/ Technology

Superfast? I don’t think so

bad broadband

The broadband service many of us get simply isn’t good enough. That’s why we’ve launched a campaign to paint a true picture of broadband speeds across the UK

Fancy getting up at 4am just so you can do your online banking? How about having to queue up at an internet cafe to send a few emails? It doesn’t sound much fun. But it’s reality for many left behind while the rest of the UK gets ever-faster broadband.

Broadband firms love to bandy around phrases such as ‘superfast’ and ‘ultrafast’, and advertise connection speeds that, for many, are as impossible to get as the winning lottery numbers.

The government says that the lowest acceptable download speed is 10Mbps, but a House of Commons report last month revealed communities struggling to get anywhere near this.

It listed the village of Abererch in Wales as having the lowest speeds in the UK. Residents there report having to get up at all hours to use the internet before it slows to a complete crawl.

Our findings

Our latest broadband survey shows some improvements. But we also found there is still a massive difference between rural and urban areas.

Just 59% of rural premises had access to 30Mbps download speeds by June 2016. Pretty poor, given that the UK average is 90%.

Where I live in the West Country we have to pay £30 a month extra for a 4GB mobile phone mast that offers speeds of only 20Mbps. Farmers nearby have to go to internet cafes to send off forms they’re required by law to complete.

And these problems aren’t unique to rural areas – many residents in pockets of our towns and cities are also reporting struggles with slow speeds and constant buffering.

Taking action

Reliable and fast broadband is vital for anyone who wants to play a full role in our society. Whether it’s applying for a job, shopping online, doing online banking, or running your own business, you need a trustworthy internet connection.

It’s because so many of your daily experiences differ so widely from the superfast paradise promised by broadband providers that we have launched the Fix Bad Broadband campaign.

We want to paint a true picture of broadband speeds across the UK, and we’ll use that evidence to tackle the problem.

Our improved broadband speed checker lets you get a much clearer idea of what speed you should be expecting in your area.

And if yours isn’t what it’s supposed to be, we have tips and advice on how to improve your connection, and a free tool to help you to complain to your provider if you’re still not happy.

Comments
Profile photo of duncan lucas
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As this isnt going to end and appears to be a “Righteous Cause ” -picture a golden armored knight riding into a blazing sunset with a big cross emblazoned on the front , with crowds crying in the background , shouting –you will do it -you will save us oh Great+ Noble One , then what I want to know is simple- WHO-PAYS ??? . Only practical, down to earth, costed by engineering accountancy will be acceptable to me . I hope you dont expect the “evil BT ” to pay 10,s of £billions for FTTP to remote areas and those believing the propaganda- it can be done for £500 PLEASE break this down for me for remote customers , where I and another team mate(two man party + plus pole erection team , in REALITY , not dreams spent TWO days( not including the pole installations ) on ONE remote farm with 12 span of overhead wiring , over a river, through a small Forrest , even the vans got bogged down in the mud . Are You the tax payers going to pay-nope – how about HMG – nope -1 less nuke sub ? etc etc – dont think so . so reality please not dreams and conjecture. The ONLY answer- Microwave/ radio , but hang on are Virgin Media shareholders saying -oh yes we will do it ?-dont think so.

Profile photo of GraceCourt
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I have no doubts whatsoever that Duncan’s views are genuinely held, but of course his claim that “microwave and radio is the only answer” is fundamentally-flawed thinking. The biggest problem is that the incumbent provider – BT Openreach – is driven by profit and spreadsheets, not the strategic needs of the country, so if infrastructure improvement isn’t going to give BT a profit, it doesn’t happen.

Seven years ago, New Zealand had the same problem, and the Government decided that the private sector should not obstruct the economic development of the whole country. So it set up a new incumbent, Crown Fibre Holdings, 100%-owned by the state, and after seven years, 67% of residential premises, 97% of business premises, and 100% of schools all have a FTTP (fibre to the premises) connections, not FTTC (fibre to the cabinet), which is a flawed technology wholly unsuitable for rural areas because those more than 1km from the nearest cabinet – a huge proportion of rural properties – cannot get more than 30Mbps. The FTTC roll-out, supported by hundreds of millions of pounds of State Aid in many rural areas, was simply a way of stretching out the revenue stream from BT’s ageing copper infrastructure.

There are 31 countries in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and in relation to FTTP, the UK is 31st – last! Seven years ago, New Zealand was last, it is now 11th, and on track to be 5th by 2022.

And radio-based superfast broadband schemes? They might well work, but the high capital cost and low revenue yield means that they aren’t viable over the long term – the speeds are limited by the technology and schemes aren’t profitable enough for their next requirement for technology refresh. If you have any doubts, Google “A B Internet”, a provider of radio-based schemes that went into administration last Friday.

Compare that with Broadband for the Rural North, a not-for-profit cummunity benefit society that has quietly been providing FTTP broadband for £30/month in rural areas for a number of years, and now has over 3,000 customers enjoying 1Gbps upload and download – yes, you read that correctly, 1Gbps! And they have never received a single penny in State Aid, because State Aid rules do not allow such community initiatives to own and operate their networks – they only permit a third party commercial provider to do so, which of course takes a profit, thereby making the business case in areas where market failure has already occurred even less viable.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Grace , have you read all my other “outpourings ” on this subject ? what did I say ?? -WHO PAYS — and after checking into New Zealand -Crown Fibre Holdings guess who pays ??– the New Zealand TAX payer and what have I and others said ?? that UK citizen will NOT pay for FTTP but if you have “insider ” info then I will listen intently to you telling me TM + all her cabinet have decided to pay for 100 % FTTP for ALL those long rural lines of copper (the 5 % ) . Population of New Zealand ?? slightly LESS than Scotland , and Scotland ?? less than 10 % of the UK so £1.5 billion goes a lot farther in New Zealand than it does in Britain . Yes I do post sincerely otherwise I would be no better than your average politician. By a large majority the British public are not prepared to pay extra tax for FTTP but if you want to make it a election issue I would certainly not go against you. Even more damming evidence – rural population of New Zealand =2% of population at (approx ) 5 million ( 2006 ) = 100,000 – divide that by numbers in each house -say 3 members = 33 thousand (approx ) so 33000 have £1.5 billion spent on them .

