/ Technology

The early bird catches the broadband

Working early

What’s your morning routine – a leisurely breakfast and a nice cup of freshly brewed coffee? Or do you make the most of the off peak broadband speeds to get your house or business in order? That’s the case for the locals living in Abererch, Gwynedd…

I’m sure we’ve all experienced the frustration of slow broadband – whether you’re paying your bills and checking your online banking or streaming your latest box set.

But getting up at 4am, because it’s the only time your broadband connection is reliable, to send emails and manage your business, just isn’t acceptable.

Access to superfast broadband

The broadband figures, revealed by the House of Commons, show seven of the top ten areas for the worst speeds in the UK are in Wales.

The government has recommended that the lowest acceptable download speed is 10Mbps, but Abererch was recorded as having a speed of just 2Mbps.

Liz Saville Roberts MP, for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, said:

‘These figures serve to reaffirm the disproportionate divide between those areas which are able to access superfast broadband and those rural communities struggling to achieve the Government’s own baseline download speed.’

However, BT Openreach said:

‘Contrary to reports – the village of Abererch has had access to the fastest available broadband speeds in the UK since June last year. A majority of premises have access to fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology– offering ultrafast speeds of up to 1Gbps, with further engineering work underway to connect up remaining properties.’

The reality of broadband speed

We are increasingly finding that the speeds promised by broadband providers are not always those experienced in reality. And this has become the motivation for our upcoming campaign – painting a true picture of broadband speeds across the UK and using that evidence to tackle the issue.

After successfully lobbying for misleading ‘up to’ advertising speeds to be changed over the last two years, we’re looking at what else can be done to tackle the frustration of poor speeds like those experienced by the people of Abererch, Gwynedd.

There will be more to come next week, but in the meantime, we thought you’d like a sneak preview of our new and improved speed checker and our new broadband speed complaint tool before we reveal all next week…

So, do you find your broadband sluggish? How do slower broadband speeds affect you?


I found I had better broadband speed when I was in the wilds of Washington State in the US and also in the south of Paris than I do in London. It is disgraceful the constant buffering, slow downloads and sleep/wake failures I am constantly encountering in my home in London. The router sits on the same desk as my Windows Pc and my desktop Mac. Yet connection to my broadband account keeps falling away – and this is after BT upgraded us to their late smart hub system. Why?

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Hi Sheila, thank you for your comment. Sorry to hear about your broadband problems. We’ve decided to make you comment the featured comment on our homepage. Thanks

My first recommendation would be to get rid any BT-supplied modem/router/hub. You don’t have to use what BT supplies – I have a 3rd party modem/router/hub which works very well in almost all respects (see below). “Free” doesn’t mean it’s any good, not that it is free; in any case, “free” suggests to me “not worth paying for”.

There is a lot of anecdotal evdence that the general quality of BT-supplied modem/router/hubs is poor with many BT customers having hubs replaced several times and often without comment/question from BT, suggesting BT know they have a problem with their modem/router/hubs.

In addition, consider what “smart” might mean. It is my belief that BT-supplied modem/router/hubs have been modified by BT to allow BT to access the hub, change its setting and, potentially monitor your activity. My reason for thinking this is that if I try to use any of BT’s online tools to check my setup, they immediately through a wobbly and tell me I don’t have a BT hub so they can’t work with it.

Personally, I want as much security between BT and my modem/PC as possible and I don’t want BT messinging around and monitoring without my knowledge.

Living in the country in Northern Ireland my broadband is really slow, I seldom get about 1mb. Having been to India and see how fast their broadband is I also find it so unexceptable that our broadband is so slow. As a country we are so far behind with our broadband compared to many other countries especially in rural areas..

South Korea has enjoyed a speed of over 100 Mbps for over 20 years. Businesses have had speeds in excess of that for the same period. In the U.K., the Government have allowed BT to get away with a slapdash approach to this problem. The solution is to charge Openreach with the responsibility of ensuring that every household can get a minimum of 50 Mbps within two years. Even at that, we will still be 20 years behind South Korea.

