.


Here in rural France, many kilometres from the exchange, with old wires, I get between 1.5 and 2.0 Meg. I discovered that DLM or dynamic line management reduces line speed. I am informed that when first connected, it gradually increases line speed up to a point where errors occur, then it throttles back to allegedly give a better service.

I found that my line speed was marginal for streaming video, sometimes stopping frequently. So I asked the ISP to switch off DLM, It runs a bit faster, I can stream movies, and occasionally it goes wrong and I have to switch off the modem and turn it on again. I am happy with this situation, except for the rental, which is much higher than UK.

If you have low speeds, perhaps you might try asking your ISP to switch off your DLM. You can always get it switched on again.

Michael Duggleby says:
10 May 2014

It has taken me since January this year to get AOL admit that they are unable to give me the speeds that I should be getting. I changed to BT on the 1st May and have a regular speed of 5 mbps +/-. I changed to BT as they said these would be the speeds I would get. I have spend over £40. on phone calla to AOL, has their engineers out 2 times and Open reach 3 times. There was not fault on the line. The router was changed as well. In the lasr phone call I had with AOL I pressed them and after holding the line while they talked to Open reach engineers the result was ” The band width was not big enough” What ever this means, AOL have not been trueful and should have been honest enough at the out set to say they could not deliver. What were they costing me per month £26.00!!!!! This says everything. I intend to write to the Ombudsman about how I was treated. I did write to AOL but had no reply!!!

Yebow says:
10 May 2014

I am a Virgin Broadband Customer for last 10 years and I am facing the same problems, many times their Broadband speed is not what they said.
Every year they increasing their price higher and higher.
I used to get 20MB and they charged £40 per month.

Jeannette Richardson says:
10 May 2014

A nice easy win for Which. What about addressing a more difficult area of broadband provision?
Where the infrastructure means BT customers get DIRE speeds but are charged the same price as customers who can? Where people have little choice who provides the service and have to use BT? Come on Which lets see you tackle something we can really applaud – reducing the price for those customers.

Peter Lorimer says:
12 May 2014

Yes Jeanette R – some provision is a much more important issue than speed for those of us in rural locations. Whilst I have a little sympathy for those with speed issues, I have much more for those near to my house who can’t get any broadband signal from BT. It’s a shame they don’t spend the same (or more!) on provision as they seem to be spending on superfast speeds for some.
I support your call for Which to take this on board. Can we enlist Margaret Hodge to help? Her voice seems to be heard in important places!

G Hampton says:
13 May 2014

I was promised 32mb for Infinity from BT in writing and never achieved anywhere near this. Only ever got half, around 16/17mb after a whole year now. The engineer who came told me BT should never have promised this speed as our wires from the junction box to our house are copper.


Easy for me to say but. . . .did you ask them to more than halve the monthly charge?

John says:
13 May 2014

From past experiences I wouldn’t have you ‘know who’ as a gift. I’m in a small town and have ADSL2 I get 16-17meg and truly unlimited 24/7 on copper! Ask yourself why providers want to lock you in to a 12 or 18 month contract. Is it because once you find out it cr*p you’re locked in. Then if you complain they say you need to upgrade to their superior service.

Peter Lorimer says:
13 May 2014

John – I assume you are quite near to the exchange if you can get those speeds on ADSL2? I think I’ll be lucky to get any sort of speed on ADSL2 as I’m 5 miles from the exchange. An Openreach engineer told me ages ago that I’m on the poorer of the two lines that come into into our village.

perseus1947 says:
20 May 2014

Hello everyone, I am a new subscriber to Which and I hope you will find this post interesting, despite it being very lengthy, for which I aplogise

I started subscribing to Orange before they changed to EE from Orange & T-Mobile but as they now have I am assuming I am an EE customer and no longer with Orange, or so it appears.

Until recently I was extremely pleased with Orange/EE and any problem I had was resolved with the minimum of fuss, so much so that I advised friends & relatives to switch to Orange/EE, which some did.

I now have two issues with this company.

1) In Apr I enquired about the new superfast broadband now available to me and was informed that I would receive 74mbps plus. On the strength of this information I entered into a new 18 month contract with them to get the faster speed. At the time I was getting 18mbps via an ADSL connection.