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Until I recently changed to fibre (at cabinet) with a decent deal, I was on copper and below 4Mbps. As a private user I did all I needed to do online – banking, on-line forms, purchasing, grandkids homework….. None of this took exceptional time.So I don’t quite understand why I must have 10 Mbps or more. I got buffering on films sometimes, and don’t download big files like music – but I don’t regard those as “essentials”.

If you choose to live in Devon, and have a particular requirement for broadband speed, then you should check before you move and find an area that suits you. I don’t suppose £30 a month for P VS is going to break his bank if he must have 20 Mbps.

Businesses are in the same position – if broadband is essential and therefore contributes to your profits, invest some of those profits in paying for it.

This seems like another headline-grabbing Which? campaign from an author who never replies to direct questions. Short on real facts, long on generalisations, and with no information on who should pay to provide this service, and where that money is going to come from. I certainly don’t want to subsidise speeds that are not necessary for basic internet use, nor to provide a “cheap” high speed service to those who have chosen to live in particular areas.

If the example of a particular farmer needing to complete a form has to occasionally visit a local internet cafe, what is wrong with that? Not really different from the day he had to visit his bank, and no doubt some have to physically go to market.

There are far more worthy causes for my taxes. Perhaps running a more equitable social care system for example.

Profile photo of John Ward
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It’s alright, Malcolm. UK broadband coverage and speed is so dire throughout the country that there will be very little response to this Conversation.

Profile photo of alfa
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There again, it is the end of the week, so a verbal diarrhoea invite will be going out soon for the weekend onslaught ………….. 💩

Got to keep those stats up 📈

Profile photo of malcolm r
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This Convo seems a repeat with the same lack of decent information or proposals – and the same author. “Broadband must be superfast for everyone” July ’16. Do we think the entitlement to broadband exceeds that of mains gas, mains drainage, or even a decent bus service? P VS doesn’t seems happy about paying £30 a month to get 20 Mbps; why not? Who does he think should pay for his service. I did quite successfully what I needed on a service that ran around 3.2 Mbps accessing the basic tasks I need to complete.

There seems to be misinformation – Aberech quoted as <2Mbps, but BT pointing out most homes have access to fibre with more work currently in hand ("The early bird catches the broadband") and curious justifications for speed – "thanks to my shoddy broadband I may never know what happens in the final scenes of JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which I rented last weekend."(Bad broadband? You’re not alone…")

Profile photo of John Ward
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Quite so, Alfa. The irony of that wasn’t lost in my comment.

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
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I’m sorry we’ve not managed to convince on this one. It’s true that a decent broadband isn’t considered essential for everyone and I’m pleased to hear that the service you receive is suitable.

Broadband is very much seen as the fourth utility. Of course there are the extreme examples of how poor broadband is holding people back, like the farmer example used here, but there are a great many people who cannot carry out simple tasks like emailing or online banking. And as you well know, areas of consumer detriment drive the direction of our campaigns work and we know that poor broadband causes severe frustration for many people.

The purpose of our speed checker is to give those with broadband frustrations the tool to test their own speed – in some cases, as Duncan often explains to people, it can be down to other factors like the positioning of your router, and so we have a guide to explain how to improve speeds yourself. We are also using the speed checker to build our own picture of what connectivity looks like across the UK. I appreciate that there’s a need for more in depth explanation of solutions to our campaigns. While we do start off all of our campaigns with aims and roadmaps to achieve them, we do also need the input of those affected by the situation to help guide us as well as increase the pressure to force change.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Thanks Lauren. Mainly because I like to see factual, informative and properly argued cases, which I don’t think this is. I can be convinced when balanced arguments are put forward. Don’t give up on me. 🙂

Member
NickG says:
22 April 2017

Clearly you don’t live in a rural area. I do live in rural Devon and on a good day we get 1.2 Mbs and this does affect what we can do. Forget streaming video or catchup TV, it takes nearly as long to set up an online shop as it does to drive the 5 miles to the nearest supermarket and do it in person. And on the subject of paying, lets not forget that we don’t pay any Iess than you do for the service, we just get less of it. I also assume that you’re happy for me to carry on paying for your street lights and road gritting even though we don’t get these?

As a final point, it has taken 25 minutes, literally, to make this comment via this interactive form because of the poor speed of the connection and limited type ahead. I doubt I have the patience to have any more views heard.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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What you are talking about NickG is the basic copper service and that is entirely down to distance from the cabinet , so if you are near to the cabinet then on a non-FTTC you could get up to approx 8/10Mbps but typically half that but if you are over a mile from it , dont expect much of a speed . Those with higher speeds are paying extra for FTTC and some have FTTP , they invoke higher broadband package charges . Electricity is transmitted locally at 230V AC (approx ) the AC pressure involved (high voltage ) ensures that you get that at your house. Your telephone line is powered by 50V DC so is affected by distance . Gas has a steady pressure unless there is a gas leak so you cant use the two public utilities (which the internet is not ) as a means of criticising your broadband speed.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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There are presumably advantages to living in rural Devon (and other pleasant parts of the country), as well as known disadvantages that you have traded. Maybe mains gas, drainage, bus service, distance to schools…….. If faster broadband has not yet made it to your part of the world then no doubt it will eventually. I imagine you have not lost the service. or seen a deterioration, but are just waiting for it to improve.

Member
ethicalpeter says:
15 May 2017

I think you are right. My mum has a flat in the centre of Rye which is poor compared to where I live in Rye Foreign. Although I live further from the Bt exchange I get a far better broadband speed. Most of the properties in Rye are ancient where as I live on a 1980s/1990s estate. Utterly amazing!

Profile photo of alfa
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Continuous moaning without suggestions on how faster broadband is going to be achieved gets us nowhere.