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Our part of Wales has no prospect of getting broadband via a landline. We have bitten the bullet and got a satellite system, which works reasonably except in heavy rain, which is not ideal in west Wales. Of course, we can’t get mains electricity or much of a mobile phone signal either, so the lack of broadband is not surprising.

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Katharine says:
30 March 2017

I live just a few miles outside Bristol, a mile from the nearest town and our speeds are typically 1.2 Mbps at best. BT aren’t interested in improving that at all.

I am with TalkTalk and i wish i had never joined them.My internet drops out continuously 5,6,7,8, times for the day. Then to make matters worst it drops out and doesn’t resurface again for all 10 hours in quite a few instances. All TalkTalk say to me it’s ok at their end, so how come i haven’t got any internet.
Joined them last year because Sky who i had been with for over 5 years started jacking up their prices.
All the time i had been with Sky i never had a problem with Broadband. I am without Internet everyday more than 5 times a day and it can take a while to come back. Last straw last Sunday night had NO internet until i just started to ring them about 10am Monday morning ,internet came back on, they said they cannot do anything because i have internet back on so no fault to fix. Offered me £5 off my bill for inconvenience,it’s NOT good enough. Coming onto 1 year now and i rue the day signing up

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Thank you Duncan i will try what you suggested and will keep post updated.

With BT on their Infinity 2 package since April 2013. Now time to renew and am told that there is no point being on Infinity 2 as it is not available in my area – funny how they sold me a service they can’t deliver?!

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Easier said than done, trying to contact them is a nightmare. No reply to letters of complaint, when you phone through to complaints you end up with someone who agrees you have a problem, tells you they will monitor your line and will get back to you, which they never do! I had dropped speed for a month, from average of 3 m to 0.5. this is below the speed promised, but how do you go about getting a refund, when customer services don’t reply to a letter?

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The broadband availability and speeds here in Mid Wales are APPALLING. Internet continually cutting out, so slow, wait long lengths of time to download or even get onto the internet.
Just checked my speeds – they are : Download speed – 1.6 mbps Upload speed – 0.6 mpbs

Anyone got worse than these??!

Lindsey Applegate says:
31 March 2017

Yes I’m afraid so… Mid Wales too. Download speed 1.1 Mbps. Upload Speed 0.3 Mbps. Almost unusable. Why do we have to pay the full price? Fed up with talking to BT and getting absolutely no where.

Yes, I am a lot worse off…………………Cannot use the speed test at all as my speed is too slow to register!I have been trying, since Which’s email arrived.
I am supposedly getting about 0.5 Mb/s at best according to my provider, though according to OFCOM’s APP, which I downloaded on my mobile, the speed in the house (though I have no mobile signal in the house I use my WiFi) is 0.39Mb/s at best and irregular to boot. I have been told by Open Reach that all the lines in this area (Llyn Peninsular) need replacing but it is uneconomic for them to carry out the work! I have heard that they were allegedly, given a grant by the Welsh Assembly ( some £50 million IIRC) to provide rural areas in Wales with a reliable service. Seems to me that they have taken they money and pocketed it for other things. Ridiculous in this day and age.

Yes we have been trying for more than two years with Talk Talk to get faster Broadband but they have failed as the fastest speed we have ever had was 15 but normal speed would be around 10 but about 4 times a week we have to reboot the router to get it to work,we have now changed over to SKY who told they would do better but no luck so far,

