Broadband – Scientists Prove Rip-Off Britain Again

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Image via Wikipedia - The tangled web of deceit ?

The New York Times is reporting on results from a German tool which has been measuring ISP performance globally. Its fascinating, if unsurprising, results show that European customers suffer most from throttling of bandwidth by ISPs. The UK is the worst market for this and the Max Planck Institute singles out British Telecom – BT plc – as the major offender. No shock really to those of us who have endured BT’s variable network performance for the last decade. Traffic shaping is one thing – having defended BT’s productisation of a full Content Delivery Network in the past – but what appears to be a deliberate attempt by the former PTT to limit its backhaul capacity and related costs by ripping off its customers should be a scandal. How sad then that Ofcom has so far made no response. Another triumph for the insipid regulator in the wake of its less-than-glorious enforcement of ‘guidelines’ on misleading claims of capped versus uncapped internet access plans and labelling of speeds in advertising for broadband services in the UK.

Babbletalk – having said BT is clean when it comes to selective prioritisation of traffic – has to accept this is not necessarily the case. Of course, the report does not suggest or prove that the practice is anti-competitive (and also not ‘net-neutral’) but it is certainly misleading. BT is not the only culprit – amongst others, our old chums at The Carphone Warehouse (Talk Talk) are also mentioned. In fact, over 50% of UK ISPs are accused of traffic management as a cost reduction exercise in the report. Whilst it is fair that carriers should manage their capacity efficiently, the fact that the software behind the report – charmingly named Glasnost – detected throttling in 74% of BT connections sampled is more than taking the michael. Remember the days of the Trades Descriptions Act ? Another example of Rip Off Britain.

2 Comments

Paul DJanuary 2nd, 2012 at 8:47 pm

As a UK BT customer experiencing the difficulties of telephone line faults, the statement “you will get compensation” when made by the telephone fault call centre is absolutely worthless as to get compensation which is limited to the phone rental, is only obtained when complains to the billing and or complaints sections (If you can find them!).
Where the fault is not identified by the engineer please be aware that irf no further fault report is made within 28 days the BT system automatically charges £130.00 for a premises visit even if the engineer has forgotten to bring his equipment or he just does not know what he is doing!
This information has been gained from a period of over 4 years where weather conditions can stop both voice and braodband service supplied by BT Equipment.
Unfortunately BT has a monopoly on the telephone systems in rural UK so there is no practical alternative.

SimonJanuary 2nd, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Thanks Paul. I was hoping that the UK govt’s rural initiative would reinforce the service obligations that BT supposedly has. Sadly in these straightened times, this sort of policy initiative – originally mooted by Blair’s Labour government – will probably be sacrificed. Sadder still that Ofcom is a slow, lazy bureaucracy which largely fails to challenge the incumbent(s) on service issues for non-commercial areas.

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