/ Technology

Which? is supporting Ofcom’s Boost Your Broadband campaign

We’re supporting Ofcom’s new campaign to help consumers get the best broadband deal possible – and we want to know your broadband horror stories… 

At Which? we have long been talking about the problem of bad broadband. It’s now an essential service, yet many people continue to be blighted by slow speeds and connection drop outs.

That’s why we’re happy to support Ofcom’s new Boost Your Broadband campaign, which helps consumers get the connection that best suits their needs.

The trouble with broadband

In my view the problem with broadband is two-fold; firstly that consumers aren’t able to access adequate connections.

Compare: broadband, phone and TV packages

This is a problem due to the lack of infrastructure, which tends to disproportionately affect people living in rural areas. We won’t stop campaigning on that.

The second issue is that consumers often aren’t on the right connections for them – it’s difficult navigating a complex market filled with jargon to get the right deal.

There have been significant efforts from government and communication providers to roll out superfast broadband across the UK – by upgrading some standard connections to fibre cables.

Yet Ofcom figures show that whilst 94% of UK homes and offices can now get superfast broadband, less than half have taken it up.

Paying more for less

Our latest research showed that most customers have been with their broadband providers for at least three years, meaning their introductory deal has probably ended.

Our analysis of broadband deals found this could leave consumers paying an average of 15% more than a new customer – but it some cases the price increase could be as great as 89%.

If customers don’t negotiate with their provider for a better deal, they could end up paying more for the same connection over time (no thanks to the price rises we’ve seen from some providers) – a quarter of the 7,000 broadband customers we surveyed had experienced a price rise in the past 12 months.

The irony here is that consumers can be left paying more money for a connection that’s inferior to what is available in their area.

I don’t blame consumers. They’ve been left jaded by a confusing advertising landscape that included “up to” speeds until earlier this year, plus an array of different words and messages that makes it hard to know what you need.

Get informed

We are pleased to see the regulator helping to get consumers informed – we are supporting their information campaign alongside consumer champion Gloria Hunniford OBE and the Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The Boost Your Broadband campaign aims to demystify the broadband market, particularly for people who might be daunted by the choice on offer. You can find out key information to help you make the right decision for you and your home on their website.

Are you aware of the type of connection you’re on? And would you know how to find out if a better one is available? Do you have any broadband horror stories?

Comments

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Duncan – I think the point of Ofcom’s new Boost Your Broadband initiative is that the government, and to varying extents, the service providers have provided faster broadband to a high percentage of premises, including businesses based in people’s homes, but take-up has only been fifty percent.

I read earlier today that to some degree this reflects the fact that many customers are satisfied with the speed they are getting for the limited purposes for which they need broadband; we are in that category.

Some customers do not know that higher speeds are available – although I find that hard to believe judging by the number of flyers and phone calls that come in trying to entice us to switch to a faster fibre connection.

Many people are put off by the confusion over tariffs, bundles, introductory offers, terms & conditions, and other variables, and are afraid of possible disruption to their computer use or entertainment. That is the group that Ofcom and Which? wish to reach.

Although upgrading to fibre is usually promoted as being “at no extra cost” [although a new eighteen month contract is usually involved], people are apprehensive that after the initial contract any renewal would be at a significantly higher tariff.

I agree with you that there are still going to be gaps in coverage that will not be filled by commercial companies because the likely returns would not justify it. I suspect that, like mobile phone signal coverage, the government will eventually have to step in and finalise the superfast fibre roll-out but at the moment there is an element of brinkmanship involved.

I also agree that it was a lost opportunity not to capture some of the commercial revenues that have accrued to numerous massive corporations that have taken advantage of the faster broadband network to push their streaming content down the cables at little development or input cost to themselves.

It’s for the government to sort out, unfortunately we have a rubbish one at the moment. It the same answer wether it’s broadband, mobile phone signal or DAB radio, it’s just for cities … the low hanging fruit as the salesmen call them. Until it’s law to give the service to everyone they won’t do it. Oh and another bit, your email address isn’t transferable so keeping you with the present supplier.

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Les Reed says:
21 December 2018

Convo?

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TalkTalk provide fast fibre connections but as an addition to the contract. They advertise “fibre connection” but then charge more for “fast fibre”.

14 December 2018 / Technology
Which? is partnering with Ofcom to boost your broadband

Whilst I see in the article much use of “support” I cannot see any detail of the partnership [ and partnership terms] that the headline mentions. Is the headline misleading?

Patrick, thank you for pointing this out. You are correct, the word should be ‘supporting’ – I’ve now changed it.

I am very happy with my FTTP broadband service, which provides the 76Mbps service I pay for.

The Which? speed checker could do with updating. After taking the test, users are asked what speed their service provider advertises and the options listed include ‘up to’ speeds. Since the efforts of Which? helped consign these to the history books and replaced with average speeds, perhaps Which? should update the service.