Prior to signing up I explained that I used a wired desktop which required an adaptor in order for the signal to be transferred from the router to the adaptor & into my wired desktop and I also had a wireless laptop, Nook Tablet, Kindle & Internet access on my DVD Player. I was concerned about whether the fact that I had to use an adpator would slow down the speed on my desktop. I was assured that it would not.

On 26 Mar 14 my upgrade took effect and I found that not only was I not getting the speeds promised but was getting less than half on occasions. Equally sometimes I did get at least 74mbps but this was extremely rare and did not last for long.

I contacted EE who thought it was a router problem so they sent another one. This made no difference.

My wireless laptop was receiving even slower speeds.

Even after EE gained remote access and tweaked my router the problem still continued.

I put in a complaint and have spoken to EE on the phone, via online live chat and email but the problem still exists.

Recently I was told that because I use an adaptor (which is one of the best on the market) I am very unlikely to get the speeds promised. I told them that I had specifically asked about this prior to upgrading and was told it would make no difference to speed. I have since contacted other ISPs and have been assured that using an adaptor would not lower the speeds.

I then asked if using an adaptor on my wired desktop would limit my speeds why was it that my wireless laptop was poviding even slower speeds than my desktop?

No answer came the stern reply.

Yesterday I was told that the ‘up to’ 74mbps only applies if the desktop is permanently connected via an Ethernet cable.

When I explained that I am on very rare occasions receiving 74mbps on my desktop without the Ethernet cable installed he was unable to answer this question. The only time I have received 74mbps on my laptop is when an Ethernet cable is fitted.

I was told that the advisor I spoke to prior to upgrading should have informed me of this, but did not.

2) EE are offering a free years subscription to Norton 360 and a 2nd year at half price. So about two months ago I tried to download this software using the links provided by EE. On no occasion was I able to download this software and despite many emails, live online chats and phone conversations with both EE & Norton this problem has still not been resolved.

I have been given link after link in order to download the software and it always ends up at the same page which is blank except for the words ‘Online offer only’ in small print at the top left corner.

One advisor told me that I was the first person to tell them about being unable to download the software but another told me they had several subscribers contact them about it.

In my opinion EE/Orange have failed in their contractual obligations to firstly provide me the speeds promised, failing to give the information required prior to upgrading, especially regarding the need to have a permanent Ethernet connection & failing to provide the free software they advertise on their site.

I informed EE that I feel I have the right to cancely contract with them and use an alternative provider but they say that in their opinion they have provided the service they contracted to & if I cancel my contract arbitrarily I would be liable for a cancellation fee, which could cost me in £379.44 because I still have about 14 months of my contract with them outstanding.

I feel it extremely unfair that EE and other ISPs blatantly neglect to provide the correct information about what is required to attain the speeds they boast & it should be made law that they do.

Having used computers and the Internet for many, many years I am aware that there can be problems obtaining the speeds advertised. For example the distance of the router to the exchange and the number of users surfing the Interent, but to only get speeds of less than half that promised I feel is completely dishonest. In my case my BT exchange is less than a 1/4 mile away.

To offer free software and then not provide it as part of that contract is equally a failure to fulfil their obligations.

Finally on several occasions I have been told that I would be contacted by EE about the issues by phone but this never happens & I have to contact them again myself. That says a lot about whether they care about the problems I am having.

I would be really interested in reading your comments and/or suggestions as to what I should, or can do.

Thank you to all those who read this post, especially for your patience.


John (perseus1947)



Dont do anything until you have done this . . . .

Copy and paste your above post into an email and with a few words explaining that it is visible to thousands of people on the Which magazine conversation. Include the link to this page. Politely ask for his help. Challenge him to fix the problem to your satisfaction, so that you can post the resolution on the conversation.

Send the email to Mr Olaf Swantee CEO of Everything Everywhere.
His email is olaf.swantee@ee.co.uk

This information comes from http://www.ceoemail.com which I commend to everyone who has problems with a big organisation. Just go to the top. Why waste your time. The more emails from complaining customers to CEOs, the more likely they are to fix their internal failures.

If anything happens, please tell us here.

Good luck.


