Broadband Buyers Beware - make sure you know what you are buying
8 Dec 2003
I'm all for making broadband more accessible to more people, but suppliers really must become more open and clear about what they are offering and what customers can expect to get in the way of performance. Intrigued by the news that one Internet service provider (ISP) now offers broadband at an 'introductory' price of only £9.95 a month for the first three months, followed by a regular rate of only £15.95, I visited their website to find that this price gets you a maximum of only about 150 kbps download speed, compared with the 512 kbps that is generally regarded as the baseline for consumer ADSL broadband services.

If you click on their 'more information' link it does say "Our Cheapest 150k Broadband Bundle", but this was the only reference I could find to performance levels. If the site does say what are the upload and download rated levels of the services, and the contention ratios, in a clear way, I couldn't find this information. What I did find were lots of references to broadband being 'up to 40 times faster' than dial up. This use of 'up to', while it may be strictly accurate in terms of the difference between a 56 kbps modem and the fastest service the ISP offers, ignores the fact that most users buy only 512 kbps, that the associated upload performance is only 215 kbps, and that this is the fastest speed you will get not the typical speed. We run the risk that people will become disillusioned with their broadband performance and this will get broadband a bad name.

If some of this news item is mystifying to you, all the jargon is explained in my 'What is Broadband?' page, linked below.
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