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Win! Broadband providers are dropping exaggerated ‘up to’ speed claims

In a Which? campaign win, broadband companies are being forced to drop the unrealistic up to speeds they advertise following rule changes.

For too long, many consumers have been taking out broadband deals but getting speeds much slower than were advertised to them. But our latest research shows that’s now changing.

Previously, suppliers were able to advertise broadband deals which claimed ‘up to’ speeds that only one in 10 customers would ever reach.

But after our sustained campaigning, pressure from our supporters and rule changes from the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) in May, some suppliers have now reduced advertised broadband speeds by as much as 41%.

New rules

The new advertising rules mean that at least half of customers must now be able to get an advertised average speed, even during peak times (8-10pm).

We’d been calling for these vital new guidelines to be introduced since 2013 through our Broadband Speed Guaranteed campaign.

We’ve now found that 11 out of 12 major suppliers have had to cut the advertised speed of some of their deals by an average 15%.

BT, EE, John Lewis Broadband, Plusnet, Sky, Zen Internet, Post Office, SSE, TalkTalk and Utility Warehouse previously advertised their standard (ADSL) broadband deals as ‘up to 17Mbps’. The new advertised speed is now more than a third lower at 10Mbps or 11Mbps.

TalkTalk has completely dropped advertising speed claims from most of its deals. While Vodafone has even changed the name of some of its deals: Fibre 38 and Fibre 76 are now Superfast 1 and Superfast 2.

And only Virgin Media’s advertised speeds have gone up since the change.

What’s next?

Alex Neill, our Managing Director of Home Services, said:

“Customers will now have a much clearer idea of the speeds that can be achieved when they are shopping around for broadband – even though their broadband won’t get any faster.

“With the change in advertising rules now showing the true landscape of broadband speeds, the Government must press ahead with its crucial plans to increase full-fibre availability and deliver the service that broadband customers need, without it costing them the earth.”

Have you bought a broadband package that hasn’t lived up to the speeds advertised? Have you noticed a change in how providers are advertising speeds?

Comments
Guest
matthew says:
17 August 2018

my sky broad band download is 4.3 , the upload is 0.6, is this good or bad ?

Guest

It sounds like you live far from the street cabinet or are a rural customer/ not off a FTTC but your figures have no meaning Matthew until I get more location info from you .I dont want your exact address but I need to know the area /neighbourhood before I can supply a “good or bad ” comment.

Guest
duncan lucas says:
17 August 2018

Matthew – I cant tell if that is good or bad till I get more locational info from you -the neighborhood you live in , not your actual address and whether you have FTTC or not as well as the distance from the street cabinet .

Guest
Keith Paterson says:
18 August 2018

That is a particularly slow upload speed which will make even emailing photographs a bit of a pain. But upload is always a fraction of download. On this test with a connected PC, using virgin I got over 100 mb/ s download and just 5 mb/ s upload. I only pay for the minimum speed Virgin offers

Guest
ryan says:
31 August 2018

this wifi is amazing for fortnite

Guest
Brock Chisholm says:
2 September 2018

This seems to be a new way around the broadband speed falsity.
We have recently started a contract with Utility Warehouse (a Best Buy Which rated ISP provider). They promised speeds of 40-60MBs.
In reality, via their router provided, we get 14-17MBps.
According to Utility Warehouse, and I have no reason not to believe them, we are getting that to our property.
But… their standard router provided, that Which rates as pretty poor, is in fact so poor that to get any kind of decent speed you are forced to upgrade to their better router. When I plugged in an old BT HuB5 (that seems to only connect to my laptop and now to no other device after I cancelled my BT contract, but thats another story) I immediately got speeds of 36MBps. Since this router doesn’t work with any other device I was forced to upgrade to Utility Warehouse better router at £25.50 to get the speed promised to me, since

It is not possible to actually get near their promised speed using wifi with the equipment they provided.
Utility Warehouse may still be a good provider, but I felt duped into paying for their better router, because without it, the speeds are very poor.
If they had included this in the original order and been upfront that with the equipment provided you get half the promised speed I wouldn’t have felt conned into upgrading my router.