Hi John

Wow – what a terrible tale of customer service! It sounds like you were not given a lot of information you should have had at the outset. And ultimately, if you had had that information, I presume it would’ve impacted on your decision to “upgrade” your contract. I’m sorry you’ve had such a shocking experience with them. We will continue to press companies to let people out of their contracts in exactly the situation you describe, if you’re signed up to a contract on the basis of a certain speed you are entitled to expect to receive it. Either they should be providing you with a lot more accurate information at the outset, or they should be doing more to make sure you get the speed they offered you. I would suggest regularly recording the speeds you are getting, including making a note of the time of day, so that you have a body of evidence which suggests you’re never getting anywhere near the speeds they quoted. Do you have any paperwork from the start of the contract that mentions the speeds?

perseus1947 says:
20 May 2014

Hello Josh,

Thank you for your comments and especially for reading my ‘novella’

An excellent suggestion about recording dates, times & speeds of my speedchecks.

I use the BT SpeedTest Results (Wholesale) for my checks because it is reccomended by some, if not all ISPs. When the test is complete it can be sent to your ISP for their records but it is very sensible to record them personally too.

Since I uploaded my post here I contacted EE yet again and was told I could ask for my contract to be cancelled due to it having been mis-sold to me but I am not too hopeful because EE have altready said they do not consider that they have given me misinformation or neglected to inform me about everything. I have made a claim nevertheless. Time will tell.

It is those two innocent looking words ‘Up to’ which ISPs hide behind.

Ofcom have told me that ISPs do not have any obligation to tell potential subscribers about what speeds they are likely to actually get or about the need for a permanent Ethernet cable attachment.

Ofcom are pressing to get this changed but after three years nothing has been done by either the ISPs or the Government. No change there then!

As I upgraded via the phone I do not have anything in writing saying I will get 74mbps.

In my opinion not giving potential subscriber the full information is tantamount to fraud as far as I am concerned and I wonder what the outcome would be if someone took an ISP to court about their practices, legal though they may be.

Since upgrading I am paying £26.50 more for my Internet but with speeds not much faster than when I was using an ADSL connection.



I do sympathise with John [persius 1947] . There should be a legal guarantee imposed by the regulator in all of the terms and conditions laid down by these companies which states clearly that if they fail to meet their obligation to their customers they will agree to be held to account, and in cases such as Johns where you have signed up to a contract, opt out penalties should become null and void. They will argue and do everything in their power in the hope you will give up and go away which is what happens in a lot of cases. You need to be pretty resilient and forceful to get any satisfaction from some of these companies these days and the larger they get the more power they are able to exert on unsuspecting customers.

perseus1947 says:
20 May 2014

Hello Beryl,

Thank you also for reading my post and your reply.

I have just sent an email to my local MP about this issue, mainly because it affects countless millions of people using the Internet and they all appear to be being ‘ripped’ off. It is not just my ISP either it is all of them.

Whether he will ‘take up arms’ and do something about it remains to be seen. I will know because everytime he stand up and speaks in the House of Commons I get a transcript of what he says.

I think all will agree that we are not being troublemakers, simply want to be treated in a fair and respectful manner.

In my case I am made of sterner stuff and am not fobbed of lightly. When I feel there is a wrong I do everthing I can to get the wrong righted.

Perhaps if everyone who experience these problems (millions) contacted their MPs it is likely that it would be taken up and something would be done.


perseus1947 says:
22 May 2014

I have just received notification from Which saying that BT have been told by the ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) that their availability speedchecker must give accurate information about what speeds their subscribers should expect.

Although this is a step in the right direction I assume it only refers to BTs TV advertising campaign. So what about all the other ISDP who advertise phenomenal speeds?

This information can be read at:


The next step should, and must be that ALL ISPs must be required by law to give realistic figures to anyone who already subscribe to them and are thinking of upgrading or potential new customers.

At the moment ISPs use the two totally misleading and meaningless words ‘Up To’.

One of the Tech Support ‘experts’ from the ISP I use, EE/Orange told me that although they advertise that ‘up to’ a certain speed can be provided theoretically, depending on certain criteria such as distance from the exchange or the number of people using the Internet at a given time, the speeds could be as low as 1mbps. This also can apply to superfast users

What is required is that honest information must be given when inquiring about broadband speeds because even if we call an ISP on the phone or email them we are beoing told about the ‘Up to’ speeds and nothing about how realistic these figures really are, or in millions cases are not.

