/ 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?

Comments
Nigel says:
4 April 2017

The example speeds on the OneShow map were totally optimistic. I live in north Devon and love it when my download speed reaches 1mb.

Alan says:
4 April 2017

I live in south Devon and my broadband is set to a maximum of 1mg I rarely manage to get more than about 0.6 mg. You can see that I would be delighted to get as much as 2mg.

We were disconnected from our fibre broadband towards the end of January 2017 and told, due to a fault, we could either have the phone line or broadband. We chose the phone because we thought the broadband would be reconnected fairly soon – WE WERE WRONG – we complained to our Provider (Plusnet) who liaised with Open Reach, and we were promised that we would be reconnected on 25th January. This date came and went and still no connection. We were told there was a fibre fault and this was due to be fixed on 23rd February – this did not happen. It would then be fixed by 31st March – this also came and went and now are told it won’t be fixed until 28th April. Previously, we had a perfectly good service with a speed of around 28 Mhz. Despite Plusnet’s efforts to get Open Reach to sort this out, they have been unsuccessful and we have no idea where to go next. There seems to be no way that we, as individuals, can contact Open Reach directly. Any help would be appreciated – we’re desperate!

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I downloaded all the info about that, Duncan, some time ago. But for it to be viable several houses have to come together. A real nuisance when there simply aren’t many other houses around.

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The rest of our village are likely to get better broadband speeds later this year but our road (on the boundary of the village) will not get the upgrade, with no prospect of this happening in the coming years. Less than 2mbps is sooo frustrating.

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Digby says:
9 April 2017

But there is no grounds to complain about your slow speed if they don’t advertise a higher speed than you get, as in my case?
I am in the country, just, but am at the end of a copper line, several miles from the exchange. The speed is barely 1MB at its best and is frequently much less, 0.5 or 0.3, with frequent drop-outs. I am disabled and need it for business and personal use, as I am frequently housebound; no consideration seems to be given for that.
I am forever complaining to Plusnet and it usually takes them weeks to make a few tweaks that improves the line for a short while, back to 1MB, until it deteriorates again (after all the usual rigmarole of them blaming my own equipment and wiring etc)
Ironically, the view from my windows shows the Scottish capital city and also the largest Amazon distribution warehouse in Scotland – it would be quicker to take my order over to Amazon by hand and pop it through their letter box than it is to submit it online.

I live in a small Lancashire village. BT have provided superfast broadband on fibre BUT only to the junction boxes. They have left the old copper connections to the individual homes. On a good day we get 24 mps speeds. It often buffers or drops connection. I work from home and this causes me significant issues specially if I’m in a Skype meeting…..very annoying. It seems that BT’s allegiance is mainly to its shareholders and not customers. They appear to forget the symbiosis between the two .

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Mine is a rather better story. Having had a long battle with BT, including the Ombudsman, about getting a replacement line to my property, I was guaranteed by them 1.5mbs… I was given a Mark 3 router. Not long after the line had a problem and they supplied a Mark 4 router. It was awful, so I sent it back and continued with the Mark 3. I’m about 2 1/2 miles from the junction box, so they say there’s no hope of ever getting fast broadband here, but when I just checked the download speed it’s 2.8mbs wireless! So I’m actually pleased with that… However in the mornings when there’s a lot of use, it does drop on and off line dreadfully.

My broadband speed is ok, after 5 engineer visits and a final referral to openreach when they sussed out the problem was actually the cabling from the street to my premises. My issue is not being able to get fibre even though the house next door (yes I did say next door and I’m not in a rural community I’m in Hove and what’s worse the houses are Semi detached!!! ) has it but apparently I need to join up with others in my community and raise funds to enable OR to cable my part of the road. The rest of my street has had fibre since Cable and Wireless became Virgin so you can imagine how frustrating it is to be in one of the only 10 houses in a street with over 250 houses that can’t actually access fibre!

L Knight says:
11 April 2017

I work for a charity with only 6 people (not all full time) and were told upon joining BT that our £50/mth option would be ‘ample’ for 6 wireless desktops and our mobile phones.

