The Ofcom Consumer Panel has just called for action to be taken against ISPs who advertise the maximum theoretical speed available on an ADSL line, knowing full well that the majority of their customers will never come close to achieving the full ‘up to’ speed.
Colette Bowe, chairman of the Ofcom Consumer Panel and sometime memo-leaker called for Ofcom to draw up a robust code of conduct for ISPs that would force providers to be more honest with their customers during the sign up process: “This code would establish agreed processes to give the customer the best information during and after the sales process, and to give them flexibility to move freely to different packages that reflect the actual speeds with which their ISPs are able to provide them.”
As everyone has come to realise, often the hard way, ADSL speeds are mostly affected by the distance between the exchange and the customer’s house, the efficiency and performance of the router and the general processing power of the computer itself. The Advertising Standards Agency has repeatedly hauled ISPs over the coals in the past for omitting details in ad campaigns which could have potentially misled customers – Sky and Virgin both recently got a ticking off over a series of print-based ads and Tiscali did a naughty with a radio ad in the summer.
“This information would help consumers understand the technical issues affecting their broadband speeds, and over which they have control. It would also provide quality of service information to assist in their decision over which ISP to opt for,” continued Bowe.
In a nutshell, the OCP chairman has pretty much described the whole Broadband Finder ethos; customers can make use of our Line Speed Check and Speed Test tools to get a rough estimate of what broadband speed they can expect based on distance between the nearest exchange and any given postcode, so they know what to expect.
We welcome the comments by Colette Bowe and hope that Ofcom and providers take note – the first ISP to ditch ‘up to’ and replace it with ‘at least’ is sure to do well in earning consumers trust.
Posted by Tom on December 19th 2007 in Broadband, Sky Broadband, Tiscali, Virgin Media
Just in time for Christmas, Tiscali have given their broadband packages a revamp, so that all of their customers can now enjoy up to 8Mbps download speeds regardless of what package they subscribe to.
Customers previously on the 2Mbps package that came with free weekend and evening calls will be migrated to the Option 1 package (8Mbps, 5GB download limit), whilst customers on the standalone 2Mbps package will be moved to Option 2 (8Mbps, 10GB download limit). 8Mb Unlimited customers will be largely unaffected by the move, as Option 3 offers pretty much the same – 8Mbps speeds with an unlimited download limit.
What’s changed is that Tiscali are no longer giving away the USB modem with their basic package – this has instead been replaced with a wireless router, which is available to Option 2 and Option 3 surfers for a one-off £20 upgrade fee. Presumably Tiscali are keen to push wireless solutions in an effort to facilitate the growth of their IPTV service throughout 2008.
Posted by Tom on December 19th 2007 in Tiscali
The brand-spankin new just in time for Christmas My Account section of Broadband Finder is now live and kicking.
At you My Account page, you can post blogs, comments and reviews about your various ISP experiences over the years, back in the good old days of dial-up, how things have changed/improved since then, what your views on the future of UK broadband are (Fibre to the home! Woo!) and anything else you want to give your two cents on. You can sign up and/or log in by clicking on the appropriate My Account tab situated up and to your right of this post, on the silver navigational tab bar at the top of the screen.
Also, whilst they’ve been shackled to the workbenches, the Broadband Finder code monkeys have also come up with another ingenious feature – we are now proud to announce the activation of the Broadband Finder Live Speed Test, located in the Broadband Tools section, next to the Connection Checker and Postcode Line Check tools.
Unlike the Line Checker tool, which provides a rough estimate of the top speed you can
achieve based on the distance between the nearest exchange and your house, the Speed Test tells you exactly what speed you are currently connected at.
Posted by Tom on December 19th 2007 in Broadband
Remember in the early to mid 90′s when anything that was branded as being ‘interactive’ or having ‘multimedia’ capabilities was seen as being the very acme of cutting edge and zeitgeist irrespective of whether it was actually either of those terms or indeed any cop at all?
Well it looks as though IPTV is set to become the ‘interactive multimedia’ of 2008 in terms of it being absolutely everywhere and probably misunderstood by quite a few people in the frantic scramble by all of the main players in the broadband league to make sure they’ve got the correct IPTV eggs in the right basket.
Regular readers will know that IPTV is, put simply, video content downloaded from the interweb and played on a compatible TV screen via a digital set-top box which connects with your router.
the BT Vision menu, in all it’s shiny purple glory
In this sense, BT are already paving the way, connecting just over 100,000 of their 4 million customers to the BT Vision platform. BT are thought to be rolling out their Home Hub – required for BT Vision to work – to PlusNet customers in the new year. Tiscali have also been busy acquiring rights to desirable content including the ‘missing’ Sky channels (Sky One, Sky Sports News etc) and on-demand movies. Orange have made noises and indeed have carried out trials of a similar service, but have put off a launch until the time is, ahem, ripe.
O2 are also set to launch an on-demand IPTV service in 2008 to compete directly alongside fellow mobile network/ISP Orange. O2 have launched an IPTV platform in the Czech Republic and already have deals with content providers Warner Bros, HBO and Paramount in place, and France Telecom, who own Orange, run a successful service in France.
With regard to IPTV if current trends continue, then it looks as though IPTV will become the must-have of next year as everyone struggles to offer what the competition already does – Sky and Virgin Media notwithstanding for obvious reasons. Ultimately, all this seems to point to is an extra level of strain on the already strained and long obsolete copper infrastructure as everyone struggles to play catch-up.