If potential upgraders or subscribers are not informed that these high speeds are only obtainable if an Ethernet cable is permanently installed in my opinion they are mis-selling their product and it is tantamount to fraud. In my case, and in millions of other cases having the Ethernet cable permanently installed is impractible, if not near impossible.


I live out in the sticks, and don’t have the luxury of ‘Superfast Broadband’, but am supposed to get 8mb/sec. And typically that is approximately what I do get. However for the past week I get just c. 2mb/sec (constant – even during the ‘silent hours’). Yet my BT Router states 7.938 mbps (this has been a constant since the service was installed – 3 years ago). Clearly the router is ‘fixed’ to report what BT want to be able to claim, and not accurately reflect the true connection speed. This figure is reported whether the router has been powered up/connected for months, or minutes

James Ballantyne says:
7 November 2014

Does the ASA ruling have any force in law?

What are the “acceptable ranges”, of service level.

“As a result, the ASA has told BT that its availability checker must provide accurate information.”
In the absence of numerical bounds this statement is useless and unenforceable.

Is there a lower limit?

BT claim to me today that it is 50% of the offered speed.

My case:

On 13 October 2014 the contract states:

Your broadband speed

We estimate your download speed will be 69.5Mb.
We estimate your upload speed will be 20Mb.

On 27October the measured supply was:

Supplied download speed of 35Mbps 50.03% of contract
Upload peed of 11Mbps. 55%of contract.

This has now been checked and tested by BT who say that is the maximum I can expect.

BT just squeeze in with a picric victory, using their own measure of “acceptability”.

Ian Lloyd says:
19 December 2014

Ah, So I’m not alone then!.. 🙂

BT amazingly, provided Infinity to my Cabinet, after many years of saying they would never do so.. Good so far… The Cabinet is only 800M down a main road, with only 20 houses in my hamlet.. The availability checker claimed I would get 62-65MB on my number.. Happy Days. I signed up, moving my Phone service back to BT along with the Infinity 2 package at £26 a month.
Installation went well, engineer turned up on time and fitted my Shiny new Fibre Powered Broadband.. Oh happy days….
But wait… Only 18MB showing on the first speedtest. All the normal stuff completed (extensions, wired connection, time of day accounted for), nothing would improve the speed… A complaint to BT and an Engineer turned up, On time, to do some ‘Stuff’.. He moved my connection in the Cabinet, and left saying that the speed would increase in the hours to a day, to something like the speed I was expecting… No change 1 week later.
Second complaint, and a second engineer proved that the Cabinet may be 800M away, but the Cable run to my house is 2.6km, so I am NEVER going to get anything more than the 22MB I was now seeing. Oh Misery….
BT Customer complaints could offer me 3 things
1) Cancel the contract, and they would ‘see’ if they could waive some of the near £400 in cancellation charges!.
2) Downgrade to Infinity 1 package for £3 a month less, but I would have to renew my 18 month contract, and potentially suffer further speed decrease.
3). Live with it.

No compensation for the 4 months I have been paying for a service I could NEVER receive (not even a refund of the £12 difference)
No explanation as to why their own website gets the ‘estimate’ so disasterously wrong.
When I told them I would not be accepting this as a resolution, they said they would pass the complaint to the Review board, who would contact me within 10 Days….. I wait to see what they say…

My worry is that I could never have received the service I bought, on the basis of the information they provided. I understand that the estimate cannot be guaranteed, but the same site also claims that the estimate is usually correct to with a couple of MB.. I am left feeling like BT have defrauded me, and will get away with it…

I will report back with any news after Christmas…………….

vangleen says:
1 February 2015

Never mind the speed checker I put in my postcode and tel no and it came back I could get infinity one of the best deals was BT three months later and having a second line installed all for broadband I still haven’t got broadband and its still ongoing.

Graeme says:
27 March 2015

I have spent an hour on the phone to BT today regarding upload speeds. We have purchased cloud storage 1tb. We have 229gb to upload and synch to ensure data security. Our average upload speed is 0.2mbps across all tests. I have taken BT to task over this as they say they only guarantee download speed. I tested the speeds across a number of broadband test sites including USwitch and BTwholesale. On the worst result the test came back as said there was a fault with the connection (0mbps), on the best we averaged 0.3mbps upload. Download speeds are average at 3mbps and standard broadband.