We didn’t have problems at first, and then our internet started to slow down, so we we paid to upgrade to BT Fibre’ which also started to drop out on a daily and often hourly basis; the number of downtime and working hours lost was ridiculous. We contacted BT over and over again to no avail, so went with Virgin instead, paying an equivalent amount for up to 200mbps download speed.

I called BT to cancel our contract and an upcoming ‘engineers review’ with them, and was then called back by the ‘engineer’ who turned out to be a customer service (sales) representative. He didn’t empathise or try to fix my problems at all; but proceeded to tell me that broadband was never meant to be used for businesses – just domestic usage. When I asked why, if that was the case, it was sold to us as part of a business package, informed me that businesses in the US didn’t use broadband because it was outdated, and that broadband here was too cheap. To infuriate me further, he told me that all the working hours and equivalent ‘money’ I’d lost due to their shoddy broadband connection could have easily been solved if I just upgraded to their
£250/month package, and would have thus been a ‘saving’ for us!

At that point I’d had enough, and informed him that if I were him I would start listening to his customers complaints as to why they were leaving BT due to their existing products not working; not try and upsell them expensive products because their own existing advertised products were clearly not fit for use.

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I have been onto BT twice in the last few weeks. I have lived in this house in rural Wiltshire since 2009 and have been with BT all that time. My package is Unlimited Broadband (ADSL) and telephone. I can’t remember what speed I was promised when I signed up, but I have used Netflix for some time without too much problem. Slow, but not unusable. However, recently the speed and drop out has been ridiculous. Using BT’s own speed checker a few weeks ago the best I could get was 1Mbps download and at that time I was told that they were not breaching the contract because the best I could expect was 1 Mbps. They sent out an engineer who confirmed that the problem was not to do with my equipment (new Smart Hub) or wiring, it was external. BT did nothing, they still claimed that there was no problem. Since then the speed has dropped further to between 0.25 and 0.38 Mbps so I rang BT again today. The person I spoke to said that the maximum that could be expected on my line was 0 .5 Mbps and had no answer to my question about why the expectation had dropped further. Allegedly, I should be able to get “up to 17Mbps in this area”. All he could suggest is that I upgrade to fibre. Fibre has recently been installed in the box in my village, the box is under a mile from my house.
I could scream with the frustration and unfairness of it all.
My theory is that they want to get everyone to sign up to Fibre, so are doing something to make ADSL unviable, but there is no guarantee that fibre would deliver as promised.
Another frustration is that if I were to upgrade to fibre, as an existing BT customer I would be paying considerably more than a new one.
What can I do? By the way, I am using an ethernet cable not wi fi.

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We need to stop using copper (the cable here is aluminium ) cabling in the Rural area and start to use Fibre-optic cabling which is cheaper, and Future Proving as long as it was to the house and not just to the box . Copper cable is out of date if Fibre-optic was used this would improve speed in the Rural areas .
Fibre to copper is like 4 lane motorway (Fibre) to one lane (copper) making fibre not very effective so has to be used from SOURCE TO CUSTOMER, this is called investing in the future,

Peter Carroll says:
21 April 2017

Credit where it’s due. I’m in south Devon and use BT. I used to get 18-20Mbps on copper/aluminium. Now I’ve switched to BT Infinity 1 with advertised speeds up to 52Mbps, I actually get between 57-59Mbps.

Peter says:
22 April 2017

From 20thFeb till April 3rd No Broadband, this from our request to go to fibre from ADSL arranged for the 20th. Changed service provider through this period, “voting with feet”, connected within days to Provider listed by you as one of the best. Awful service from previous provider, when you can get through!
We are OAPs and regard broadband as a essential service. Openreach didn’t turn up or ring on three separate occasions, pathetic organisation.

While my house is 3 miles from the nearest exchanges that has been upgraded to superfast broadband, I have found that my telephone line is an Exchange Only or ‘EO’ line and fibre broadband is not available yet, through the digital Scotland website. Having followed up with Digital Scotland to find out whether there is an intent to address this by their stated target of March 2018, I receive the following response: “I have checked your postcode, and unfortunately your area is not within an eligible area in the Digital Scotland programme. Around 5% of Scotland will not be part of the roll-out, due to budget constraints and technical challenges.” I looks as though I will have to continue struggling with 1Mbps download speeds.