I was impressed by B4RN that was mentioned by Norman Silcock on April 10th.
https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/fix-bad-broadband-speed-test/#comment-1482848
https://b4rn.org.uk/

If the rural north west can do it so can others with the right incentives.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Alfa , you have every right to be impressed with B4RN – shock horror !! Lucas is recommending another ISP that is not BT , so all my detractors –take note – I am even handed , only very choosy+ critical. You get your own fixed IP address ( usually reserved for businesses only by other ISP,s ). Your telephone connection is VoIP but you need an uninterruptible power supply to keep your router working for it , if you cease BT,s Line . YOU must provide all the ducting etc from your land boundaries to your home/business/farm and it must be up to standard , when I worked for BT we got special underground REINFORCED cable from the DP (distribution point ) -pole /wall box etc and the private householder just dug a 6 inch trench to his house . That is NOT available from B4RN only normal fibre as well as a deep trench , and of coarse , you need friends/family to do it and obviously if the ducting involves other peoples land -permission from them -NOT always a given . But , yes a very good idea and seemingly good service IF you get on with your neighbours as you might need their help . I am impressed and very few businesses can make me feel that way . For those wanting more detail I will post their info webpage : https://b4rn.org.uk/faqs/

Profile photo of GraceCourt
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You’re right Alfa, but see my comment above, in relation to State Aid. Other schemes want to emulate B4RN’s success but more quickly, but it’s virtually impossible because State Aid isn’t available for such schemes. It’s not uncommon for community schemes to start off down the BDUK State Aid path and then withdraw because the figures just don’t add up when you factor in the provider’s profit.

Yet millions of pounds in State Aid were provided to BT for rural superfast broadband, and in many areas it just hasn’t happened – “white areas” are where complete market failure has occurred and there are no plans whatsoever by anyone to provide superfast broadband. In many of these areas, there is no fibre infrastructure whatsoever, yet since the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, where the need for these was spelled out, BDUK has been desperate for the Alt-Net (alternative network) providers to invest in more fibre networks – but the State Aid rules haven’t changed.

And you know what they say about someone who keeps doing the same thing over and over again, each time expecting a different result…

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Initiative, alfa. And a sensible price. Constructive proposals should be included by Convo authors, rather than whipping up the masses. Perhaps if Which? spent more time and (our) money doing the groundwork we might have more helpful campaigns. At the moment they are still trying to get a petition increased for Whirlpool to recall all affected products – but no explanation as to how, or what it might achieve. But then, my background is science and engineering, not advertising and marketing.

Profile photo of Ian
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Broadband is becoming as essential an aspect of life as is the telephone and possibly more so. I’ve already pointed out that content providers are now tailoring their wares with the assumption that everyone enjoys at least 7mbps (there’s a reason for that) and increasingly, formerly physically accessible services are expecting everyone to be able to use the internet. GP visits over t’interent are not as far off as some might imagine and, although some hark (fondly?) back to the days of 56kbps saying they could do everything they wanted then and wonder why all the moaning now, the reality is that faster speeds are now necessary, if for no other reason than content providers are now loading their pages with mobile graphic advertising which hogs bandwidth to the extent that it becomes difficult to even read an article without waiting until the snappy animations of cute kittens and deranged postmen come to their inevitable conclusions.

So why yet another article? Well, I’m assuming it’s because this is specifically an information gathering exercise, and most of that information will be drawn from the BB speed checker results. And the article is intending to use that information to aid in the W? campaign for super-fast broadband. It’s true not everyone wants or needs high speed broadband, and some might be more than happy to potter away with 56kbps, which is fine for them. But there are many for whom it is far from fine and Openreach in particular needs to be prodded sharply to ensure that everyone can get what they continue to advertise.

As an example, I spoke with a BT technician who had located a fault on my line recently, and he confirmed that bringing fibre optic to the box which serves us was both relatively cheap and very easy: the ducting exists already and there are lines already above the roads leading from the exchange. We were promised it three years ago and we’re still waiting.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Ian-If it was that simple and easy as the BT technician said then the only thing holding it back is cost-v- profitability-ie- the number of subscribers justifying installing fibre , that is how many cabinets have not been uprated to fibre because they provide for the largest number of subscribers first . Exchange side telephone lines always go underground at some point , when was the last time you saw 1000,s of telephone lines on overhead wiring go straight into the exchange ? Having the capability to do something isn’t always achievable in a commercial sense due to constraints of one sort or another . Could you give me practical suggestions as to how Openreach can “improve ” ?

Profile photo of Ian
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Frankly,. Duncan, I believe they should do what they promise – provide high speed BB. It’s not that difficult to do, here. And certainly affordable for them – we’re shareholders, so we see the profits.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Information is important to these discussions. I haven’t digested this Ofcom report, but here it is, and it seems a pity Which? did not think to provide a link to it. Why deny people access to relevant facts? It might bolster the case they try to make, or it might not. Either way, I’d rather not be pushed by an emotive intro.
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/100761/UK-home-broadband-performance,-November-2016-Technical-report.pdf

If the information in this report is robust then why do we think Which? with a Convo and a (claimed) dubious speed checker will provide a better picture than the experts? I would have thought working with data like this, and those who produce it, would be a better use of Which?’s resources.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Thanks for the link malcolm , a lot of statistical info is provided on a % basis , but two points . #1- Virgin Media gets higher % of speed on average -why ? well consider a model “T” Ford and a Buick, Ford started off with a basic design much cheaper but along comes Buick and produces a much higher performance vehicle , in other words we are not talking about a level playing field here , VM came in much later with more modern cable -first co-ax now fibre from the start and , as you know, but has NOT been made apparent VM covers most of the profitable areas of the UK leaving BT looking as though its “not up to scratch ” a sly -media/ government move, as BT covers most of Britain . #2- I have posted several times the REAL figures of distance-v- speed from a FTTC installation , where are OFCOM,s figures there ? This looks a bit “slight of hand” to me.

Profile photo of alfa
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The requirement for ever-increasing faster broadband is fuelled by online viewing of heavy usage TV/film/video viewing.

Why are these monopolising companies not made to pay towards improved broadband services?

Profile photo of malcolm r
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If people want to view these then they should pay for the fast broadband required. My point is these are far from “essential” and I don’t want to subsidise the users from my taxes. I’d like to see the justification for a minimum speed of broadband that allows what many see as “essential” tasks to be accomplished in a reasonable time.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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I agree malcolm.

Profile photo of alfa
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If you pay more for a faster service, won’t the money just go to your ISP?

I am suggesting the companies who put out heavy usage pay towards upgrading services.

