Broadband speeds and broadband testing - get an SLA

You may have read Cliff Saran’s summary on ComputerWeekly.com of the newbie OFCOM report on broadband speeds recorded across the UK by the various operators.

While Tiscali (not surprised they were up for sale) came on the rocky bottom, it was not alone in underperforming. According to the report, nearly one fifth of UK broadband customers on an 8Mbps connection have actually been receiving less than 2Mbps.

Of course, testing of broadband in this way is pretty unscientific [unlike Broadband-Testing!], with time of day, week, month, geography etc all having major impacts, but it’s pretty clear that the contention ratios set by the providers are not exactly in favour of the customer.

Let’s face it, if you’re subscribed to a service with a 40:1 contention ratio and you’re paying for an 8Mbps service, at peak times you’re doing pretty well to get a quarter of that, rather than 1/40th.

Not that this is acceptable, it isn’t. The problem is that, with ADSL being a contended (shared) service, a service provider isn’t going to offer you an SLA and without an SLA you’re stuffed.

This is why I keep banging on about the many and various optimisation technologies I test because these DO provide a solution.

For example, with the recently tested Voipex VoIP over ADSL product I tested and blogged about, it IS possible for a service provider to offer you an ADSL service for voice and data WITH an SLA. Then you have a leg to stand on in the event of not receiving what you have coughed up for.

Of course, the service provider will charge MORE for a service with an SLA, not least because there are some inherent costs involved for them in acquiring the additional technology.

BUT – we’ve worked out that the ROI on the investment required with Voipex by a service provider is around 4 months. So I’m sure many of you would be happy to sign up for such a service if you only had to pay extra for, say, the first 6-12 months and then the tariff came down?

If so, start badgering your ISP/TelCo right now. The technology is here AND it is very affordable for both parties.

Of course, the UK isn’t the only country to suffer underperforming broadband networks (from a customer perspective). I just checked my ADSL line to my apartment (where I’m working out of today) in Andorra and my 1Mbps downlink speed is actually 0.73Mbps and my 256Kbps uplink speed is 230Kbps – so 27% and a few wee % short of the mark respectively.

I have the option to switch to 100Mbps FTTH as I mentioned in a previous blog, but I’ve put this on hold on being told that I might be without an Internet connection for 15-30 days, less than ideal, especially when the mobile data option here doesn’t extend beyond GPRS.

For a third reference, we’ve just tested the speeds of the feeds at the office in France, where we’re paying for 8Mbps down and 1Mbps up and the results were: 7.29Mbps down and 0.82Mbps up.

So I guess the answer is, er, go live in France. Remember the wine’s cheaper as well…

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I was getting about 3-4mb out of my 10mb Virgin broadband connection. So I complained and they sent me a new modem and now the average nearly all times of the day is above 9.5mb though 9.8mb is not uncommon, as it is just now at 17.38pm
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My Uk 'up to 8' internet runs at a typical (?) 3.5ish. When I originally upgraded from a 1meg line it ran consistently over 4.5. But even the degradation is not the real problem. The problem is that nowadays the speed is not consistent, on bad days and on random occasions it stutters and stalls for a hour or so, and during those periods web pages hang half loaded and even low res streaming video breaks up. On those occasions Speedtest net will report anywhere between 2 and 0.5 meg depending if it catches a stall. And as you mention the french, our french holiday hideaway, miles from a tiny village, regularly delivers 5 to 6 meg and at half the cost of the UK.
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