It’s a lottery out there when it comes to broadband speed – even if you live in a highly populated place like London. I happen to live in the postcode with the capital’s slowest connection, and I’m not happy.
Sure, it’s not as slow as dial-up, and I can still watch BBC iPlayer, but I pay for much more and I live in London!
Broadband speed discrepancies in London
It’s all part of the broadband lottery, and despite what you might think, it’s not just a battle between the rural and the urban. Londoners face a big discrepancy in broadband speed depending on their postcode.
The postcode worst affected in the city is good old E14, better known as the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf. The area’s average speed, compiled by tests submitted by residents, was 3.7Mbps – a speed that would take four hours to download a film. Let’s just say, I don’t try to do that too often.
East London is badly affected elsewhere, with Shoreditch and Bethnal Green also struggling to get above 5Mbps. This is compared to the city’s fastest areas – Upper Edmonton and Hamstead, where both enjoy on average over 16Mbps.
Now, I’m ‘lucky’ that my ISP provides ‘up to’ 20Mbps broadband no matter what package I pay for, but I happen to be on their most expensive deal for ‘unlimited’ browsing and downloads.
Nevertheless, I’m still only getting a quarter of the speed I pay for. So shouldn’t I get a tasty discount? Why should people in Canary Wharf have to pay as much as those in Edmonton?
The ‘up to’ in broadband advertising
I know most of us realise that the term ‘up to’ is meant to suggest the speed is a guide rather than a guarantee. But when there’s a massive gap between what’s advertised and what people actually get it really does make a mockery of current broadband advertising.
I wonder if ISPs would like it if I changed my payments to ‘up to’ £15 depending on what mood I’m in, or what state my bank balance is in? Ceri Stanaway, our broadband expert at Which? had this to say on the matter:
‘Broadband advertising should reflect the speeds that most of us can get in practice, not the speeds that a handful of fortunate broadband users get some of the time. Which? will continue to represent consumers to the ASA, Ofcom and industry to help them develop a meaningful and honest way of advertising broadband speeds.’
And yes, I know, rural dwellers have got it even worse, with Which? Convo commenter Keith asking why rural areas are ‘charged the same fees as town dwellers’. But maybe, if you don’t get the speed that’s advertised you should pay less, no matter where you live? Or better, broadband providers’ misleading use of ‘up to’ speeds should be done away with altogether.