Guest

Brock I am still using a HH5 never upgraded to HH6 as I dont use wi-fi just a LAN cable and I get good speeds . Your right its a con to sell routers from the same company that are so much different in performance , BT sells one router at a time upgrading over the years , they dont sell a “standard model ” at a cheap price nor a “super duper ” high speed shiny router at a high price , they are consistent in providing one model to customers which is the latest one available . HH6 is well advertised as one of the best wi-fi routers in the UK at the price . I dont understand why its only your laptop that gets wi-fi from the HH5 other than the other gadgets haven’t been programmed into the HH5 , they should work I should know I have one, its just a matter of getting them to connect. It can be done automatically by your computer by initiating the services.

Guest

I recently (July 2018) moved from a 32Mbps BT broadband to Vodafone Superfast 2 (notionally 76Mbps). VF guaranteed minimum download speed was 55Mbps. According to the VF supplied App I am getting a sync speed of 53 – 59 Mbps at any time of the day/night – using the Which broadband speed check I actually get (during the day) about 45 – 50Mbps. However, during the evening ‘peak’ this dramatically drops to between 4 and 9 Mbps. Is this acceptable? At times the connection is so slow my email server times out!!! (In order to achieve the guaranteed sync speed Openreach have had to reroute and reposition the main socket alongside the VF router by installing a new line from their box in the garden (at my expense).)

Guest

Well your asking the right man Ian –NO ! its certainly not acceptable . What has happened is a copy of VM -we cable your street – offering fantastic speeds BUT what they do to make more profit is crowd their fibre cable so that speed drops drastically due to congestion ( noise/overhearing /etc ) during peak periods . What you had with BT was a Guarantee of a minimum speed –mine is 69 Mbps minimum then compensation clicks in I dont think VM offer that also BT will allow you to leave them if your speed CONSISTENTLY is below the bundle contracted for without loss of finance or offer to downgrade to a slower bundle. The old saying “all that glitters is not gold ” applies here . For those disbelievers how about VM,s OWN website read disgruntled customers with one saying exactly what I said overcrowding and they admit BT doesn’t allow that. https://community.virginmedia.com/t5/Speed/Slow-speeds-in-peak-hours/td-p/3337837 This is why I am a BT customer -not perfect but more straight forward with you. You will gather that they don’t have the same contract conditions as BT from the posts . Having checked Vodaphone,s community website its no different though they say “guaranteed minimum speed ” you get -sorry webpage under repair they give -191 if you want to complain — then read the first post which agrees with me https://forum.vodafone.co.uk/t5/Broadband-Home-Phone/Fix-for-your-slow-Vodafone-Fibre-Broadband/td-p/2561769 if their excuse is its your local cable from the box in the garden –did they come into your house to verify that ? I ran cat4E cable all the way from the router direct to the external joint , positioning the master socket 1 foot from my PC so BT could not use that as an excuse . So you are saying even after that its still slows down well that just proves my point.

Guest
DerekP says:
26 September 2018

Ian, as Duncan says, if VF have guaranteed low get 55Mbps (or more) and your speed is dropping to 4Mbps at times, they’re clearly failing deliver what you contracted them to do.

If you line will run at 59Mbps sometimes and only 4Mbps at others, then I doubt that the problem has anything to do with your wiring or with Openreach’s connection to your house.

I’d guess that VF have oversold their actual capacity over Openreach’s network. At least in Swindon (if not elsewhere) Virgin used to do that too…

If further complaints to VF don’t solve your problems, you may need to cancel their contract and try another supplier.

Guest

Many thanks for your very helpful comments. I will have another “discussion” with VF tomorrow so attempt to progress this. Interestingly a friend in the same village (same BT exchange but different street cabinet) is very pleased with his VF broadband.