I live in an area on the Llyn Peninsular, not that far from Abererch, your tool is too high tech to work for me, keeps coming back with “connection error, try again”. This does not surprise me, as my speed, at best, is 0.5Mb/s (no, I do mean 0.5!) This is what my provider told me would be the max that I could expect. What galls me is that every couple of months there are severe issues which means that for the next few months after, I am only getting the odd day without a break in service at some stage. I only complain when the break lasts over an hour without reconnection, a line test usually sorts it out, until the next time that is!. My provider is good and tries their best………….BT or rather OR come out, faff about without much interest and tell me either that I have an unresolved loop or that ( as happened last week) yes, there is a problem but we can’t find it today………………..Ring when it happens again. I was supposed to have fibre to the house last January (16) in March 16, an OR van towing a roll of fibre came down to the house, said it was my lucky day and I would be connected to the fibre network……………………….. I obviously looked a bit aghast as the chap then said, don’t tell me, they haven’t laid the cable yet………….. I replied that this was so. Apparently, this was the third similar case that day for him! Honestly. Pathetic! Couldn’t organise a booze up in a brewery that company.
I am not amused!

Just checked my Speed and I am getting 1.1 Download and 1.7 Upload. This is in South Wales Rhymney Valley. Our house is 5 Miles from the main relay box and actually on the last row of the cables. In other words DEAD end of the line for a DEAD end service.

I am very happy with BT,my download speed is 76Mbs with an upload of 26Mbs.I have never had a fault on my broadband line which I have had at least 12 years.

Your own speed test results differ greatly to those obtained from BTW Broadband Performance Test.
Your results show: download 3.4Mbps; Upload 3.2Mbps
BTW results: download 2.87Mbps; Upload 0.61Mbps

The BTW figures are much more realistic. Maybe you need a more accurate testing method.

Here in Carmarthenshire we have download speeds of between 0.8 and 1.0MB!! And an intermittent signal. BT don’t care and government strategy over years has let them off the hook. BT have cherry-picked the most lucrative areas to serve and left slim-pickings for other network installers. Nearby Cardiganshire is “finished” according to BT, the locals didn’t even notice BT had started!

Bob HG says:
31 March 2017

Try Pantperthog, 2.5 miles from Machynlleth. 1.5 mbps on a good day, and there’s a fibre optic cable on the other side of the road. My son in Thailand gets 30 mbps on his broadband connection and the same on his mobile. There’s not even a mobile signal in Pantperthog.

Broadband speed is so bad in Southwest Anglesey that even the broadband speed checker failed to complete just now. Thank you BT for your damp string and tin can service.

Hi Peter, thanks for your comment. The checker is getting quite a bit of traffic at the moment, so you might like to try a bit later. Sorry your speeds are so slow! What were you promised?

Where I live in Wales, the only broadband availability to us is via mifi, therefore, we have limited download per month and variable speed and access (mainly due to weather conditions) even though neighbours within half a mile are able to access broadband via landline, or a further mile and a half away, cable. We have been told there is no prospect of this changing. This is infuriating and we very much feel that we are seen as second class citizens.

Yes, being a “not spot” here, the WA said they would pay for a digital installation. The problem is that it cost circa £30 per month to subscribe and the limits on the contract are rather low I have been told and the excess charges rather high. I could not justify the £30 to begin with so didn’t join up.

Hello and thanks to Which for the test of our Boradband speed.

Using Speedtest.net I had significantly better speeds than the Which? test.
I know I am not getting the advertised speed from Virgin Cable but I can get closer to it when connect to the router by cable rather than wirelessly.

The make and speed of the wireless receiver on the computer, as well as its own speed and where it is fitted have a significant impact too.

I am very grateful for highlighting this issue as most providers do not provide acurate information or compensate customers for failing to deliver.

The price of the service is ridiculously expensive at a time of hardship and austerity. It has been rising progressively and there does not appear to be an authority that is genuinely interested in protecting consumers.

Edward says:
31 March 2017

cannot get any broadband signal via landlines. I have to subscribe with Avonline and its satellite signal

It is a failure of the government when it is switching most services to the Internet but does not accept it duty to serve all its citizens equally. I have friends in the Gower too who have no broadband..

I am old enough to remember when telecommunications were a service provided by the state to connect people, and not a commodity to sell as high as you can get.

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