December 08, 2013

Broadband Switching Comparison Sites. Can you trust their deals or data ?

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Uswitch speed-test at 4pmI had been a frequent visitor to the speedtest pages, including the Uswitch one, when I was experiencing intermittent problems with my broadband. This was nothing to do with my Internet Service Provider, PlusNet so I continued to check when fibre-based broadband came to my area?

When it was confirmed that this was available I confirmed that I could get the upgrade with PlusNet, BT Infinity and a choice of providers.
Two weeks later the Uswitch site still only records the 2 BT Infinity offers at the ‘super fast’ levels. This contradicts their test results that shows EE with an average speed of over 50 Mb.

The failure of these ‘averaged’ test results is they are comparing two totally different services using different infrastructure. Fibre and copper or copper all the way. In my street you can expect 12 Mb download speeds on the old ADSL and over 60 MB using the new Fibre To the Cabinet service. The cabinet in this case is about half way to the exchange from my street showing how critical that second kilometre is. To average the results of these services together just measures the proportion on customers who have been upgraded.

The StreetStats can provide an interesting view of speed tests in the area overlaid on Google maps. Today I see that a PlusNet customer further up the hill has recorded 30 Mb. Is this due to their extra distance from the exchange? NO, it is likely that they have gone for the cheaper “Up to 38Mb” offer not the “Up to 76Mb” option.

So how can you judge these things?
The simplest way is to go onto 1 or more provider’s site and find out what they estimate speed you can expect for the service level options they provide.

With PlusNet costing £16 pcm for Up to 38Mb and £20 pcm for Up to 76Mb after their introductory offers I thought it was a no-brainer. I have TV reception problems too so wanted BT Vision immediately so I switched to BT Infinity for £26 pcm. I am very pleased with the service especially the 12 Mb upload speeds. My test, right, was at 4pm and is as slow as I have measured since upgrading.

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