Regular Broadband-related news and comment from the team.

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Download speeds

New guidelines for advertising maximum download speeds

Posted on 2011-10-19 13:05 in News

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) have published guidelines on how Internet Service Providers should be describing their speeds in advertisements. Currently ISPs advertise using 'up to' speeds based on the highest speed available in the most ideal situation. Unfortunately, these speeds are rarely achieved by the majority of broadband lines, making advertised speeds misleading, and confusing many potential customers in the process.

The new guidelines - which ISPs are expected to be following by April 1st, 2012 - state that ISPs can only claim to provide maximum speeds that at least 10% of their customers can achieve. ISPs will be expected to justify their advertised speeds every 6 months based on actual usage data, ensuring that figures are kept up to date.

While this is unlikely to affect maximum advertised speeds for Virgin Media cable (already well within the suggested guidelines) and should have little affect on Fibre to the Cabinet solutions such as BT Infinity, the advertised speeds for telephone line broadband (ADSL) may well drop from up to 20/24Mbps down to 18Mbps, or even 13Mbps, depending on the ISP.

This variation is because speeds available for broadband supplied over telephone lines are very much dependent on the length of the line between the local exchange and the property. The longer the line, the lower the maximum download speed. Variation between individual ISPs may be due to how over-subscribed (highly contended) their service is and whether the product is supplied using older technologies (such as 'up to 8Mb' ADSL Max) in some areas.

Although this should allow better comparison between different broadband providers and their services, critics of the new rules point out that potential customers are still likely to be confused by the new advertised speed figures as most will be in the 90% that are unable to achieve the maximum speeds. A side effect of the new regulations means that some small proportion of users will soon be in the confusing position of having speeds higher than the advertised maximum.

Critics argue that broadband advertising should make it clear that speeds available over telephone lines are hugely dependant on the customer's individual line and that customers should be encouraged to enter their postcode or phone number for a personalised estimate. Broadband providers are already required to give an estimate of expected download speed before the customer commits to signing up, and comparison sites such as's availability checker will give estimates of all the broadband speeds available to any particular line.

In addition to these new advertised speed guidelines, new rules regarding the use of the term "unlimited" in reference to download allowances will also come into play:

  • The term "unlimited" can only be used if the customer incurs no additional charge or suspension of service as a consequence of exceeding a usage threshold associated with a Fair Usage Policy (FUP), a traffic management policy or similar
  • Limitations that do affect the speed or usage of the service must also be moderate only and clearly explained in the advertisement (small print is not enough)
  • Controversially, traffic management policies limiting the performance of particular uses of the service (such as file sharing or streaming video) can still be maintained on an 'unlimited' product

While there are concerns that these new rules are not enough and are still open to confusion, it can still be considered a large step in the right direction to allow consumers to be able to make their choices with more accurate information available to them.



EXPIRED: TalkTalk offer Essentials and Plus packages from £5 a month with free router and installation

Posted on 2011-10-14 17:29 in Offers Expired

TalkTalk are now offering their Essentials and Plus packages at a reduced price for the first year, along with free installation and a free wireless router.

TalkTalk Essentials - £5 for the first 12 months
TalkTalk Plus - £10 for the first 12 months

If Fibre to the Cabinet is available in your area, you could take advantage of these offers for just £10 a month more with TalkTalk's Fibre Optic Boosts, which offer speeds of up to 40Mb.

TalkTalk Essentials with Fibre Optic Boost - £15 for the first 12 months
TalkTalk Plus with Fibre Optic Boost - £20 for the first 12 months

Monthly line rental of £13.80 applies, though you can take advantage of their Value line rental - pay £114 for a year upfront, and make a saving of £51.60. A £25 activation fee applies on Fibre Boosts.