Member
Will Barrett Soliz says:
21 April 2017

I’m interested to know the best provider. But really I need to know best package or can you have separate tv phone and broadband? The review does not mention this. I’ve been with Talktalk too long?

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Will recommending a telephone company is not an easy thing to do as none are perfect and if one of the regulars recommended one and you were not happy it would not look good. As you can see from the many convo,s +posts every ISP gets highly criticised . I will give you the reasons I am with BT – its the biggest telephone company in the UK , its knowledge base is vast, in my case they have listened to me when I complain , and although it might take a bit of time they fix the problem , they have a lot more to lose prestige wise than other providers as its always BT that is put forward in the media to be put down . Regardless of the publicity if you really check the figures BT is doing a lot to install FTTC , a lot more than all the others who only want profitable areas and wont outlay to remote areas. Virgin Media get a good write up but even there you get posters complaining of service and their very fast speeds (in % terms ) is because they started from a much later network installation base than BT so installed co-ax and fibre so BT has to cope with remote copper lines . Its going to take a brave poster to recommend a full telephone package , but I will stick with BT .

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L McGregor says:
21 April 2017

I live about 8 miles south of Glasgow. Suburbia, definitely not rural and yet because we are on an exchange only line we cannot achieve speeds much above 6 or 7mb ( around 4 tends to be our average though). It is frustrating that someone literally two streets away can get speeds of 40mb and above because they have fibre to cabinet. EO lines seem not to be a priority 🙁 and we have no other options as our area isn’t cabled. It could be years before we get super fast let alone ultra fast!

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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As I have posted before L.Mc Gregor its a big job converting your EO line to fibre , involving installing 2 cabinets -DSLAM + installing all new ducting, cable runs , Wayleave permissions , digging up council roads avoiding utility services , safety concerns about locating cabinets, and even then for FTTC not all subscribers will get the full benefits until testing is done with the new installations so customers could be let down if they are a good distance from the installed cabinets .

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Somebody doesnt like reality and the truth, check it out those that wont accept it, its engineering wise correct.

Profile photo of NFH
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I used to get almost 900Mbps upstream and downstream, but now this is all I get: http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/6237035096

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Alan Lingard says:
22 April 2017

Come on Which? If you use the same amount of effort on that useless regulator OFCOM as you do on the banks we might get somewhere.
its a scandal that BT spend over 1Bn on football when they could get us all FTTP

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Alan BT is a private company not a public service , check up on Virgin Media and how much in total they spend on entertainment and then we have Sky – $billions on it. Get them to provide FTTP in remote areas with long landlines -fact- they wont .

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jim france says:
22 April 2017

Sutherland. Drumbeg. 400 kilobytes . Yes kilobytes. No other providers available. Just Monopoly BT.
I thought the privatisation of BT was to prevent a monopoly. Oh! yes £15 per month.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Jim , unless your home is on a brand new housing development which had to have all engineering work done from the exchange to your home then BT doesn’t have a “monopoly ” as such . EVERY ISP can, if they wish, provide you with FTTP –they wont – too dear /shareholders wont allow it , so by keeping quiet about the fact they knocked back investing in your area it looks , as if its the “evil ” BT fault . Its a great media play –and it works . IF BT -et al arent upgrading your area to FTTP ( check out the Scottish governments website on up to date fibre installations to remote areas helped by grants from the EDF/ HMG/ and the Scottish tax payers . Lovely area you live in must be very healthy Highland Times- HSF has been provided to Ardgay Sutherland village /Bonar Bridge-part of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project led by the HIE -Stuart Robertson -digital director – BT is also investing in it and unlike elsewhere in the UK , working in harmony with the Scottish government. if over 2Kms away from a cabinet the benefit might not be great. The budget is fixed so not all areas will benefit another project is planned to reach further . in your case you can apply bfor a “Better Broadband ” voucher to help with a microwave/ wireless option. Article dated -February-2017.

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Wael Arab says:
22 April 2017

I tried making a complaint about my broadband speed using Which’s complaint form. But every time I clicked “submit” , it took me back two steps and asked me to put in my actual speed and the speed I was promised. Please attend to that form and make it work.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Wael , just a note , if you have any blockers of any sort as an app on your browser its possible the Jscript will not work and that includes clicking on links . I disable many blockers when posting on Which , its easy enough to prove . The same applies on many websites .

Member
RoverD says:
22 April 2017

There does seem to be different ISP attitude depending on whether you are a private or business user. In S Brum I have fibre to cabinet, then about 1/2 mile copper. Download always around 60 mbps., upload around 18mbps. But when TalkTalk upgraded me to fibre it suddenly became a business package – I don’t know how or why that happened. (When I first used the Which checker it came out at over 100mbps, which is way beyond the router capacity.)
So perhaps even more shopping around is indicated, and even trying the much mocked Talktalk group, about whom I have no complaints, lucky me!

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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You are lucky RoverD you get 24/7 attention from their business call centre which is a higher quality than the public one+other benefits . Unless you are paying a lot I wouldn’t complain about it.

Profile photo of Rover90
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Yes, I’m probably paying a bit too much, but I also gets all landline calls free, and I’ve never yet- touch wood- had to contact anyone for any service problems.

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Bob Shilling says:
22 April 2017

What exactly are the Clowns in our Government doing about Broadband Speeds? Nothing. What exactly are BT doing about Broadband Speeds? Nothing. So the only option is to go Private with B4RN, many villages around the country are now going with this organisation which is based in Lancashire. What does this mean? well it is Fibre Optic with speeds of 30mbps costing £30 per month including VAT and line supplied and maintained by B4RN. This will of course mean that you WON’T have to use BT and it will eventually cut out BT’s business altogether. So good bye BT.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Bob , Although I am a “BT man ” as I posted on the 20th April above in reply to Alfa B4RN is one telecommunications company I too recommend to the British public . You must though, take into consideration a large part of the installation is -DIY- plus you will need help from several , friends, neighbours, relatives and have full legal land access , in addition to a digger for the ducting which you need to provide yourself up to a high standard , but ,yes , I recommend it. Click on the URL I posted above for more info on it.

