“Advertised broadband speeds fall dramatically after rule change “

“Broadband providers have dramatically cut their advertised speeds following a recent rule change to prevent misleading claims, a consumer group has found.

Which? analysis of the UK’s biggest broadband providers found that 11 have had to cut the advertised speed of some of their deals since the new rules came into effect in May, with the cheapest deals dropping by an average 41 per cent.

The move has forced a number of providers to admit that they offer 10Mbps or 11Mbps, which is widely considered as the slowest acceptable speed for home internet.

These include BT, EE, John Lewis Broadband, Plusnet, Sky, Zen Internet, Post Office, SSE, TalkTalk and Utility Warehouse.

Previously they all advertised their standard broadband deals as “up to 17Mbps”, around a third higher.

Under the new tougher rules, home broadband providers must now ensure that at least 50 per cent of their customers can achieve advertised speeds during peak times.

They had previously been allowed to advertise “up to” speeds as long as they were available to a minimum of just 10 per cent of customers, resulting in widespread complaints from Government, consumer groups and the public.

Which? found that across all the deals on offer from the 12 biggest providers, the advertised speeds from “up to 17Mbps” to “up to 100Mbps” had decreased by an average 15 per cent. …”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/03/advertised-broadband-speeds-fall-dramatically-rule-change/

“Rural areas at risk of terminal decline warn council chiefs”

Owl says: is EDDC paying too mych attention to Cranbrook and the Greater Exeter Growth Area p, leaving the rest of the district to wither on the vine?

“Unaffordable housing, an ageing population unable to access health services, slow broadband and poorly skilled workers make for a deepening divide between town and country.

The threat is exposed in the interim report of the Post-Brexit England Commission set up by the Local Government Association to examine challenges faced by non-metropolitan England.

Young people are struggling to stay in rural communities where the average house price is £320,700 – £87,000 higher than the £233,600 average of urban areas, excluding London, the report said.

Rural firms grapple with patchy mobile and broadband connections which cuts off access to new markets.

Councillor Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, said: “Rural areas face a perfect storm.

“It is increasingly difficult for people to buy a home in their local community, mobile and broadband connectivity can be patchy.

“People living within rural and deeply rural communities face increasing isolation from health services. If Britain is to make the most of a successful future outside the EU, it’s essential our future success is not confined to our cities. Unless the Government can give non-metropolitan England the powers and resources it needs, it will be left behind.”

Tom Fyans, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Affordable housing, public transport, high speed broadband and thriving rural economies are all interdependent.

“If our market towns and villages are to thrive once again we must make sure that rural communities are attractive places to live and prosper for people of all ages.”

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/983495/uk-housing-crisis-countryside-rural-areas-at-risk-terminal-decline-warn-council-chiefs

“Universal broadband speed plan ‘unambitious’, say Lords”

“The government has been told to “up its game” over plans to guarantee a minimum internet speed for all broadband users.

Peers said the current Universal Service Obligation (USO), which will entitle consumers to a minimum internet speed of 10Mbps, was “unambitious”.
But the government said the USO was a “safety net” and it had “much greater ambitions”.

“The USO has an important part to play in ensuring that no-one is left behind,” it added.

Labour spokesman Lord Stevenson of Balmacara opened the debate by sying the House had previously asked for the USO to specify a download speed of 30Mbps, but the general election halted work on the issue.
He said the current USO plans contradict other government initiatives.
“Surely the architecture of the USO has to be consistent with the government’s productivity plan, the industrial strategy and the national infrastructure plan.

“The argument is that without some ambition the USO itself may become a constraint on all these important challenges,” he said.

Liberal Democrat Lord Foster of Bath said the current plans would see a continuation of the “digital divide”.

A ‘smokescreen’

Conservative backbenchers also expressed frustration, with Earl Cathcart complaining about the “appalling” speeds he receives at his home in Norfolk.
He told of being unable to download a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs report.

He added: “So I have to ring up my agent in Norwich, get him to print it out and send it to me in the post.

“That’s hardly 21st Century communications, but at least the post is reliable.”

In the same debate, crossbencher the Earl of Lytton called for a ban on using the term “up to” in advertised internet speeds, labelling them “a smokescreen of the first order” that allowed providers “to conceal poor performance”.

Digital minister Lord Ashton of Hyde said: “The USO has an important part to play in ensuring that no-one is left behind,” and the present minimum specification was being kept under review.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44378234

Truth in Broadband advertising

“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. …”

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/uk-broadband-speeds-fibre-to-the-home

Rural broadband still a second-class service

Owl says: it will drag down the “doubling of growth” our LEP promised us. But perhaps they mean in urban areas only.

“There has been a marked improvement in home broadband, according to an annual survey by the UK’s communications watchdog Ofcom.

It said that average fixed-line download speeds rose by 28% over the year to 46.2 megabits per second, while uploads gained by 44% to 6.2 Mbps.

It added that the typical household now consumed 190 gigabytes of data a month, in large part due to the use of Netflix and other streamed TV services.

But rural consumers still lag behind.

Ofcom said:

in urban areas, 59% of connections delivered average speeds topping 30 Mbps over the 20:00-22:00 peak-time period – meeting the watchdog’s definition of “superfast” – while 17% were under 10 Mbps.

but in rural areas, only 23% of connections surpassed 30 Mbps over the same hours, while 53% were under 10 Mbps.

The regulator said the primary reasons for the discrepancy were less availability and reduced take-up of cable and fibre services in the countryside.

Later this month, internet service providers will be obliged to quote average peak-time speeds in their adverts and other promotional materials, rather than the “up to” figures that have been more common.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-44056617

“Countryside dwellers ‘abandoned to poor coverage’ by big mobile phone companies”

“People living in the countryside have been abandoned and left in the “digital wildnerness” by big mobile phone operators, it is claimed, with the worst-hit areas getting no new masts.

A Freedom of Information request has found that in areas where signal is the poorest no new applications have been submitted for new mobile phone masts in the past three years. …”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/04/07/countryside-dwellers-abandoned-poor-coverage-big-mobile-phone/