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'Up To' Marketing Strikes Again: UK Customers Get 45% Of Promised Broadband Speed

from the stuck-in-the-slow-lane-again dept

This probably won't come as a surprise to pretty much anyone, but a new study by Ofcom in the UK found that, on average, customers received bandwidth at approximately 45% of the speed that was being advertised. Welcome to the world of "up to" marketing, where service providers get to promise "speeds up to x" and can then deliver a tiny fraction of that speed and still not be lying in their ads. However, it sounds as though Ofcom is going to get a lot more specific, and is demanding that ISPs start providing more accurate statements on what speeds customers should expect.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:56pm

    About damn time ..............................

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Chunky Vomit, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 12:05am

    I consider myself very lucky here as my connections are almost always much faster than advertised. Unless I'm using my Verizon EVDO connection, which is woefully slow no matter where I'm at.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    David, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 12:21am


    Hmm. Be interesting to see what Ofcom will do, if anything. In my experience, after sending them what I consider to perfectly legitimate complaints about telecoms and radio station "anomalies" (shall we say!), all I have ever achieved is getting a reply from them containing loads of officialese offal waffle! No teeth whatsoever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Crid, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 1:07am

    What a shame the customers can't use the same "Up to" trick to determine how much they pay for the service. If you only receive 45% of what was advertised, wouldn't it be nice to only have to pay 45% for it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Damien Sturdy, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 1:21am


    I really agree with that. 45% of speed, 45% of the cost. Personally though, I moved to Cable about 10 years ago back when BlueYonder got 512k broadband out, and I've *NEVER* looked back. I have so much fun wasting sky representatives time by making them think they've talked me into a sale only to say at the last minute:

    "Hang on.... UP TO? I get exactly 20mb right now, and you're saying only UP TO. will I definitely be able to get the 20mb speed or not? No? Well then, goodbye ma'am."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    joe, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 4:51am

    someone said, "What a shame the customers can't use the same "Up to" trick to determine how much they pay for the service. "

    Actually, I've been doing that for years. I have a Linksys wireless adapter whose antenna hangs out the window next to the computer and it picks up all the open networks in the apartment building in the immediate neighborhood. I have been "paying" the cable and phone "up to" scammers exactly what I want.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    james, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 4:53am

    I want a Job @ OFCOM

    As they clearly don’t do anything at all, ever, in any way.
    They must all get paid lots.

    Hopefully will change when the person at the top of this government black hole of finances is one who grew up with computers and understands the tech & issues as compared to the 62 year old who runs it now. Who just writes "letters of concern" to the telecoms providers on issues, but hasn’t the bottle to DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.

    Oh well back to surfing on my Victorian copy wire internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Monarch, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 4:57am

    There is another advertising fallacy..,

    Speed != Bandwidth
    Speed = Latency

    It doesn't matter if you have a 1.5mbps, 3mbps or 1Gbps if the other end is uploading at only 1mbps, all your going to get is 1mbps, it has nothing to do with speed, but how much bandwidth is available for usage. The speed is the time it takes to go from one connection to the other (latency), which can be affected by bandwidth, but most often is not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 5:27am

    In the UK...

    Is it like it is in the US, where 8 out of 10 people get less than the "up to" speed, 1 out of 10 gets what they pay for, and (like me) 1 out of 10 gets like 3 times what they pay for? I get on average 24Mbps where I'm suppose to get up to 6Mbps. That would probably mess with the 45% result.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 5:49am

    I wish I got 45% of my speed from Commie Cast. I laughed at them when they offered a "faster" connection speed for more money. Sure, right, because your basic plan totally reaches the speeds you are selling me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Eisenhans, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 6:03am

    Same rubbish they peddle all over the world,with the same worthless watchdogs supposedly keeping guard.Beyond stupid really !

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    #46, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 7:04am

    this internet thingy will have to go.
    we can't have commoners spreading their foolish ideas around.
    and we can't have them know what is going on, that's for sure.
    we'll just ban the whole pirate infested pedophilia/terrorism enabling web.
    honeymoon is over.

    think of your children/nation

    Feudalism Revival Foundation

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    nasch, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 7:31am


    It really depends on the application. Some things are much more sensitive to latency than others. Videoconferencing, streaming video, VOIP, things like that are killed by high latency. Web browsing, you don't want your latency too high but a few hundred milliseconds here and there aren't going to matter. Email and bittorrent, latency doesn't matter in the least as long as it's not measured in minutes (which it never is unless your connection is just plain broken).

    Bandwidth, on the other hand, almost always matters. The cases where it doesn't are sending just text - plain text email, text chat, things like that. I would not want to go to a super low latency 128kbps connection, for example.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Michael B, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 8:20am

    Same Old, Same Old

    I recently made the mistake of switching (for a day or 2) to AT&T DSL Express, with a speed "up to" 1.5MBPS... got my wireless gateway (which they charged me $80 for, no rebate), hooked it up and got... 384KPBS! Their excuse... I was told I could get "up to" 1.5MBPS but it was not guaranteed. Canceled the service and returned the equipment (which AT&T has yet to credit me for, and can't quite find the right department to handle the credit). It's a joke!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Michael B, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 8:22am

    Re: Same Old, Same Old

    By the way, the speed was verified by AT&T's own speed test... actually, all I got was 312KBPS even going to their local servers!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Joe, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 9:02am


    Agreed. ISPs get too many breaks in their promises.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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