Profile photo of HH
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This is so current for me at the moment. I have just had no choice but to renew my contract with BT. I have used your broadband speed checker. We are 1MBps. That is good. It is usually less than that, last time BT did their own test, it was too low to register! BT Openreach can offer us nothing. Virgin came to the next village 2 miles away and are not coming here with their fibre optics. We’ve been ditched and are ‘the land that time forgot’. There are 500 people here and we are 10 minutes from 2 major motorways yet BT told me yesterday that we’re lucky that even they bother to give us internet as other internet providers wouldn’t even touch us. Thanks BT!! We are less than 3 miles away from the exchange.

Yes, we’ve got together as a Community to look into the Community Fibre Partnership. We have provided all the information required. That was the beginning of February and we wait to hear from BT. They are in no hurry. Even if this is a yes and that is doubtful, we individually will have to pay 50% of getting fibre here which will cost ££££. It is a sad joke that we are quite possibly going to be thrown to the wolves to fend for ourselves and to endure never being able to download anything (it takes an hour and a half or more to download an hours programme, forget youtube links or any clips on social media), to warily try and make purchases online as it freezes and to try and explain to Easyjet that no you don’t want two seats on a flight, you just refreshed in the hope your purchase had gone through, to continually tell friends and family, no sorry I can’t watch that clip you sent me, I’ve lost the will to live whilst it’s buffering etc.

To add salt to the wound, BT have halved the discount they gave me last year on the internet bill. No reason. It has got worse in the last year but as they know we have no choice but to pay, they have taken advantage of that and taken it away . So our bill has gone up by £12 a month and that is on a contract that guarantees us 0MBps. Fact. I have it in writing.
I do not believe in the Government saying that 95% of the country will have speeds of 24MBps. I can drive to THREE major towns in less than 30 minutes and we have to exist on less than 1MBps.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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HH , sorry to hear your problems , as cables dont run “as the crow flies ” then you will probably coming off a street cabinet and so you have the added distance of the local side of the cabinet connection the-” D” side twisting its way to you , so it might be adding millage to your cable run. If BT are not forthcoming and you all got together to apply for having Fibre installed for a price , I have got to ask -if it is costing ££££ as you say have you applied for FTTP ? or are you applying for FTTC which would probably be situated in your village ? . Next question , have you not considered microwave radio broadband , grants are available for it , have you discussed it at your community council meeting and if so what was the result ? Trying to help -HH.

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I’m not sure about the technicalities as far as FTTP or FTTC. I just know we have applied to the CFP (community fibre partnership) and we await on BT as the next stage in the scheme is for them to pledge to pay 50% of the cost and the community to pay the other half. But it hasn’t been agreed yet. I say it is going to be ££££ which is an assumption on my part but obviously it must be, or wouldn’t BT or Virgin have come here…. (Virgin talk of ‘unforeseen complications’ as to why they can’t put fibre here. They have done every single village in the last 6 months close to us. Just not us. Very galling and I have no idea what ‘unforeseen complications’ means)

We did look into microwave radio broadband I think… but the cost per household was really quite restrictive.

We’re waiting to hear from our local Councillor on what is happening with the latest rollout of fibre. The Council has approved the award of the contract to Gigaclear but it has to be approved. However, his seat is up in the local Elections so I don’t suppose he’s worried about this subject at the moment! (maybe it should be if he wants to get re-elected!)

I know you’re trying to help and I appreciate it. 🙂

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Thanks for getting back HH , the “unforeseen circumstances ” might be Wayleave approval, in other words they are being blocked by private landowners from laying cable or it might just be an excuse. If the other villages have had fibre installed then maybe your village has engineering problems in distance /route but I would need to know if your cabinet is in your village or not . Gigaclear are one of the few telephone companies to do rural , there was an owner of a small microwave radio broadband company who posted on Which recently offering cheap terms , I will try to find his post . If I was you and the other villagers I would find out your councilors position on this before the election and make it part of his re-election policy , I used to be a community councilor so I know the politics of the situation. I am intrigued by Virgin,s comment as an ex.BT engineer and I am trying to put various engineering viewpoints through my head , is your village smaller than the others ? ( no profit ) is it very isolated ? just trying to figure out their comment.

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Ann Broadhead says:
24 April 2017

We live on the outskirts of a village near Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. We work from home; our broadband supplier is a small business supplier which was set up by a broadband technician brought in to upgrade our household internal telephone equipment after finding dial up impossible to work with a few years ago. Our Broadband has deteriorated badly in the last twelve months, to the point that it is almost like dial up. It keeps dropping out, sometimes takes ages to send/receive and downloading the occasional programme on TV takes all night. An urgent email at 7.30 am on a morning sometimes cannot be sent because we have to reset our modem. Some years ago a BT engineer told me that all the points on the line connections are rusty and badly need replacing, I asked how we could get this done; down to open reach to decide when, I was told. At that time Open Reach didn’t speak to members of the public, I tried!. Its so frustrating when trying to run our business and emails take an age to arrive, but then when it does work it is great, I cannot understand why this happens. Every time we complain and have to have an engineer come out we have to pay to be told that there isn’t much they can do because we are so far away from the box. They know about the problems but because we are semi rural and don’t live on an estate, nothing is done. We users have been paying for the use of these lines for years now, surely they should be made to have a policy to renew all old lines. Broadband is a way of life now, as the population grows, more of us oldies will be able to use the internet and everything will go on line so it is/will be as important as gas, electric and water.

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Ann-If your broadband supplier is not BT then the engineer that called to tell you about the “rusty cable” must have been from Openreach. If the cable is “rusty ” does he mean the long run of overhead wiring as what usually happens to underground cable is the connections at the cabinet /and/or connections at the pole DP (Distribution Point) are bad and need re terminated . If the overhead wiring deteriorates then it progressively gets worse , it never gets better and in bad weather noise appears and hum. Copper increases in resistance but that takes decades to happen unless its aluminium which I think is terrible. If engineers keep calling and charging you for call-outs , your external line cant be showing a fault like HLI/LI/Earthing /etc , its possible that the black junction box on the pole is letting in rain but that would mean in bad weather your line would get worse , if it was a high resistance connection in the overhead that would be bad all the time and not “get better ” but might not show up in testing. If your overhead wiring is old you could ask for it to be renewed to the latest spec. that might help a bit . You could (as a business line ) ask for FoD for business ( I take it you are paying for a business line ? ) but that is very expensive . If nobody is willing to take on uprating your line to FTTP then your main option would be microwave radio broadband.

