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We hold these truths to be self-evident, but now find ourselves forced to add another - that surveys purporting to show punters how to increase their broadband speeds are about as believable as the Iraqi Information Minister’s protestations that everything was under control as the tanks hove into view behind him.
Any fule no that ISPs lie through their teeth in their claims of the speeds on offer. Indeed, an asthmatic ant with some heavy shopping exhibits a more convincing turn of speed than most ‘high speed’ Internet connections.
Introductory cheap rates mysteriously increase by a factor of 100 after two or three months and technical support is as hard to find as Paris Hilton’s knickers.
So an in-depth survey offering help and guidance on how to get the most out of your Internet plumbing is surely to be welcomed?
Well, not exactly, Lord Copper.
UK broadband comparison site www.broadband-expert.co.uk reckons that, on average, broadband customers receive just 48 per cent of the advertised download speed.
The study tested 41,230 broadband connections over February and March 2008 comparing the actual speed customers were achieving against the maximum speed quoted for their broadband package.
The average actual speed achieved in the 16Mb+ category was a tragic 8.6Mb and just 45 per cent of the claimed maximum speeds.
Punters on 2Mb packages got an average 1.8Mb or 88 per cent of the quoted maximum speed and customers on 8Mb achieved a pathetic 3.4Mb or 43 per cent.
In the 2Mb category top performers were Virgin Media’s cable service, Talk Talk and UK Online, all of which achieved slightly more than the advertised maximum 2Mb speed.
Even the lowest performers Tiscali, Pipex and Toucan achieved 68 per cent, 70 per cent and 73 per cent respectively.
The biggest variations were in the 8Mb category where O2 and Be achieved 73 per cent and 68 per cent of advertised speeds, compared to just 26 per cent for Toucan and 29 per cent for both Virgin Media’s ADSL service and Eclipse.
The fastest actual speed achieved in the 16Mb+ category was Virgin Media’s cable service with an average of 10.4Mb or 52 per cent of the 20Mb quoted top speed.
The only other ISP to deliver more than 50 per cent of the advertised maximum speed was UK Online which achieved 62 per cent of the 16mb quoted top speed, delivering an average of 9.99mb.
Helpfully, the survey links to a page where you can plonk in your postcode, details of current provider and do a speed test on what level of service you’re getting.
I was told that the maximum speed I could expect to get from my exchange, given the distance I was from it, was 6Mb. Imagine then my surprise and delight to discover that my current ISP, Andrews & Arnold that I’ve been with for three or so years ever since the carrier pigeons were pensioned off here in Sodding Chipbury, is currently delivering 6.6Mb on that very line.
I’m on A&A’s ‘up to 8Mb’ tariff which means I get the fastest possible speed my line can offer up to a maximum of 8Mb.
Surprise and delight were no longer adequate when I was told that no fewer than 41 other providers could offer a better service and I was forced to resort to astonishment.
I find it unlikely that any of these 41 could actually offer me a better service. The survey glosses over such inconsequential items as free domains, free Web hosting and unlimited email accounts. Not to mention first class technical support and kicking BT up the arse when it screws up.
That’s what I want to pay for - a first class service that works reliably, with low contention ratios, unmetered downloads outside working hours and people who know what you’re talking about when you phone them up.
I’m pretty sure none of these 41 ISPs could offer me a significantly higher speed and I’m damned sure they couldn’t offer me a better service. I should perhaps point out that I have no commercial connection with A&A other than paying them £26.99 a month.
You get what you pay for. That’s why I drive a Jag rather than a Vauxhall.
Your mileage may vary
so Pakistan isnt the only country with this problem