Over Half of Broadband Users Have Woeful Connection, Survey Says 

Which? Have recently surveyed nearly 4000 broadband customers from differing Internet Service Providers to find out what issues customers are facing when it comes to staying connected. 

Internet issues like slow speeds and connections that dropped out were rather commonplcae over the past year, with 53% of respondents saying they had experienced some kind of connection issue. 

And the worst ISP on the list? Sky Broadband. 

Which ISP’s Are the Worst?

Of the 12 ISP’s listed in the survey, Sky Broadband (32%), Virgin Media (35%) and EE (37%) had the lowest percentage of customers reporting ‘no issues.’ 

Out of the most well known Internet Service Providers, BT came off the best, with nearly half (49%) of survey customers not experiencing a single connection issue in the past year. 

Similarly, Hyperoptic, Shell Energy and Utility Warehouse also did well with at least half of their customers (if not more) also reporting 12 whole months (January 2022 to January 2023) without a single performance issue. 

However, of the rest of the customer’s, at least 4 in 10 did experience at least one issue in the survey period. 

What are the Most Common Broadband Issues?

The most commonly reported connection problem in the survey was ‘frequent drop outs’ which affected 19% of the respondents. 

Almost as prevalent amongst the reported internet issues was ‘a very slow speed’ and a connection that was ‘slow to download or upload files’ (17% and 15% respectively). 

How Does This Survey Compare to Ofcom Stats?

Data from Ofcom actually paint quite a different picture when it comes to the service of internet providers. 

Official complaints to Ofcom about ISP’s have Sky as one of the providers that have the least issues from customers. According to Ofcom data, Shell Energy were the worst offender. 

It’s important to remember that Ofcom data is based on actual complaints from disgruntled customers. The survey by Which? surveyed just under 4000 customers of various ISP’s and was somewhat more anecdotal. 

We also need to bear in mind that not all of the issues reported in the survey could purely be down to bad broadband. Home networks can be affected by poor configuration (placing your router somewhere silly, for example), local network congestion, poor Wi-Fi (the transmission of the signal from the router to the device). There are scenarios where it wouldn’t be the ISP’s fault, so the survey would need to take a bit of a closer look. 

What do the ISP’s Have to Say in Response to the Which? Survey?

Here’s what the ISP’s have to say on the topic.

A spokesperson for Sky said:

“We are committed to providing the best service to our customers. We do not believe this is a representative survey – Ofcom’s quarterly complaints data shows we are consistently one of the least complained about broadband providers and, in Ofcom’s latest report, we received the fewest complaints out of all broadband providers.”

A spokesperson for Virgin Media said:

“While these findings are only taken from a small sample of customers, the latest, fuller data from Ofcom shows that our customers benefit from the fastest download speeds, and customer complaints on our broadband services fell by 22% in the first quarter of this year. Only last month we were rated the ‘Best in Test’ in Umlaut’s broadband benchmarking survey, ahead of other major providers.

With demand for connectivity higher than ever, we’re investing billions of pounds each year to upgrade and improve our networks to ensure we’re providing our customers with fast and reliable broadband services they can rely on. Customers are receiving more value than ever from their telecoms services, and we continue to invest in every area of our business to ensure we continue to improve and deliver an excellent customer experience.”

A spokesperson for EE said:

“Ofcom’s latest complaints report shows that we remain one of the least complained about broadband providers, with complaints remaining well below the industry average throughout recent years.

We remain committed to providing the best customer service across the industry and ensuring our customers get value for money as the UK’s best network. Our teams across the UK and Ireland already provide the most personal and local service in contact centres and retail stores across the country.

We have proudly led the way with social tariffs since 2008, with around 80% of the total market being supported on BT social tariffs. Customers who are struggling financially and are eligible for our social tariffs can move penalty-free at any point in their contract, this also includes EE and Plusnet customers.”

CEO of Zen Internet, said:

“Our industry unfortunately has a poor reputation for managing customer expectations and being transparent with communications, and introducing price rises mid-contract at a time when everyone is struggling with household bills does nothing to improve this. With price rises based on a 10.1% CPI rate, and the above inflation addition of typically 3.9%, that amounts to a substantial additional burden to household budgets.

We are not immune to the inflationary forces impacting supply chains and wages, but we all recognise that customers need as fair a deal as we can offer. Zen’s response to this challenge for residential customers is the Contract Price Promise – a promise not to increase prices for the length of the contract period.

When it comes to customer service, Zen was the only provider to score four stars in all seven categories in the Which? survey – connection speed and reliability, customer service, value for money, technical support, ease/speed of contact and ease of set up. We have topped the table for eight years and are the only Which? Recommended Provider for Broadband. It’s not always easy, but we will always work to ensure we provide an industry leading service and support our customers when they need it most, rather than prioritising profit-driven price hikes that only benefit shareholders.”

CEO and Co-Founder of Lit Fibre, said:

“The findings from the Which? report published yesterday are not surprising. Broadband providers have become complacent regarding poor customer service. Taking time to explain how customers can get the best experience ‘in home’ from their wifi setup is also top of our agenda as we know most customers need our expertise with this.

