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Ultrafast ISPs failing customers on broadband speed, claims Which?

Statistics produced by consumer rights advocacy group Which? seem to show that people who buy faster broadband services are being badly underserved

Consumers who expect faster broadband speeds from high-end superfast and ultrafast fibre-based packages are being failed by their internet service providers (ISPs), according to statistics produced by consumer rights group Which? as part of its Fix Bad Broadband campaign.

Which? analysts compiled data from 226,000 speed checker tests conducted between January and March 2017 on fixed consumer connections and found that, overall, speeds recorded in these tests were only 58% of the speed that users expected to get.

Moreover, the faster the expected speed, the wider the expectation gap between what users thought they should be receiving and what they were actually receiving.

The data showed that users who had been sold the promise of speeds in excess of 30Mbps – which for the purposes of the test included all connections delivering higher speeds than that, up to 500Mbps – were on average only receiving 54% of the anticipated speed.

“People who think they have signed up for faster broadband speeds are the most likely to be disappointed, with our research showing many are generally getting speeds that are much slower than they expected,” said Which? managing director of home services and products Alex Neill.

For a customer on Virgin Media’s top-end Vivid 300 package – one of the UK’s fastest widely-available services which is sold as “up to” 300Mbps with an average peak download speed of 283Mbps – this means they could be receiving just 162Mbps.

For the more common BT Infinity fibre-based service, sold as “up to” 76Mbps, this would drop to 41Mbps, which is still very fast, but far below the claims made by BT.

However, users on packages providing between 10 and 30Mbps received 89% of what they expected, and those expecting to get speeds of 10Mbps or lower exceeded their expected speed by 38%.

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“Consumers need to regularly test their broadband speed to check they are getting the service they are paying for. If they aren’t they should contact their provider so that any issues with their service can be resolved,” said Neill.

Matthew Hare, chief executive of ultrafast ISP Gigaclear, said that the research clearly showed how the expectation of faster broadband speed and better performance was still growing as more pressure is put on connections.

“Full fibre, unlike the legacy copper network, delivers the speed that the customer wants, not the speed that the old copper cables can deliver,” he said. “Consumers are looking for a level of choice with their broadband, just like they have with other utilities. Full fibre provides not only that, but is a future-proof solution to an ongoing issue.”

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