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Phone rings- This is BT, there is a fault on your broadband, press 1 to speak to the engineer, 2 to check fault.
This has now been automated, THIS IS A SCAM–I have spoke to BT -it is in the hands of the fraud team, they are working on it, This has been going on with me for over a month, HERE are the PHONE nos they use,
21856773283– 01571557859–07905119773– 0015025765600–0769518149–001484654682–01609357740-
01282721103–0011672651801–01788277703–07747794698–07802693604–01380523421–0012852551139-
01330036510–07747794697–0200415503– 07864268780–0180324035. Why carnt BT do more ??, than give me lip service YOU can Block these no by pressing –1572 on your land line- listen to it, it will say press 1 and it will say that the last no was blocked , this is BT. – After all this time , I would have thought that BT SHOULD have SORTED this SCAM by now, SO come on “WHICH”, you can get this Sorted out.

Dave

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This comment was removed at the request of the user

Our broadband at this address is slower than dial up we had at our old address years ago, this was upgraded to broadband which was brilliant. then after we moved we were shocked at how bad the broadband is. complaining does no good & we are charged the same for a shockingly bad service as a good service. All this talk of superfast fibre we would be happy with normal broadband
our own fault for moving to a remote area I guess

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Great idea but what if you do not live in a village and your mobile signal is more or less non existent

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my nearest fibre cabinet is a mile away so even at fibre broad prices i can only get 32 m/bs which is better than i was getting with bt plus the service was poor.

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Superfast Broadband is available in my area it goes right past my house but I cannot access it as I am connected directly to the exchange and Open Reach say I cannot get it. It is very frustrating as I left my email address 2/3 years ago to say I would have it as soon as it was available but as yet I am still waiting. I switched to BT for Broadband as I was told that if I had a stable line after 72 hours I could get connected but got nothing !! lied to again.

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I am not and IT ‘expert’, nor am I seeking the ‘Nth’ degree of speed for gaming or video streaming, never doing the former and only rarely indulging in the latter, such as for i-Player and the occasional YouTube video. However, over the past six years I have had three service provider, TalkTalk (which we inherited with the property purchase and which I soon abandoned because of its appalling customer service) Sky (which I upgraded to Fiber part way through the contract and with which I was 100% pleased, apart from escalating charges) and, very recently, a change to First Utility which is showing a base saving of around £15 per month against the Sky contract. Each of my contracts has included ‘Anytime’ landline calls too. Nominally, I pay for a 40mbs download service, although a recent ‘spot check’ indicated around 28 mbs download, but I don’t bother speed checking that often. In pure practical terms, however, the speed seems to be OK, both via the Ethernet connection to my desktop pc and via ‘wireless’ to portable devices.

I have also looked into buying a faster service with Virgin cable which some of my neighbours enjoy, but, ironically, Virgin starts at No.10 on our road, but nos. 1 to 9 (us!) don’t have that service, as yet that is, according to Virgin.

My main complaint with all the utilities providers, however, is that there is absolutely no recognition of customer loyalty, that is until one threatens to not renew or to terminate a contract. It is bizarre that one can quit a service, then re-apply and make a substantial saving, (applies typically to car and household insurance contracts too of course). It has to occurs to one that consumers would be far better served by legislation which would prohibit the present ‘rip-off’ culture imposed upon existing customers, often quite unwittingly to them if they are not vigilant about increases to their Direct Debits, to offset ‘lost leader’ offers devised to trap new customers into contracts which the industry hopes will then, by default, keep those contract running at higher eventual costs to their clients.

In short, we should pay for what we get and get that for which we pay. However, we are locked into a form of insidious dishonesty which, by default, is afforded approval by a seriously flawed current systems.

I’m with a Which recommended ISP. It’s not the cheapest but the customer support and technical support are excellent. I keep getting “You can get cheaper Internet” adverts. True, but I’m willing to pay a bit more for good service. I upgraded to an “Up to 40 MB” FTTC service and I get 39.9 so no complaints.

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Grumpy old man says:
21 December 2018

I’m very much in favour of increasing broadband speed and even more in favour of increasing reliability and reducing cost. One point for everyone to note is the simplistic use of postcodes. e.g. on our street – people on one side of the road have access to cable and all the speed/reliability that that *might* imply – whereas those of us on the other side of the street pay similar costs for “wet rope” speed and reliability.

I’ve just paid my provider £50 for a better WiFi, in all honesty I can’t tell the difference.

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BT recently installed high speed fibre in our village and it’s superb. However, me as a Plusnet customer can’t have it. They say it’s exclusive to BT. Meanwhile Plusnet say I am under contract still ( after over 8 years) and would have to pay to leave. I get up to 3mb speed, but that drops off regularly to less than 1mb and even drops out altogether. What’s going on? Plusnet are owned by Bt. Ghastly company in my experience.
D Jarmey

Bernard Harvey says:
21 December 2018

Hello, I am with plusnet and after seeing the fibre cabinet installed about 200 yards from my property I asked plusnet if I could change to fibre optic. They said no initially but then agreed to connect me on a trial basis. I opted for the 76mb with fibre to the property. This was nearly five years ago. It works great compared to the 1mb I used to get. I have had a phone call for the last couple of years from plusnet asking how my broadband is. I say the fibre is great. However they tell me I am not on fibre as it is not available in my area. I can’t convince them I am on fibre. My daughter who lives next door to me just a few yards away has tried to get fibre from plusnet on a couple of occasions, but they say it is not available in the area. The mind boggles. However it does make you wonder that BT might well have the rights to the fibre cabinet for a set time after the cabinet has been installed.