BT’s operative said that the upload speed was dependent on the ability of the equipment doing the upload. This was unfortunate for the BT operative, as the PC being used was only purchased on the 19th of March 2015, with a 2tb HDD, Gb wireless adaptor, Gb NIC, 8gb of memory and an i5 quad core processor with 3mb cache. Specifically because our old laptop would have been geologically slow.

I had to explain to the BT operative that between the PC and the BT Hub we are averaging 74mbps, and that the telephone cable to the house is new (as is the connection), and that we are approx 400mtrs from the exchange, and that all the infrastructure between us and the exchange and the service provided to us belongs to BT. The BT operative seemed to be confused by the fact that the company he works for effectively owns the entire core Public Service Telephone Network infrastructure in the UK and tried to make some comparison with EE, and Virgin. At this point I was quite terse.

The BT operative told me that BT had no way of managing upload speeds and that it wasn’t their responsibility. I asked how this was possible when the infrastructure and the service (ISP) is BT? The operative couldn’t explain what he meant. So I explained how a PSTN works, and it’s analogues to a corporate Voip networks across multiple sites blah blah blah. The operative reiterated the point that BT are not responsible for upload speeds, and that the sending equipment is the arbiter of upload speed, and things started to go in ever increasingly angry circles.

The point of all this is: That with the advent of Domestic Cloud storage services being taken up by the many as insurance against home equipment failure. Then BT can expect people like me, to be requiring an initial bulk upload way in excess of the usual requirements for short sustained period (and especially if they are on unlimited broadband basis). Subsequent to this bulk upload, data transfers should level off.

However 229gb at 0.2mbps is going to take better than two months to upload at .2mbps, if the PC is set to be `always on’ in power management, and the hub is left on all the time. To illustrate the point it takes approximately 21 minutes to copy the same volume of data from an internal hard drive to an external hard drive over a USB 3 connection (Those are standard drives not SSD). Of course I appreciate that between me and BT’s data centre there are a number hops (and a fair it of that will be copper, and there are numerous network layers added to the data to get it from A to B). So the transfer should slower, however 21 minutes is 0.016 of a percent of 126720 minutes (being the approximate 88 days to complete the initial data transfer), and all the while I am being charged for broadband and cloud services. For veracity: at upload rates of approximately 3mbps, the 229gb transfer would still take around 11 days.

Call me cynical, but to my mind it feels like BT have concentrated their download offering (streaming etc), by borrowing huge chunks of upload bandwidth, and or throttling back upload packets to allow smoother download. Either way, you end up paying for a pig in poke, if you subscribe to a cloud service. And of course while all this background uploading is occurring, it’s tying up PC internal recourse and broadband resource. Meaning that everything else you do is impacted. I actually suggested to the BT operative, that it would be quicker for me to take my external Hard Drive to their data centre copy its contents to onto the cloud storage than it is to use the internet.

For myself I have brow beat the initial BT Operative into submission and have been escalated to a next level of support that didn’t exist for at the first half an hour I was on the phone … I’m say the initial BT operative consistently lied to me. The second person I spoke to has said that they will try to reset the line over the next 4 hours, though the result may take up to 48 hours. Anecdotally there is evidence to suggest that via BTWholesale, there is a method of `Training’ the service to accommodate higher upload speeds, however I have not as yet investigated this aspect.

BT are selling a service they can’t provide. And I imagine that many people call BT to say that their cloud service is rubbish and get fobbed off, and take it no further, this would appear to be the case if you scan the BT self help forums. Upload and download are two sides of the same coin, and BT needs to recognise that decent download speed is only half the service.

Clare Lang says:
13 May 2015

I’m having the same issues, took out BT Infinity 2 due to estimated speeds given:

We estimate your download speed will be 64.4Mb.
We estimate your upload speed will be 18.5Mb

On average i’m getting 30+, max ever 42 down. 11 max up.

I’m not happy BT are getting away with these misleading numbers, they are trying to say they are within acceptable range but I’m trying to push for cancellation of contract.

The Fibre was installed on 10/4/15.