“From today, new advertising rules will force internet service providers (ISPs) to be more upfront about exactly how fast your connection should be. Previously, broadband providers could entice people with tantalisingly fast “up to” speeds so long as they were available to at least ten per cent of customers at any time of day. The new average speeds must be available to at least 50 per cent of customers at peak times – i.e. when you’re actually at home trying to stream Netflix in 4K or make a Skype call that doesn’t drop out every two minutes.
Take Sky Broadband as an example. It’s already adhering by the new Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) rules and as a consequence its 17Mbps service is now billed as 11Mbps. Add in the usual caveats of poor Wi-Fi signal, bad wiring and other interference and that number will fall further still. But honesty doesn’t address the underlying issue: the UK’s broadband infrastructure remains a cheap, outdated mess.
Think you’ve signed up to fibre broadband? Think again. Unless you’ve got fibre to the home, then your connection is actually a mix of fibre and copper – fibre all the way to the nearest roadside cabinet and copper up to your front door or building. So while everyone will now have to be (more) honest about speeds, they can still be economical with the truth when it comes to exactly how your home is hooked up.
And that makes a big difference. The UK’s fibre to the home infrastructure is so poor it’s out-performed by almost every other country in Europe (Latvia, with 50.6 per cent fibre coverage, ranks first in terms of market penetration). The number of fibre subscribers in Europe increased by 20.4 per cent to 51.6 million in 2017. Of the major European countries, Spain (17.5 million) and France (14.9 million) are the major success stories.
Across Europe, the number of fibre to the home and fibre to the building subscribers reached 51.6 million. In total, more than 148 million homes now have the ability to access such connections.
Part of that is down to the realities of bricks and mortar. Fibre to the home is easier to install in big apartment blocks, which are more commonplace on the continent than in the UK. The makeup of who runs and owns the infrastructure also plays a part. In the UK, that’s (mostly) Opeanreach, which until recently wasn’t keen on sharing. Recent regulatory changes mean it now has to let providers other than BT use its underground ducts and overhead poles to install their infrastructure. …”