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Are ISPs selling more expensive UFB plans?

Thu 20 Dec 2012
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The absence of contractual transparency by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) means that many consumers and buyers will find their new Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) connection is anything but fast.

That is the view of Lume's MD Richard Cheeseman who is warning that not all UFB is the same after he recently sighted a UFB contract guaranteeing to deliver internet speeds of 56 kilobits a second – in effect, dialup speed.

“You may think you're getting many megabits per second with your UFB connection, but that’s just to your ISP’s data center – which is completely useless," he says.

“For example, if an ISP buys capacity for 300 megabits per second and sells that off to 1,000 customers – referred to as Internet Contention Ratio – each person’s maximum could be 30 megabits per second, but only if none of the other customers were using it at the same time.

“If everybody is using the connection at the same time, the speed is reduced to just 300kbs per second. You can see why that is a problem, particularly when you realise that an average speed test for conventional broadband should be at least four to five megabits per second.”

Cheeseman says the Government urgently needs to force ISPs to declare what capacity they are offering on their plans in the interests of business and consumer protection, because the ISPs don't, and they won’t do it off their own bat.

“Essentially it’s smoke and mirrors. Customers don’t know what they are buying," he says.

"You could get three different quotes from three different ISPs and not know which is the better one – if you go for the cheapest option, you may be in for a nasty surprise.

“When we buy food, the contents are on the packaging. We know what's in it… but this doesn't apply to UFB plans.

“I can't see how UFB is going to deliver better speeds because the ISPs are buying it at the moment for the same price as they were paying for copper, but they have to put in their own infrastructure – so costs have in fact gone up.

“There is no certainty of service and no guarantees. If you expect fantastic performance for a cheaper price, you are likely to be disappointed.

"ISPs don’t have to tell you what they are doing, and if you don't know what they are doing, you are far more susceptible to being ripped off."

Are ISPs selling more expensive UFB plans?

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