Guest

Thank you. Initially the actual wiring in the house was causing a problem. Some of it was 50+ years old and had been extended and rerouted from the master socket to the extension where the router was located. VF organised Openreach to check out the circuit and discovered the sync speed at the master socket was 50 Mbps and at the extension where the router was located had dropped to 35 Mbps. Openreach ran a new cable from the pole in the garden and installed a replacement master socket (filtered socket – no external filters required anywhere in the house) where the router is located replacing the original master socket with a standard Openreach normal socket. The new sync speed is varies between 53 and 59 Mbps)

Guest

it depends on the number of customers on the other cable Ian it might have fewer customers ,each cable from each cabinet to the exchange is independent of each other.

Guest

Thanks for the info Ian that would explain the initial drop in speed , 50 year old wiring has a high resistance , I updated many homes with more modern “6 wire ” instead of the old red/black/green ” 3 wire ” even older stuff was cloth covered .

Guest
Valerie says:
26 September 2018

Thanks for following this up. I have been in touch with my provider. The fibre connection has now been in place for just under a week, so I wait to see what happens.

My provider has allocated a specific person for me to deal with, so as a first stage I will take any questions up with that person.

Guest

After almost 6 months of complaining, engineer visits, fixes (failed) I have given up on my fixed line. I managed to get John Lewis to cancel the contract without penalty and have installed a 4G system. Despite being right on the edge of 4G and 3G coverage with poor coverage on my iPhone, I am now getting a consistent 10 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up, and that’s before I fit an external antenna.
Packages for data are now much more affordable and I’m managed to get UNLIMITED data for £25 a month! I bargain I think!

Guest

Wise move Adamget as over 90 % of the UK now has at least the minimum requirement trying to up that to 100 % via underground cable in the UK is futile in an engineering sense due to many major problems involved .

For those disagreeing —name me ANY country in the world with 100% broadband provided by landline means ???
That includes America where they are more realistic about engineering and provide other means of passable broadband speed , even the much vaunted Norway doesn’t have total broadband via underground cable .
Many South American countries have most of their broadband via satellite -then fibre at remote relay stations so its still satellite provided.

Guest

Given the relative ease of deploying technologies like this and wimax I do wonder what OpenReach are spending all those billions of Govt. money (our money) on…

Guest
DerekP says:
8 November 2018

I bet small countries like Monaco can easily manage 100% coverage for land line broadband 😀

Guest

Can manage Derek as opposed to reality where satellite and wireless broadband exist in Monaco ?

Guest
DerekP says:
8 November 2018

I couldn’t find any coverage data for Monaco, but given its small size, I bet there’s nowhere that buildings cannot have landline connections. (And, btw, the way, there are other small countries too, so I think I correctly exposed the fallacy of your previous (rhetorical?) claim.)

Mobile broadband would obviously exist too, not least for use by smart phones.

Guest

Unlike your efforts with your (I take it Google search engine ) I got many Monaco ISP,s , well actually 5 and you ignored the fact I said _SATELLITE-WIRELESS where did I say Mobile ??

So you are imposing/implying words into my mouth I did not say.
PROVE what I said was a fallacy name me a COUNTRY with 100 % underground cable broadband -not via satellite as South America
but 100 % land line equipment/exchange originated nor via HF wireless dishes ?

Guest

Derek and Duncan, let’s try and keep this discussion civil, please. Thanks!

Guest
DerekP says:
8 November 2018

Sorry Oscar.

Duncan – sorry – I thought you were talking about the possibility for providing land-line coverage to 100% of the customers in any country and not the resulting market segmentation that you’d have alongside other systems, where available.

I’d agree with you that, under free market systems, I’d be very surprised if there would ever be a country where only a single means of broadband were provided.

That said, I thought it was relevant to mention mobile broadband because the OP mentioned 4G – i.e. mobile broadband – at the outset of the thread – as his alternative to broadband via the land-lines in his area.

