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ThE MaStEr

Net users irked by inconsistent speeds


Friday, October 15 2010,

Nearly a third of British consumers are frustrated by inconsistent broadband speeds, while the majority want ISPs to be more upfront about their usage policies.

According to YouGov research of 5,200 UK consumers commissioned by Sky Broadband, almost 90% of UK broadband consumers use the internet at home every day, spending an average of two hours and 17 minutes online.

Once online, 97% of users access email at least once a week, 75% browse news websites, 66% use internet banking, 61% visit social networking sites and 42% watch short video clips. More than a third of users (37%) shop online, while 29% watch catch-up TV, 25% download music and 21% play games online.

The biggest irritation flagged up by respondents was the consistency of speeds, with 30% of consumers expressing frustration at their net connections slowing at peak times.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of consumers wanted packages advertised by ISPs as being 'unlimited' to truly deliver broadband without any usage caps.

Almost half of the consumers surveyed also had no idea about how traffic shaping practices used by ISPs on their networks can affect the speeds they receive.

Some 35% of respondents wrongly thought that an 'unlimited' claim in broadband advertising meant no speed or usage penalties would be in place, while 64% felt that 'unlimited' should mean that they can download or upload as much as they want with no constraints or penalties.

The research also revealed that only 6% of those surveyed cited speed as an important factor when choosing a broadband service. Most important was value for money, selected by 39% of respondents, while 31% wanted broadband as part of a service bundle with television and home phone.

Once connected, reliability and quality of connection was the single most important factor in driving customers' satisfaction (36%), followed by value for money (19%), consistency of speed (9%), and unlimited downloads (9%).

"What this research has done is to cut through the noise around broadband speeds and listen to what the majority of broadband users say about what matters to them," said Delia Bushell, Sky's director of broadband and telephony.

"Consumers obviously want a connection that is fast enough to allow them to do what they want online. But our research shows that value for money, reliability and consistency of speed are the most important considerations when people are weighing up their options.

"It's clear that consumers also want broadband providers to be more up front about issues such as traffic management and usage caps, both of which are clearly affecting the online experience of many. In short, people want broadband that works, transparency over what they are getting, and a price that suits their pocket."

Last month, Sky's rival Virgin Media pledged to publish its typical broadband speeds every month as part of efforts to be more transparent with consumers.

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Nearly a third of British consumers are frustrated by inconsistent broadband speeds, while the majority want ISPs to be more


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