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Gail Barry says:
25 April 2017

I live in a busy urban area, close to a big hospital and Stormont, our Parliament, but I can’t get a good broadband speed. I was with PlusNet last year, the download speed was around 2Mbps and it kept crashing. They charged me horribly big bills, I was on a contract £33 a month, one month they asked for £68. I tried Sky and Virgin but they couldn’t even connect so I finally went to BT. I used them a few years ago but their bills were too large and they kept hiking the price. At least they are the main suppliers who own most of the phone lines so I’ve finally got a, so far, good service. Might my area be overloaded with so many big users around?

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Gail , its very possible that being close to a big hospital could effect your speed due to congestion but it would mean you are unlucky enough to be on the same street cabinet as the hospital . Governments get “special services ” due to security reasons I wont go into so I dont think directly that Stormont is affecting your speed. If you can find out your street cabinet number and the area it covers then you would get a better idea – Openreach has a website where you can input your address/telephone number and you will get information on it. This alternative website gives info on BT broadband availability including cabinet number : http://www.kitz.co.uk/adsl/cabinet-lookup.htm it also helps with additional info. Is your line FTTC ( fibre to the cabinet ) Gail ? or is it an all copper line ?

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keirfree says:
25 April 2017

For anyone contemplating, getting a contract with Utility Warehouse, for broadband/phone services, my experience this year 2016/2017, is as given,
massive problems contacting their member services, 26 minute wait , for a phone to be answered, then to be cut off when being transferred to the relevant dept. more delayed waiting times, Emails unanswered, but they did call back days later, at times inappropriate, even though the same caller, was given times, we could take the calls,No avail.
Good news I swapped to Zen, 13/4/ not a hiccup, no delays in phones being answered,
seamless swap. great technical support, on two occasions, (router set up,and landline probs) Conclusion,, Probably , the best I S P provider.
historical past providers
A O L
B T
Be There. Pity they were bought out by Sky
Plusnet
Utility Warehouse.

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Keirfree- check into the history of Utility Warehouse .part of the Telecom Plus marketing/Holding company . Which thought a lot of them in 2009 and the Institute of Customer Service listed them as “second best ” in 2016. This raises a point – who is right you Keir or others , time for posters to comment /agree/disagree ?

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Christine says:
26 April 2017

Living in rural south west WaChles, we have extremely slow broadband, constantly dropping out, only one of us at any one time can use the internet. BT have put cable at post’s in the valley, but so far we have not been contacted to say when they will be taking orders!! When we complain to BT, we get no improvements in this issue!! Using Which checker, results are Download 3.8 MBPS, Upload 1.3 MBPS!! EE mobile reception is just as bad!! Companies have no knowledge of living without acceptable internet or mobile coverage.

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Carol says:
28 April 2017

We live in Coventry, near Warwick University, just 3 miles from the City Centre. We run an office-based business from home. On a good day we may possibly get a download speed of 4Mbps, but typically 3.5 or less. Our upload speed has been known to reach the dizzy heights of 1Mbps!
Coventry has met its target of 95% superfast and therefore has no interest in the remaining 5%. Fibre is not coming any time soon to our road!
As more of the neighbours get smart TVs, iPads etc the speed just gets slower.
We are able to stream some films but the quality is adjusted to suit our speed and is therefore pretty bad compared to HD on terrestrial TV.
We are getting left behind in technology as more devices, apps etc need faster speed than our 3.5Mbps!

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I sympathise with your position Carol , but if you are using a BT landline (as a BT customer ) as a business line and not paying for a business line service I wouldn’t use that as an excuse as BT would/might charge you with fraud, and yes , as an ex. BT engineer , thats happened to many people. Is there no chance of you getting FTTC or are you miles from the street cabinet ? You have the option of changing your ISP but they also might refuse to uprate your line due to costs.

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D. Penfold says:
28 April 2017

I’m sure everyone would be happy to pay a little more to get better broadband speeds. I got better speed in the middle of the Indian Ocean than I do in Devon. What’s wrong with this country?

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Thats the problem D.Penfold the people in this country (England ) are not willing to pay through taxes for FTTP for the 5 % although, seemingly , the Scottish tax payers are.

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Don says:
29 April 2017

A New Topic:

I live in a rural village in Wales (near the town of Usk), and am with TalkTalk, I am a bit over a mile from a Green Cabinet. My broadband speed is normally around 20 mbps, yet in the early evening it tends to slow to a crawl. The Green Cabinet is connected to the telephone exchange in Usk. Now it turns out that exactly the same thing happens to people in the town (reputedly it’s the children after school using the net). So the problem appears to be the capacity of the broadband link coming out of Usk upstream and not the link from the town to me. This upstream link is unlikely to be owned by TalkTalk (probably Open Reach?), yet TalkTalk (and other ISPs) will get the blame for the problem.

My point is, broadband is the product of several companies and not just the end provider. Surveys of end providers are very misleading and don’t tell the full story. The customer service aspect is a valid point but speed and possibly reliability are not. What I need as a consumer is to know what is causing the bottlenecks, so that I can complain to the right companies (or will the ISP do that on my behalf?).

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Don-You would think your logic is right ( it is in the case of young people using the web at certain times ) but to slap the blame on BT is another matter .If you are into broadband engineering theory have a read of- Where is my Internet Congestion Occurring , its a US website on a theoretical engineering argument between Netflix and Comcast but the same principles apply (heavy reading ) : https://freedom-to-tinker.com/2015/04/02/where-is-internet-congestion-occurring/ Take also into account your exchange equipment will be Talk-Talk,s NOT BT,s so they can apply “the brakes ” as well . Take note line “noise ” can slow down your speed as well. Try connecting your router directly to your Master socket using a LAN cable for a day or two. Your exchange is fibre enabled so you must have FTTC taking into consideration you are over a mile from the cabinet so 20Mbps is reasonable but its a possibility because of the distance noise could creep in only having an effect when congestion occurs.