On other threads, I’d also commented previously that, for at least some of those who live in densely populated areas, with good 4G or 5G (etc.) coverage, all other forms of broadband may soon become irrelevant and I think the OP’s comments bear that out. After all, if you can take your broadband everywhere you go via your mobile, why bother having an additional connection just at home?

Guest

Iran has the cheapest broadband Derek $5.37/month even Finland where its a legislated right for every citizen to have broadband it still isn’t fully landline driven .

Even Communist China uses 3G/4G so personally I dont know of any country where the government supplies 100 % of broadband and pays for it–do you ?

Its a capitalist world even in socialist countries.

Guest
DerekP says:
8 November 2018

Duncan,

I agree with you that, under free market systems, I’d be very surprised if there would ever be a country where only a single means of broadband were provided.

Guest
graham says:
14 November 2018

I am at the end of an 18 month contract with BT. I was offered a ‘free’ upgrade to 67 mb superfast broadband for this contract. My contract ends on 22 nov 18. I was thinking that I don’t need such fast download speed now as less users in house. I also checked my download speed at the router and I got 35 mb. I checked the BT website for new customers to see what they offer. I put in my address and BT only offer super fast at 50MB and 36MB as it states I can only get speeds up to 40MB. Spoke to BT about renewing and they wouldn’t offer either of these options, I had to stay at 67MB even though it is not achievable! All they would say is that these options may be available on 22 nov the last day of my contract. I don’t see why I should pay more for an option that I won’t get. I have complained but don’t hold out much hope as it is probably the computer systems making the decisions!

Guest

A few points Graham BT continues to provide you with service even when your contract has ended , I should know I was out of contract for a few years but I was presented with an offer “I could not refuse ” .
Speeds quoted are “top end ” and BT adverts now say it depends on various engineering factors including home equipment . Its when below the bottom of the range is continuously reached that you can downgrade /leave BT at no cost to yourself.

Broadband packages now include various conditions as to what BT will provide you with , I have the top end one so was offered a good deal. You don’t have to do anything at present just wait till your contract runs out service will continue on a “month to month ” type service just like renting a home after your agreement runs out .

Tell me what BT bundle you are on at present and I will check up ways of improving it .

Guest

We have broadband from BT and used to get 35Mbs download. BT offered a personal deal in the form of an upgraded service based on fibre-optics for a small increase in our monthly payment. I checked it out and found that this was not possible at my address as there is no fibre-optic connection between the local junction box and my address. The only thing that happened was that our download speed dropped to fractionally below 27Mbs.

BT has recently again offered me an upgrade package for an extra £2 per month over 18 months. As an illustration of the deal they tell me that my current service (SUPERFAST FIBRE ! UNLIMITED) provides an average of 50Mb download speed – almost twice what I’m actually getting under that package. They describe the upgraded package as SUPERFAST FIBRE PLUS which they say offers an average 67Mbs download. However, in the smaller print it says “You should get download speeds of 25Mps to 39Mbs. I checked again with BT and they confirmed that the last link in my connection still has not been upgraded to fibre-optic. Any talk of an improved service is, therefore, totally fanciful. Moreover, what I’m told I should be getting provides a mean figure of 32 Mbs which is not far from the 35 Mbs which I used to get before they started tinkering around

Given that companies offering broadband services are now required to be more open and honest about the stark reality of what they are offering, I’m intrigued as to how a service on which they say I should get 25Mbs to 39 Mbs can be truly described as offering an average of 67 Mbs download speed. It’s my opinion that they don’t know what they’re talking about and must take us for absolute mugs.

To add insult to injury, they made me precisely the same useless upgrade offer as a special Black Friday deal!

Guest

Bit of confusion here Doug .I am on “superfast plus “( superfast 2 with extras) and get into the 70,s in Mbps but I am only 100 yards /metres from the street cabinet .
What I will do to save any confusion I will post the exact wording from BT –

BT superfast Fibre 2 broadband -67 average* speed – notice the asterisk ?
Small print –

*The “average” speed displayed in Mb represents the speed available to 50% of customers with this product during peak time (between 8pm and 10pm). The actual speed you will get depends on your cabling, your area and (with non-fibre optic products) time of day and how far you are from the telephone exchange. Most providers will tell you the likely speed you will receive when you begin your online sign up — this may differ from the average speed displayed on our table.