At Lit Fibre we put customer service and reliable internet first from the outset, it’s the bare minimum we think customers should be expecting. We’ve earnt our 5 stars on Trustpilot by providing customers with a consistently high quality and personal service, an average call pick-up time of 20 seconds, no bots and no mid-contract price hikes, so we know it’s possible for the industry to do so much better.”

How’s Your Broadband?

Which side of the fence would you be sat on – No internet issues, or frustratingly slow speeds and drop outs?

If you’re experiencing Wi-Fi woes and your broadband just isn’t cutting it, get in touch with one of our Wi-Fi engineers today. 

Whether your home and business are in a rural area and you’re struggling for a broadband connection, or your office broadband is buffering and inhibiting your business productivity – We can help.

Our expert Wi-Fi engineers can make sure you get the connection you need – Whether it’s mobile broadband via 4G or better placed routers and AP’s.

Contact us today and let’s get you better connected. 

What is the ‘Fibre in Water’ Trial and Will Fibre Broadband Run Through Water Mains?

For the past year, the DSIT have been trialling ‘Fibre in Water’ in Yorkshire. Fibre has been run along 17km between Barnsley and Penistone to see whether fibre optic (FTTP) broadband cables could be deployed through live water mains. 

The £6.2m trial has just completed its first phase, with the DSIT releasing current progress and what they’ve learned so far, with one year left to go of the trial. 

The theory behind the ‘fibre in water’ trial is that fibre broadband could reach 8,500 more rural homes and businesses without needing to do disruptive and costly street works. Not only that, the fibre could provide capacity to local 5G mobile masts as well as monitor any leakages on the network. 

What is ‘Fibre in Water’?

The main concept behind ‘Fibre in Water’ is to deploy fibre optic cables through live drinking water mains, monitoring them for leakage. It would also mean that broadband companies could use the water network to deliver gigabit connections to any homes and businesses along the water route that the cables were deployed in. 

If you’re wondering whether it’s safe to be putting fibre-optic cables alongside water, then don’t worry! The fibre cables will be inside ‘messenger pipes’ to make sure that they don’t touch the water and are protected. 

The messenger pipe is deployed whilst water is in normal operation so that the pressure can be used to deploy an initial draw line. The installation is completed by blowing the fibre-optic cable into the messenger pipe. 

What do they hope to achieve with the ‘Fibre in Water’ project?

The £6.2m project began in 2021 and is expected to reach completion in 2024 – Taking it from a pilot schemed to facilitate delivery. The aim is to deliver advanced broadband and mobile services to rural locations via mains water. 

Led by the DSIT (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology), the project is also supported by Defra (Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs) as well as the Geospatial Commission. 

There are various objectives to the ‘Fibre to Water’ project, a few of these are:

  • To support the Project Gigabit and Shared Rural Network schemes by connecting the hardest to reach areas of the UK with advanced fixed and mobile services (such as gigabit, 4G and 5G)
  • To reduce the amount of clean water leakage from the water mains (approximately 3 billion litres of clean water is lost per day)
  • To support the digital transformation of the water industry in the UK

What are the challenges of the ‘Fibre to Water’ project?

This project sees the merging of two separate industries, so is of course going to meet its challenges. 

It’s a complex endeavour to safely bring together fibre-optic cables and water pipes in one place. Hence why DSIT, Defra and Geospatial Commission are all involved. Not only does it have to meet regulatory frameworks but also has to reflect a sensible cost for all bodies. 

Project TAWCO was formed – Telecoms and Water Combined Operations – Consisting of Yorkshire Water, Commsworld (telecoms operator), the University of Strathclyde as a research organisation and Arcadis as a Design and Engineering Consultancy. 

They proposed a route that would enable them to put the operational and commercial models to the test – Going from Barnsley to Penistoke. 

What does the ‘Fibre in Water’ project consist of? 

The project is split into 3 phases, the first of which has just reached completion. 

Phase 1

This phase has focused on the research and investigation elements to inform later deployment. It had to look at the technical, commercial, legal and maintenance aspects of everything – as well as the benefits – before being able to present findings to the government. Only then can it move into Phase 2 and 3. 

Phase 2

The second phase will look at the design and build elements of the project, including deployment of the final design. It will also include data collection and the accrual of benefits. 

Phase 3

The final phase will evaluate how the project has performed and how it can be scaled up in line with the analysis results from Phase 2, with a view of rolling out this solution on a national scale. 

What has been learnt from the 1st phase of the ‘Fibre in Water’ project?

Now that the first phase is coming to a close, the project has shown that this is a successful model, commercially viable, between the two industries. 

It would seem that there is an investment opportunity for fibre in water, with a host of benefits for not only the industries but customers too. 

European markets are seeing expansion in this area, with a rise in fibre in water technology and monitoring software solutions. More suppliers here in the UK are looking to gain approval for their offerings. As with all industries, competition in this area will drive innovation and technical improvements further as well as keep prices down.