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I understand how difficult it is to get fibre to remote area such as where I am. However, I have been here since before broadband became the essential service it now is and would be happy to get 5Mbps (lucky to get 2Mbps at the moment and can’t get a mobile signal inside the house either). Unfair that I have to pay the same as those getting 15Mbps and more. Surely if we were charged per Mb rather than the “up to” prices then there would be more incentive to improve speeds to a reasonable level everywhere.

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Aloysia , the money you pay for your broadband via your landline is made up from the cost of maintaining the landline and the exchange equipment as well as the actual broadband facility . Your Master socket could be faulty your external wiring, your overhead wiring , your underground cable , the maintenance on your exchange equipment etc . Because people arent made aware of this because many telephone companies “piggy-back ” BT,s lines and arent interested in it upkeep so it looks like its BT ,s “fault ” that you are being charged , its a fallacy that many still believe that it costs nothing to maintain the external plant . Try telling that to the electricity board or gas board. or the railway companies or your local council upkeep of roads / etc. I should know I spent 19 years on different types of maintenance of BT equipment and it was a 7 days + 2 nights late job most of the time.

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Sue says:
2 May 2017

It’s worth reading this article about all the things that affect broadband speed. It’s not always the actual line. http://www.thinkbroadband.com/guide/broadband-speed.html
Many people don’t realise, for example, how much using Wireless can reduce their speed.

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Andrew Johnson says:
3 May 2017

I am at a loss to understand the broadband provider comparisons. If I understand correctly, access is either via Openreach or Virgin. Virgin coverage is more limited so if you aren’t in a cabled area, this isn’t an option. Openreach speed and reliability vary considerably between localities. Where I live, the choice is between an extremely reliable 200 Mb/s Virgin service or an unreliable 2 Mb/s service with one of the other providers. It’s what works in your street that matters, not national surveys.

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Andrew, broadband providers provide a range of packages for a basic to top end service , they dont take into consideration where you live until you get down to communication with them on your exact location . I am glad your area is cabled by VM and you have a broadband speed of 200 Mbps the problem is they dont look on themselves as socially responsible for high speed broadband over the whole of the UK so dont feel obliged to lay cable to unprofitable areas. Hard-nosed business reality dictates that private businesses are responsible to their shareholders not the British public thats what privatisation is all about and everybody voted for it – get rid of public utilities etc sell-off to private enterprise so you cant treat either BT or Openreach as a public utility but ignore VM . If you want equality of service throughout the UK then only one option is available -re-nationalise, as this wont happen then the reality of the situation must be accepted because a majority of the population wanted it when public companies were sold off .

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If companies such as Virgin are selling packages that make use of fast broadband, should they not be contributing to the cost of the roll out of faster services across the country?

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They dont feel under any obligation Wavechange as all their network including (hidden ) cabinets are supplied and installed by themselves not with any help from HMG . Only BT took up the offer of help conditional on upgrading a certain % of cabinets to FTTC . VM dont actually run FTTP/H at one of their street junction points it is converted to co-ax and a RF signal supplies the data to your home where it is converted back to a normal copper cable . BT are actually ahead of VM in supplying FTTP , VM has only just started its — Project LIghtning in 2016 and has a long way to go . All the rest (apart from some very small communication companies ) use BT/Openreach lines -piggy-backing them.

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Another week has gone by and we still haven’t had a peep out of Ofcom in the parallel Conversation to explain these points about coverage and correct any misunderstandings we might have about the high speed broadband roll-out. Perhaps no-one is reading our comments.

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I would like to see VM, Sky, etc. required to contribute to the costs of fibre broadband because these companies are contributing to the demand for fast broadband and users of their streaming services can create problems for other users, including those who have very modest needs.

I take your point that BT should not be blamed for the fact that many still have a poor service, particularly in rural issues. If I was in charge of BT I would be pushing very hard for the costs of the roll out of fast broadband to be shared with other companies.

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I thought it was being paid for by the government and being implemented by Openreach. We need confirmation or clarification from Ofcom because there seem to be various different understandings of the position, especially progress against the ‘end of 2017’ deadline for 95% coverage, the government’s minimum speed specification, and why so many users reporting here have very poor service with just a few months to go.

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That’s my understanding too, John. What I’m suggesting is that the companies creating the demand for fast broadband and profiting from use of their services should be making a significant contribution to the cost of the roll out of fast broadband.

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Do take into consideration that VM has exclusive rights to an area once its cable is laid and customers take up the offer . Their BT lines care normally ceased and that means -the lot overhead wiring /underground cable etc is used elsewhere. At least one poster here from the West Country found that out to his cost -no more BT. This doesn’t tie in with the picture OFCOM would like for the nation , so they have political/ business problems associated with this.

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Point taken, Duncan, but should not the government be running the show to avoid this sort of problems? Leave it up to companies and they will focus on making a profit rather than providing a service for everyone. It concerns me that in installing FTTC rather than FTTP we are spending money on an obsolescent service rather than looking to the future.

We have privatised companies providing essential services, but the government should be in control of what they are allowed to do.

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And perhaps what they are required to do.

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I agree with you, Wavechange; the companies that are pouring high-volume content down inadequate infrastructure should certainly be contributing to the upgrades – and this includes the betting and gambling companies, film and music streamers, and the on-line games producers. The way to make it work would be to charge the carriers [BT, VM, TalkTalk, etc] who would then have to pass it on to the producers/suppliers [Netflix etc]. Apart from anything else this traffic is making life more difficult through congestion for people who don’t use the services but want quick-&-easy browsing, mailing, shopping and web-searching.

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I certainly don’t want more government money being used to provide entertainment, John. There is also the option of charging according to use, which would not be popular but would help finance the roll out of fast broadband and be fairer.

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Yes, that’s what I meant, Wavechange. My comment was a bit unclear and the second sentence should have read : The way to make it work would be for Openreach [or other infrastructure provider] to charge the service providers [BT, VM, TalkTalk, etc] for carrying the traffic and they in turn would have to pass it on to the content producers/suppliers [films and video, games, betting, etc, sites] who would need to raise their prices to their customers. Sounds a bit cumbersome but I am sure the computers at each point in the chain could handle it. This would generate a flow of external money that could be spent on higher capacity and speed; the downside could be that the producers/suppliers would demand delivery of the capacity they would be paying for as a priority over other broadband upgrades. That would be for Ofcom to resolve.

