/ Technology

Great British Broadband?

Laptop with cake

We might be home to the world’s best TV baking competition, but the UK’s broadband providers are the worst in Europe for delivering the broadband speeds they advertise. Are you getting the speeds you pay for?

About a month later than the rest of the world, I have finally caught up on the latest series of Great British Bake Off on iPlayer.

Yes, like the rest of the country I got swept away in the emotion of cake baking. I will even admit that I shed a tear when Mary Berry announced how happy she was for the winner, Nadia.

Broadband in the Bake Off tent

Speaking to friends, colleagues, and fellow bake-off enthusiasts, I know I wasn’t alone. But I do question: was I the only one in the country watching this sugar-coated, innuendo-filled competition wondering if the white tent could get broadband?

Now, this might have been on my mind after discovering that the average broadband speed in urban areas (28Mbps) is now almost three times faster than the average rural connection (10Mbps). But it’s more likely because I was gritting my teeth watching the dreaded buffering wheel waiting for the announcement of star baker.

UK worst for broadband advertising

As I run Which?’s campaign on broadband speeds, I am attuned to the frustrations of Great British broadband users.

So it came as no surprise to me when the European Commission revealed that broadband users across Europe are only getting 75% of the speeds advertised.

What’s more, the UK is the worst in Europe for delivering the broadband speeds advertised by ADSL providers. While Slovakia, Poland and Portugal deliver over 80% of the advertised speeds to consumers, UK companies only manage to deliver a puny 45% of the advertised speed during peak periods. You can see how the countries compare in this interactive map:

It’s worth pointing out that UK fibre and cable broadband is more aligned with the rest of Europe when it comes to delivering the broadband speed advertised. But getting what’s been advertised to you shouldn’t just be limited to these customers.

We think all UK consumers should get the broadband speeds they’re paying for, which is why we’re calling on the advertising watchdogs to review their guidelines for broadband ads.

F J Rawlings says:
27 October 2015

should show speeds that 80% can receive at peak usage times


As a loyal BT user and ex.BT engineer even though I do criticise them at times I must say BT for me have been true to their word . I pay for the top end fibre and using Which,s own speed tester 5 minutes ago I got nearly 80 Gbts download and nearly 20 Gbts upload which for my area is good (on a London server ).I have FTTC but have a direct feed to my PC no other internal wiring . For those with a slow speed bear in mind that your ISP doesnt always provide the fastest speed and in some cases it is worthwhile using a DNS Changer program to increase the speed by quite a bit ,server speeds are always varying you also must realise that most servers track you in the sense that they note your location and destination this isnt always “above board ” for those like me who know the state of the web and dont mind a slight drop in speed there are servers which dont “track ” you.


The trouble with many providers is that they never mention that they use ‘traffic management’ which restricts speeds during peak times. I only discovered this with Plusnet after studying the small print! My fault I guess but these companies should be more open and transparent during the initial sign-up and tell you everything.


Absolutely right Chris S and thats why I am with BT I am not “traffic managed ” I am on Infinity 2 “superfast” broadband and on checking on MY BT ,BT if providing exactly the broadband speed it advertises for my contract . Several ISP,s provide higher speeds but “choke ” your speed during peak periods and if you are a heavy user. Worst case for me was 63Gbs but I use different DNS servers as I said above.


Hi again Duncan on a different subject and yours by the look of it. I dont know what I am being sold so a litlle help might go a long way,
I am according to g maps 2.8 mile from the exchange and as best i can see the nearest u/ground box is 1.9 miles down the road. I’m assuming that fibre only goes u/ground
When all these dudes come on the phone trying to upgrade us to fibre I wont agree to anything (nothing new about that) because I cant see how I can have fibre if I havnt seen BT putting down anything new for many years so where does the fibre come to. I might add I am out on the sticks so seeing BT putting stuff down would be noticed


Well your right Dee you are rarely going to see BT Outreach installing fibre as it is usually contracted out to private firms (plain white lorries ) they only usually appear at the green cabinet in the road. Now for fibre to be installed requires a new green cabinet (slightly different shape ) where the copper D-SIDE (customers pole / wallbox DP (distribution box ) .This D-SIDE is connected under the ground next to the old box to the new fibre box which has fibre cable going back to the exchange . Now for the purposes of speed you can take the fibre box as being the proxy exchange so instead of say 3 miles from the exchange you are technically 2 miles from the exchange this is still a fair distance as over a mile speed is reduced significantly but its all down to loop resistance of your copper wire O/H (overhead wiring ) and your internal house wiring if BT has not renewed your overhead in the last 10 years you could have old higher resistance wiring this also includes your internal wiring but nowadays most people in private houses are liable for the condition of your internal wiring thats why I have –and I advise you to have your master socket next to your router/ modem and run a direct line from the box separating your external wiring to your internal wiring . In days gone by this was in a bathroom -BAD move as water/condensation allowed HLI/ S/C(short circuit) (heavy low insulation ) to develop . Check the condition of your external wiring and also check the black box on the pole to see if its okay where your O/H is terminated (might be in somebodies garden /property ) . If you need more info let me know.


Our line, the last bit about 400m is about 23 years old. I think it is 25 pair despite us onlly needing one phone.
It was a distant cousin who arrived with the hole borer and cable trailer and said that that is what he was sent out with. and he done what he was told so up it went.
Theres no new boxs and no new work since the last 20 years at least so I think it may be soem time before we have proper internet.
I can fill the kettle and switch it on and sit back down before my email opens up if it gets real bad.
Sometimes I think I’ll try satellite.
Thanks for an explanation I can get my head around


Hang on Dee that last 400 m is 25 pair ? All is not lost whats stopping you “bunching ” the pairs this was done in the days of pre- satellite when a low loop resistance was required for television transmission via copper UG feed . IN other words twist/crimp several copper pairs together at each end this will half/quarter the resistance of the line. IN my early days with BT I have done just that at a rugby event. Normally in O/H wiring there are 2 pairs of conductors “bunching” them would reduce the loop resistance but are you saying the 25 pair goes to the DP and then UG ? if you are the only one on the DP or there are only 1/2 other subscribers maybe BT would bunch the spare pairs back to the cabinet ? Satellite is pretty dear and heavy rain storms can effect the signal .