Posted by Tom on December 19th 2007 in Broadband, BT Broadband, O2 Broadband, Orange Broadband, PlusNet, Sky Broadband, Tiscali
Good things really do come to those who wait. O2′s broadband service is the best in the UK, according to recent poll conducted by Thinkbroadband.com. The mobile network provider and ISP scored 74 per cent for speed, 72 per cent for reliability and, crucially, 79 per cent for customer service.
It seems that O2′s wait and see approach paid off. Whilst watching competitors trip over themselves to buy up the next ISP they could afford, O2 waited for the cream to rise to the top and made a bid. O2 bought Be Broadband last summer for a cool £50 million, but did not immediately rebrand the network, instead allowing it to grow first before launching its own services on the Be infrastructure.
Sebastien Lahtinen, co-founder of Thinkbroadband.com, said: “O2 has entered a very competitive market with highly compelling services and our users have clearly indicated that they currently perform very well in all three categories against the large established operators.”
Posted by Tom on December 18th 2007 in Be Broadband, Broadband, O2 Broadband
Tiscali intend to go one better than BT, well, one hundred thousand better. The Italy-based ISP is launching a campaign in January to offer a triple-play service of fixed line calls, broadband and IPTV across the continent, hoping to sign up 200,000 customers by the end of 2008 – BT Vision currently has 100,000 customers, which is supposedly in-line with their predictions of signing up ‘hundreds of thousands’ of customers in 2007.
Tiscali’s UK network currently covers 55 percent of the country and currently serves over three million customers, roughly two thirds of which are broadband customers.
The company said it expected its revenue to grow at an annual rate of 17 per cent and reach €1.3 billion in 2008 and more than €2 billion by the end of 2012.
This news falls in line with Tiscali’s earlier pledge this month to focus on LLU investment in the British and Italian markets.
Posted by Tom on December 18th 2007 in Broadband, BT Broadband, Tiscali
Orange have postponed the launch of its broadband television service until sometime in the new year. Initially due to be launched before Christmas to run against market leaders BT, Virgin Media and Sky, Orange are instead keen to expand their LLU reach further before launching a nationwide rollout of the IPTV service – currently, Orange’s LLU fishnet is said to cover just under 50% of the UK population.
Orange have announced that MGM and Disney-ABC International have already signed on as content providers, and many more are said to be keen to hop on board.
But with BT already connecting over 100,000 customers to its BT Vision platform, should the broadband market leader have cause to worry? France Telecom, the corporate parent of Orange, already runs a lucrative IPTV service in la France and hopes to replicate the success over here.
Having said that, Orange have been quietly soldiering on with trails conducted with 350 customers in Leeds and London. Tim Pearson, director of digital TV for Orange, said: “A nationwide roll-out of home digital TV demands an excellent viewer experience. The feedback from customers watching digital TV from Orange in London and Leeds will be essential as we roll out across the UK next year.”
Posted by Tom on December 17th 2007 in BT Broadband, Orange Broadband
Since our launch, we’ve been getting quite a few emails and messages from readers here at Broadband Finder, and so we’ve kept our code monkeys locked away in the forges, working day and night on a new feature designed to give readers a soapbox of their own.
The forthcoming My Account section of Broadband Finder will allow you to post your comments and reviews on experiences you have had with netware and ISPs and any general thoughts you might have about broadband in the UK.
Your reviews will be posted in the Broadband Directory area of the main site, where you’ll be able to read and post comments on other people’s reviews, subscribe and unsubscribe to our newsletters, our blog and the various news feeds.
Watch this space!
Posted by Tom on December 14th 2007 in Broadband
As part of new Virgin big cheese Neil Berkett’s plan for the company to ‘Do Less Properly’ and focus on their ace card – cable broadband – the ISP is to ease up on its much maligned traffic shaping policy in early 2008.
Previously, if you were among the top five percent of users who were downloading the most in your local area during the peak time of 4pm to midnight, then your connection would be choked to half of your current speed for a total period of eight hours.
Now the sin bin has been reduced to a three percent margin, the peak time window has been shrunk to a 4pm-9pm slot, and the chokehold now only lasts for five hours instead of the previous eight.
Size: M users will see their 2Mbps speed whittled down to 1Mbps if they download more than 300MB in the peak time period. Size: L surfers will see their 4Mbps speed quartered to 1Mbps if they stray over the 800MB threshold and the speed of XL users will be squished from anything up to 20Mbps to 5Mbps if they exceed the 3GB limit during peak time.
Similarly, limits are in place for users uploading excessive amounts of data. M users will be cut down to 128Kbps if more than 150MB is uploaded. The upload limits for Size: L and Size: XL users are 325MB and 1250MB with speeds dropping to 128Kbps and 192Kbps respectively.
Posted by Tom on December 11th 2007 in Broadband, Virgin Media
Following on from their recent deal made with Wi-Fi provider The Cloud, Orange have announced the development of a new router that will surely appeal to users unable to get a decent broadband connection due to fixed line issues.
The Orange Flybox allows users to connect to the net via a Wi-Fi connection, therefore bypassing the physical problems of ADSL. The Flybox contains an integrated SIM card and will provide speeds of up to 1Mbps within a 3 kilometer radius of the nearest exchange.
Whilst this is not especially fast speed, broadband via Wi-Fi is a practical solution for ADSL customers who can’t even get 1Mbps on a standard line due to any number of reasons; exchange proximity, the age of the copper, etc.
The Flybox will provide a ‘line’ for voice calls as well as four ports for networking capabilities. The router is due to be released in Spain next month and will come to the UK later on in the new year.
Posted by Tom on December 7th 2007 in Broadband, Orange Broadband
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