Second point Doug – what you are offered is FTTC – fibre to the cabinet ,at no time are the adverts saying – FTTH/P – fibre to the home/premises but I agree it is confusing .

Even more confusing is what I think you want – BT ULTRA fast broadband-read-

BT Ultrafast broadband
If you need a little extra oomph, BT also offers two ultrafast broadband packages. BT Ultrafast Fibre 1 gives you average speeds of 145Mb, while Ultrafast Fibre 2 offers average speeds of 300Mb.

Both packages include unlimited downloads, and a 100Mb speed guarantee – if your broadband speeds dip below that threshold, BT will give you £20.

They’re impressively speedy packages, but there is a downside. Not every area is able to get them yet, even if standard BT Superfast Fibre is available. Head over to a postcode checker to see if you can get one in your home. —
Even I cant get that at the moment due to the electronic design limitations in the fibre street cabinet .

Third point Doug- “Unlimited ” only means you aren’t restricted in the amount of data download – it doesn’t give any extra -oomph.
Superfast fibre comes in THREE ranges –
“average” speeds all- 36Mbps-50Mbps-67Mbps

Fourth point Doug – in each range there is a maximum and minimum so for example- 36Mbps can be much lower than that 15Mbps BUT if your speeds are consistently lower than the minimum then you can either downgrade or leave BT without any financial loss .

Even I as an ex BT engineer find this very confusing for the public and not really straightforward enough.

Get back and maybe I can help ?

Guest
Jim Spiller says:
6 December 2018

I am at the end of an overhead BT line connection., over three miles from the nearest exchange. I get an average of 2.5 download speed and currently 0.00 upload, (an average of 0.010.) And yet my Broadband provider insists that I pay the same rate as those in my local village who receive speeds far in excess of mine. Apparently, BT charges the same rate for the use of my extended line as others nearer the exchange. This seems quite unfair. I’d be interested to hear from others in a similar position.

Guest

To make any sort of judgement call Jim can you say whether you have FTTC -fibre -to-the-cabinet or is it all copper to the exchange, also what is your speed using a LAN cable connected to your master socket and all extension wiring removed ?

This is the same theoretical position that mobile users have with no service in their homes.
The government is not outlaying any more money to BT and recent new innovations are being paid by BT itself with BT pensioners being owed a large amount of money as BT has peen using Pension Funds to pay for some of this.
The same point you have can equally be applied to all the other ISP,s most of whom refuse to pay for uneconomical network lines and are only interested in profitable areas .

Guest
Jonathan Lee says:
10 December 2018

The Which speed test starts OK but then hangs at the “Completing the speedtest….” comment and does’t complete it – tried twice waiting twenty minutes at this point. Unimpressive. Suffice it to say that BT Broadband (and frankly mobile signal provision from all operators) is shocking in the commuter village where I live (Edlesborough, LU6 postcode area, in Buckinghamshire). Despite being populated by a high proportion of professional people working from home, schoolchildren and students, local businesses and tradespeople, all of whom are dependent on good broadband, speeds are generally low and, more annoyingly intermittent with multiple drop out outs of service EVERY DAY. Totally unacceptable. Absence of decent mobile signal is an even more bothersome impediment to carrying out normal personal and business related telephone activities. Again, totally unacceptable. What exactly is the regulator OFTEL for if it is not coercing telecoms operators of all types to deliver decent service everywhere in one of the world’s most advanced and wealthiest economies?

Guest

Jonathan it actually works BUT it didn’t at first, I disabled my blockers one at a time –no joy till I disabled HTTPS Everywhere then it worked like a charm showing you that info on the test goes to some places that are not HTTPS .
its going to be a job getting all mobile operators to agree with each other as they look on each other as rivals and the government is loath to interfere with private business.