Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Poor broadband speeds? Is it all the provider's fault?

Ofcom (Telecoms regulator) wants to help users break out of their broadband contracts if ISP (internet service providers) have not been totally transparent and upfront about potential broadband speeds.

When a customer signs up to broadband the ISP will provide a range of speeds the customer can expect. However the MGALS (minimum guaranteed access line speed) is not often quoted. This speed in effect, means the fastest download speed delivered to the slowest 10% of customers on a similar service. In other words, the slowest of the slowest speed.

The new ruling means that customers will be able to back out of their contract within the first three months, without paying a penalty, if their broadband speeds do not meet with certain criteria. The ISP will be given a "reasonable" opportunity to fix any problem.

Clearly, if speeds are slow, moving to another provider isn't necessarily going to fix the problem if the same copper lines are used. Also, how will the customer prove their property is in the slowest percentage?

We certainly applaud any action that backs the consumer being able to rescind their contract due to misrepresentation of speeds or shoddy customer service, but would like to point out that there are other factors that will undoubtedly affect broadband speeds and these should therefore be taken into account, before automatically blaming the internet service provider.

1.  The quality of the copper line from the exchange to the property can be incredibly old and although good speeds are attainable, the quality can affect the consistency of the broadband, often causing dips and drops. If you have fibre to the cabinet, the fibre to the actual cabinet travels through fibre optic cable, but reverts to copper cable from the cabinet to your home or office, so bear this in mind.

2.  Internal networking and cabling in the home or office could be to blame.

3.  If you are downloading masses of data, this will impact on speeds and when the children are streaming videos to their mobile devices and TV on demand is running at the same time, the speed of the connection will be affected. The downloading of data at certain times of the day i.e. after school when the children are home means a strain is put on speeds.

We often see companies with one broadband and with many of their staff downloading information on their personal android phones or laptops, which will have an impact on speed, and often the employer doesn't even have a clue!

4.  The router itself can be a problem.  We often see routers that are old, have out of date firmware installed or are simply not up to the job. It is a case that a cheap buy is not necessarily a good buy! Buy the best you can afford and keep it updated.

5. Wireless networks, often used at home, will affect the speed of the connection. The further away from the wireless router the weaker the signal.  So if the router is on one floor and you on another you are going to encounter a slower speed, which you cannot blame the broadband for.  It's a wireless issue.

If you are suffering from slow broadband, just check your situation carefully before complaining.  Give us a call for more guidance on routers or networking and broadband speeds.

Read full BBC article here


The Merlin Team

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