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Here’s a slight deviation from the theme but appropriate nonetheless. I am responsible for the technology in our village hall. Did you know that village halls are required to have a business phone and broadband line? Although it is a charity it is considered a business. The speed in our hall is 1.9Mbps and BT have told me that that is about the best I can expect. We run U3A courses amongst other things in the hall which require better speed of access. I am sincerely glad I don’t have to run a business at 1.9Mbps. I’ve contacted other companies but all say the same as BT because guess who runs the infrastructure. I’ve just done a speed test at home using the Which? tool and I get 7Mbps. I live in the same village in Dorset as the village hall.

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Ofcom announced within the last week that Openreach were now required to make all their street cabinets, ducts and overhead facilities available to other approved telecom service providers so that they can speed up the delivery of faster broadband [on profitable terms, of course]. I could not work out whether this included sharing the actual fibre cables or merely installing parallel cables. This should help areas where it is commercially worth while but not in Openreach’s immediate programme . Given that all the infrastructure installed before the privatisation of BT was provided at public expense, so is therefore a national asset, this seems to be a sensible and long overdue development.

Brian Goodwin says:
24 April 2017

I believe that broadband should be priced according to the speed actually delivered rather than the method of delivery. As a customer I am not bothered if my broadband is delivered by copper, fibre or wet string – I just want a speed of at least 10Mbps. Currently I am on copper and am lucky to get 1Mbps. If I switch to fibre it will cost an extra £10 per month but still only deliver 4Mbps, yet I am already paying for ‘upto’ 17Mbps!
ISPs should be made to sell their service in guaranteed speed bands and use whatever technology is required to deliver that speed. The electricity board does not charge more if you are fed from a sub station; neither does the water board charge more if you are fed from a pumping station. So why should ISP’s be allowed to charge according to the method of delivery?
Customers should be paying for a service not a technology!

My test gave 800ms, 0.5 download and 0.5 upload.
I do a lot of media work and this is wasting so much time, also stops me doing other creative work, maintenance only. I need to go to my partner’s house in Bruton to upload my website updates for example.
Utility Warehouse have been most helpful and we reckon the issue is the mile of old phone line from a mile away. Many homes and businesses are suffering.
So I am lodging a complaint, and am naming BT on Twitter where I have 5,800 followers, enough I hope to concern them.

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We live on the borders of Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire, about 5 miles from the town of Bicester, in a small hamlet. I have just done the Which speed checker & have an upload of 1.2mbps & download of 2.1mbps. We have complained to various people at BT ( our provider) including e-mails to the CEO. We are surrounded by villages that have fibre optic broadband but as we are out on a spur we have no chance of ever being connected. One person at BT told us, we won’t get it as we don’t have a cabinet—- excuse me, who installed the telephone lines?
Gigaclear have provided fibre optic in the next village, but once again won’t come near us. I think a lot of the problem is that there are not enough houses in the hamlet. The other thing that rearly gets us going is the adverts on television for BT Superfast Broadband, the cost of just one of these adverts would pay to have the cable brought into the hamlet.

We live on the borders of Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire, about 5 miles from the town of Bicester, in a small hamlet. I have just done the Which speed checker & have an upload of 1.2mbps & download of 2.1mbps. We have complained to various people at BT ( our provider) including e-mails to the CEO. We are surrounded by villages that have fibre optic broadband but as we are out on a spur we have no chance of ever being connected. One person at BT told us, we won’t get it as we don’t have a cabinet—- excuse me, who installed the telephone lines?
Gigaclear have provided fibre optic in the next village, but once again won’t come near us. I think a lot of the problem is that there are not enough houses in the hamlet. The other thing that rearly gets us going is the adverts on television for BT Superfast Broadband, the cost of just one of these adverts would pay to have the cable brought into the hamlet.