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Why waste your time on having an email with your broadband/fibre supplier when there are Google/Microsoft for free?

Watch out though, Google (gmail) reads your emails and harvests your data for marketing purposes (e.g. ad targeting, see http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/28/all-the-data-facebook-google-has-on-you-privacy)

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I use a Microsoft e-mail service and do not seem to experience any advertisement targetting or any other interference. I also use Google Chrome as a browser on my laptop and am not aware of any unwanted marketing approaches. Perhaps my internet activity is beneath their radar.

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Every organisation I deal with has my data, Duncan – it’s what they do with it that matters and so far as I can see the internet companies do not do anything unwelcome with what they know about me. People who excessively expose themselves on the internet might have something to worry about, so my advice to people would be: Contain Yourself. [As ye sow so shall ye reap]

As a gmail user, my experience is that using gmail does not involve the receipt of any adverts, targeted or otherwise.

In my computer buddy role, some of my “customers” use Yahoo email and those mail pages feature part-page adverts.

Sir Hardleigh Abel says:
21 December 2018

There is no need for any fuss or chest beating………..
THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE……..ALL CONTRACTS MUST EXPIRE ON THE DATE ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED. THERE WOULD BE NO ROLLING OVER.
This would mean that at the end of each contract period, the. Customer would have to be offered a NEW contract by his existing supplier, and would be free to switch to a new supplier, and take his/her existing email address with them. A MAXIMUM PERIOD OF 7 DAYS WOULD BE ALLOWED FOR THIS TO BE COMPLETED, and heavy penalties involving various periods of completely FREE access to the old contract would apply for failure to implement any changeover. THIS SHOUD CONCENTRATE THE MINDS OF THE EXISTING SUPPLIERS WONDERFULLY.

I am currently with BT for my Fibre Broadband. I have the 70 mb package. I would love to change provider, but no other providers offer Fibre Broadband in my area. I live in the city of Chester, so I don’t understand why I can’t get other options from the likes of Sky etc.

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Hi Duncan, I followed your link and read all the details. The info was brilliant, but unfortunately none of the deals that come up on your checker are actually available to me. I entered my post code, selected the Fibre option and chose the supplier as Sky. The search engine came up with numerous offers, but when I was redirected to either the Sky or Now websites, none of the offers were available. Each time I entered my postcode they said that Fibre was unavailable. I don’t understand this as I currently have Fibre with BT. I am currently approx 1.5 miles from the centre of Chester. There are others in my street who also have Fibre with BT.

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Hi again Duncan. I have been on the Openreach website. My area is called Chester South. The Cabinet Number is 90. Apparently it says I can get FTTP to the Premises service. They do list some obscure providers, seven in total, all of which are designed for Business and are very expensive. I have had my BT Fibre since 2015, so 3 years in total. It was installed in November 2013. I just don’t understand why I can’t get a competitive alternative provider. So much for customer choice and switching for a better deal. Cheers Duncan, have a very merry Christmas. Regards. John

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This comment was removed at the request of the user

I have just switched from postoffice to plusnet and because I have had technical problems they have been brilliant in dealing with the situation and now also I am moving after christmas they have already sorted out my new broadband and line along with my number and start ing day which is the same day I move and there prices are good

Fat Steve says:
21 December 2018

I ran on copper cable for a number of years. My nearest cabinet (as far as I know) is circa 1/2 mile from the house. I upgraded through Plusnet to fast fibre and was guaranteed a minimum of 27 mbs. My desktop runs on an extension cable, where I was getting circa 20 mbs. I contacted Plusnet and followed their instruction to connect my Router to the main socket and now achieved 23.odds mbs, I then unscrewed the front cover of the main socket and plugged my router into the Master socket and now achieved 29 mbs. If I was able to leave my Router in that location, I would still have to add an extension lead to my desktop and probably lose some speed. I can honestly say, I don’t feel much better off with the 20 mbs I am receiving through the Fast fibre.

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I live in a city and am at the end of the line from the exchange. No fibre optic here (unless you use Virgin which has the monopoly and the price to match) So no choice with all other providers, unless you are happy with 1.5mb and less speed. I have been asking BT/Openreach for 7 years now about possible upgrade to fibre in my part of the city. No idea of planned roll out has always been the answer. So it is not just rural areas that suffer unfortunately. If i use a provider giving slow speeds I still am expected to pay the same as far faster speeds a few miles away.