National Average Speeds September 2011

Average broadband speeds stable in September but FttC suppliers see gains

Posted on 2011-10-03 13:45 in Announcements News

September 2011 saw average download speeds recorded by users of our Broadband Speed Test remain stable compared to August's result with a drop of only 0.06Mb down to 8Mb. Average upload speed also remained stable with a 0.05Mb gain to 1.26Mb.

Despite the stable overall result, individual ISPs saw significant changes. Virgin Media's average download speed again dropped after gains in July, now averaging 14.79Mb, but FttC providers BT Broadband and Eclipse saw gains in their average speeds, up to 7.84Mb and 7.3Mb respectively, presumably due to the continued rollout of Fibre to the Cabinet to new telephone exchanges allowing more customers to switch from up to 20Mb ADSL services to the faster BT Infinity and Eclipse Fibre services.

The best performing non-fibre-based provider was BE and O2 (who share a common infrastructure) who took 4th place with 6.69Mb average download speed over its Local Loop Unbundled ADSL2+ service.

Read more Broadband Speed Test Results for September 2011



Eclipse offer new residential Fibre Optic deals

Posted on 2011-09-20 17:30 in Features

Eclipse Internet have introduced a range of new Fibre Optic deals for home users, with download speeds of up to 40Mb and upload speeds of 2Mb. For £5 a month, customers can upgrade to 10Mb upload speeds. Usage allowances range from 10GB to unlimited.

Eclipse Internet Home Fibre 10GB - £21.50 per month
Eclipse Internet Home Fibre 20GB - £25 per month
Eclipse Internet Home Fibre 50GB - £29.50 per month
Eclipse Internet Home Fibre 100GB - £37 per month
Eclipse Internet Home Fibre Unlimited - £59 per month

Installation (worth £100) is currently free on 24 month conracts, with a free router (worth £50) for both 24 and 12 month contracts.



Expired: Sky Broadband offer £25 M&S vouchers with their television packages

Posted on 2011-09-15 18:12 in Features Offers Expired

Updated: From 29th September Sky are offering £25 M&S vouchers instead of £50 vouchers.

For a limited period, Sky Broadband are offering £50 M&S vouchers to new customers when they sign up for their Sky+ and Sky+HD television packages.

Sky Broadband Broadband and TV Starter
Sky Broadband Unlimited with TV
Sky Broadband Unlimited with Movies

This offer is in conjunction with current deals offering free Sky+ boxes and free standard setup.


National Average Speeds August 2011

Average broadband speeds fall in August, but with notable improvements for Eclipse

Posted on 2011-09-01 17:12 in Announcements News

August 2011 saw average download speeds recordered by users of our Broadband Speed Test drop from last month's results to 8.06Mb, with average upload speeds holding stable at 1.21Mb due to the higher upload speeds available from Virgin Media and Fibre to the Cabinet providers. This pattern is pretty consistent across most of the ISPs listed, with the notable exception of Eclipse. Their figures rose significantly, with average download speeds at 7.15Mb and average upload speads breaking the 1Mb barrier at 1.20Mb, likely due to a pick up in their FttC deals. Likewise, BT also saw an increase in average speeds over last month, though to a lesser extent than Eclipse, clocking in download speeds at 7Mb and upload speeds at 1.20Mb.

Virgin Media held steady with average upload speeds at 2.48Mb, though average download speeds dropped to 16.97Mb. However, with Virgin Media rolling out upgrades for their high-end 100Mb service across the country, these figures will likely increase significantly in future months.

Read more Broadband Speed Test Results for August 2011



Expired: Plusnet Value Broadband Half Price With Phone Packages

Posted on 2011-08-23 15:30 in Offers Expired

Plusnet are offering 12 months half price on Value Broadband packages when you sign up for one of their phone deals. Prices are from £3.24 a month:

Plusnet Value with Home Phone Evenings & Weekends
Plusnet Value with Home Phone Anytime

Line rental of £11.99 is required for both packages. Evening and Weekends call plan included as standard, Anytime call plan costs £3.50 per month.