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Broadband Speed Tests & the BBC

June 3rd, 2008 at 18:34 by Peter Jackson

Today's article from the BBC ‘Test your broadband speed' has been interesting but hasn't really told us anything we didn't already know.  Since ‘Broadband Max' was introduced in 2005 we've always known that the broadband speeds you experience can have many determining factors, such as distance from the exchange, line quality, capacity at the exchange and external interference. We've talked about many of these things in articles such as our ‘Advanced Guide to Broadband Max' and ‘Get Ready for High-speed Broadband'.

We've got a useful Windows Media Player video too on the subject.

Early this year we launched the ‘My Broadband Speed' service, to assist broadband users to identify and record historical data that can help in optimising the speeds of your connection.

It's hardly surprising then that broadband users in rural areas (where the average length of telephone line to the exchange is greater) suffer poorer speeds on average than those in towns and cities.

Of course line speed isn't the end of the story, the reality is more complex. PlusNet customers (unlike those of most ISPs) benefit from prioritised traffic during peak periods.  There's little point in having a fast connection if those big downloads are going to interfere with time sensitive activities like web-browsing, email and VPN.

So I'm happy to see the BBC increasing awareness of the issues about broadband speeds but I do think that alongside this we need to understand that consistency and quality of service are as important - perhaps this is where our customers see real benefit as compared to our competitors.


This entry was posted by Peter Jackson on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008 at 6:34 pm and is tagged with , and is posted in the category Plusnet News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

9 comments on "Broadband Speed Tests & the BBC"


What doesn't help is ill-informed reporting. This was talked about on BBC breakfast TV and the presenter talked about how he'd signed up for 8Mb, and was only getting about half, so lots of his `megs` were getting lost somewhere.

It was tongue in cheek, but what was clear was that he'd signed up for a product believing he was going to get 8Mb. The reality is that his product is `up to 8Mb`...

I did the BBC test today and it said 3.1M I immediately did the BT test and MYBroadband test with the following, Whoes kidding who?
3 june
Test1 comprises of Best Effort Test: -provides background information.
IP profile for your line is - 6500 kbps
DSL connection rate: 448 kbps(UP-STREAM) 8096 kbps(DOWN-STREAM)
Actual IP throughput achieved during the test was - 5835 kbps

Date Download Speed Upload Speed
Today 13:50 6174 kbps (772kB/s) 382 kbps (47.8kB/s)


The problem is that consumers find "up to 8Mb" inherently misleading.

There isn't an easier way to sell it that I can see, but the reality is that as a consumer I shouldn't need to care about my line quality or how far I am from the exchange.

The whole industry has to take responsibility for consumers feeling mislead. We can always do more as an ISP, even if we can't sacrifice sign-ups to competitiors simply because we are being more honest in the first place. I really hope the upcoming ofcom guidance on this subject will help consumers at least make more informed choices.



The whole issue is that anybody providing an "up-to" service is likely to be accused of misleading at some point.

Like Ian, I can't see any easy way around this, until fixed rate connections become the norm (such as given by cable providers).


A retrograde step, perhaps, but ought we to have more exchanges, so that the average line length is reduced? (Only one factor, I agree, but is this what the reporting really is about?)

I took the BBC speed test yesterday and the result was 1.4Mb immediately afterwards I took the test on the PlusNet speed tester and it registered 2.856Mb - that's some discrepancy.


I can see a scenario where a potential customer compares Plusnet's honest up to 8Mb offering with a competitor's 8Mb offering, takes the competitor, receives poor speed and service but sticks with it believing all ISPs are the same.

One who writes that "we can always do more as an ISP" could begin by using a spelling checker, so that we would not be insulted with "sacrafice" (for sacrifice) and "inherantly" (for inherently).

Bunny Bunyer - At school I was always taught that a comma should precede and follow quoted speech marks and brackets so does that mean that your comment isn't 100% correct as well? Stones and glass houses spring to mind!!

Anyway, back to the subject in hand. It comes to something when you can't even watch the video, (, due to buffering and line speed issues!

In this day and age should we not expect a better infrastructure than we have? In the last few days my speed has ranged from 240kbps to 992kbps. So much for 'Upto 8Mb'.


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