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Fiona Paterson says:
4 May 2017

It’s all very well to suggest placing a router close to where you’ll be using the web; router instructions recommend plugging it into the main telephone point in the house. Commonly, this is usually in the hall near the front door (frequently the coldest part of the house too!) as that’s where builders install them for cheapness and certainly in older houses there isn’t often a power socket adjacent to the phone point. Personally I don’t sit in the hall when I’m online & nor do I have a power source close to the main telephone point. You also suggest putting the router on a raised surface; again the possibility of doing this is limited as phone sockets tend to be installed at or just above skirting height and like most electrical items these days only comes fitted with a very short length of power cable (some crazy EU directive I suppose) which severely restricts how high it can be placed. Instead of putting the onus of trying to get a decent Broadband speed on the long-suffering customer, broadband providers need to address these basic issues by re-designing the routers to make the above suggestions feasible.

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The engineering problem is that several issues are raised with your post Fiona. #1- the internal wiring in a house legally is the responsibility of the owner of the house and not any telephone company , The telephone company is only liable to the Master socket that is where the engineer tests back to the exchange . #2- many houses have long runs of internal wiring causing a high resistance in the internal connections/bad connections etc. #3- those long runs pick up interference and degrade the broadband connection . No router can compensate what a customer does with their own internal wiring that is why they recommend you plug it into the Master socket . I have a direct run from outside to my Master socket 2 feet from my router which is 1 foot from my PC and connected by a LAN cable . You can ask for the Master socket to be shifted to where ever you want in your house but for legal/engineering reasons you cant ask the local electrician to do it because if a fault develops and you call out your telephone company / Openreach/VM etc and they find its caused by the shifting of the socket you will be charged for the call out . No router can overcome customers who DIY as regards internal wiring causing shorts/ and other faults. As regards wi-fi it depends on the distance from your computer to your router and the thickness of your walls/distance as you can lose up to 50 % of your speed when compared to a LAN cable. Yes you can buy other methods of transmitting wi-fi but dont blame the router company nor your provider if a fault occurs in them.

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When I had an installation done the main socket was put in the room of my choice, near a socket, and the router has 6 ft of cable,; It can also be wall mounted. That solves most potential problems. My main phone also plugs into the same socket; if you have a landline phone you’d want that in a warm part of the house and near a socket outlet.

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Philip Rowe says:
8 May 2017

You mention rural areas not getting the recommended bb speeds together pockets in urban areas. I am in an urban area where at home and at the office Virgin Media is the only provider that can offer speeds greater than 3 mps. Therefore your suggestion to try the lesser known providers is useless. Many of us only have ‘Hobson’s Choice!’

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ian says:
9 May 2017

i have been having email debates with BT for years now , they seem to believe that they can provide me with a broadband download speed of 1.6mbs and charge me the same as someone getting a much higher download speed. I have tried Ofcom but because BT state they will supply me with a speed of 0- 17mbs there is nothing they can do. I have been a customer of BTs for 27 years and have always paid my bills, bills which are going up and I as I refuse to sign up to a contract with BT because they will not give me a better broadband service I cannot avail of cheaper deals.
BT have ignored the infrastructure that supplies my house for over 30 years and now I am paying for their lack of forethought. I know I live in a rural area but this is no excuse for the customer service BT are providing me.

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BT are cutting 4000 jobs across the board -Worldwide –profits plunging 19 % to £2.4 Billion steps are being taken to re-rationalise the company . If people want FTTP for outreached areas then HMG+ OFCOM+the whole industry will need to help ( chip in funds ) Now tell me how the British public expect BT to pay for 100 % fibre to the Premises for GB ?? Have any of you seen Virgin Media+ Vodaphone,s +SKY,s GLOBAL profits ? Yet they are not being pressurised . Yet VM are outlaying £3 BILLION on Project Lightning why because they refuse to cover areas that BT are obliged to cover , it amounts to asset stripping -well known in the USA . Come on you business people cant you see whats before your eyes ? You are prepared for one of the last British companies to go down but not a sqeek of criticism about any US/foreign owned big business.

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Even the Labour Party are not proposing to renationalise BT, Duncan, so I don’t know where that idea comes from! The cost would be astronomical.

In one form or another the cost of supplying fibre to the premises will be borne by those customers that require it. The government is paying for fibre to the cabinet.

The fall in profits in the BT Group’s worldwide operations stems from accounting irregularities in their Italian subsidiary for which the Group has had to make provisions of £500 million. Not all international telecoms markets are as robust as the UK one which is dominated by BT.

Vodafone, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Sky are all UK companies. I believe the full takeover of Sky by 21st Century Fox still awaits European regulatory approval.

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RE-RATIONALISE (verb -past tense) John not nationalise , I know its bad grammar but it makes it easier to shorten the meaning although it is an accepted word , at least in the USA . I was using the other providers as an example of their wealth compared to BT -have a look at Vodaphone,s not whether they were British, or not(revenue £41 billion-operating income- £1,300 billion ) . RM is lobbying TM very heavily and would have a monopoly, if it goes through . Its the political control of SKY that gets me not its size , it heavily influences the public , especially in the USA . Why not ask Vodaphone to wire up 100 % of Britain -FTTP ? , they can afford it , and I bet TM has already asked them and got– no chance – no profit to the 5 % in remote , rural areas with miles of copper.

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Sorry, Duncan, I misread your post. I am not familiar with “re-rationalisation”. I expect in BT’s case it means to sort out their sprawling global empire and concentrate on communication services rather things like exchanges, cables and transmitters. I was also misled by your comment “You are prepared for one of the last British companies to go down but not a squeak of criticism about any US/foreign owned big business“.

Surely, the whole point of any “re-rationalisation” is to stop BT going down. Mr M would be wasting his time talking to Mrs M – the Sky deal is on the table and just awaiting clearance over which she has no control. BT/Openreach won’t provide fibre where it wouldn’t be profitable. That is the government’s obligation and even then Ofcom’s plan is only faster broadband [not necessarily entirely fibre] to 95% by the end of this year. I have seen no evidence that the PM has taken any interest in this policy; Ofcom does the dirty work.

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