The telecoms market is a competitive one, so Fibre in Water is likely to be another way for these companies to get broadband services to homes and businesses and provide better options for consumers. 

One issue highlighted by the Phase 1 survey was having to gain access to private landowners along the proposed route. Not only would this be a potential risk, it would also cost money due to compensation negotiations. 

A way to avoid this was to alter the route for the trial, reducing it to 8km of ‘fibre in water’ and avoiding the need for private access. Whilst this mitigated the risk and cost, it also means that the number of rural premises being reached is less, down to 7000. 

Will the proposed ‘fibre in water’ trial go ahead? It’s expected that a decision will be made imminently by the DSIT and other government partners alongside Project TAWCO. 

Could this be an exciting development in getting reliable broadband to rural areas? We might well find out next month – Watch this space. 

Rural Wi-Fi Options with Geekabit

In the meantime, if you’re struggling with your broadband in a rural home or business then get in touch with our Wi-Fi experts today. We have extensive experience with 4G and Mobile Broadband – Bringing you a more reliable connection in rural premises. Read more on our website and get in touch today.

UK Starlink Broadband Speeds Rise

Global leader in network intelligence, Ookla, also well known for their free web service on network performance analysis Speedtest.net, have published their latest data for the last quarter of 2022. 

Their latest study reports on the internet download, upload and latency performance for UK customers (as well as other countries) using SpaceX’s Starlink Low Earth Orbit (LEO) ultrafast satellite broadband. 

The report found that the Starlink satellite broadband speeds are on the rise. 

What is Starlink?

You can read more about Starlink on one of our previous blogs here

Starlink satellite broadband is made up of a constellation of approximately 3680 low earth orbit satellites. By next year they plan to have 4425, and then 7500 by the end of 2027. 

Here in the UK, a customer of Starlink can expect to pay a £460 fee for the regular home kit (standard dish, router) plus £40 shipping and then £75 per month for the ‘standard’ plan. On the standard plan you can expect unlimited usage, fast latency times (25-50ms), downloads of between 50 and 200Mbps and uploads of between 5 and 15Mbps. 

As the network continues to grow, it’s possible that the speeds will change. 

Remember though – Speeds can differ out in the real world and aren’t always the same as the performance advertised by the ISP. 

Starlink Speeds

Back in the second quarter of 2022, the report showed that Starlink’s average download speeds had fallen between then and the year before in the UK and other countries including France, Germany and USA. Here in the UK speeds had dropped by 19%. 

Thankfully, the data from the last quarter of 2022 shows that speeds are starting to rise again. 

But speed isn’t the only thing to look for. A good user experience is also about consistently lowering latency, and Starlink seems to have lowered the latency from an average of 36-39ms to 53ms. Remember with latency, the lower figures are faster!

What Were Starlink’s UK Broadband Speeds Over the Last Year? 

Below are the download, upload and latency speeds for each quarter between 2021 and 2022. You can see that latency was about the same figure for about a year, before improving over the last quarter of 2022. 

You can also see how upload and download speeds were increasing quarter on quarter Q2 2022 where they both dropped. The latest figures for Q4 2023 appear to show the upload and download speeds starting to improve once again. 

This could be the increase in the number of LEO satellites being launched. As the network gets bigger and more LEO satellites are orbiting earth, we could see Starlink satellite broadband speeds continue to increase as well as improved latency.

Q4 2022

Download 96.79Mbps

Upload 12.40Mbps

Latency 53ms

Q2 2022

Download 85.07Mbps

Upload 10.72Mbps

Latency 39ms

Q4 2021

Download 121.94Mbps

Upload 13.96Mbps

Latency 36ms 

Q3 2021

Download 111.66Mbps

Upload 16.02Mbps

Latency 37ms

Q2 2021

Download 108.30Mbps

Upload 15.64Mbps

Latency 37ms

Starlink Satellite Broadband for Rural Areas

We’ve written before about how transformative satellite broadband can be for more rural areas – Both homes and businesses. 

These clients are likely to struggle with the standard fixed line broadband options, and even some mobile (4G/5G) services. For people who live and work in rural areas, the speeds above that Starlink satellite broadband can offer are going to be gladly received compared to the other much slower options. 

Get in Touch

If you are interested in how Starlink satellite broadband could help your home or business, please get in touch with our Wi-Fi experts today. We work out of Hampshire, London and Cardiff offering Wi-Fi solutions to transform your connection. 

How To Choose and Install an External 4G or 5G Mobile Broadband Antenna

Like with so many of our utilities, we only really notice them when there’s a problem or they’re not working properly. Wi-Fi is just the same! Just like when the power goes out, if your Wi-Fi is on the blink then you know about it – And it is so frustrating! 

Whilst most people are lucky enough to connect to superfast broadband through a wired connection, there are also many rural homes that cannot access and connect to broadband or internet in the same straightforward way. 

Here at Geekabit, we work with lots of people – Businesses and homes – who struggle with the more traditional ways of connecting to the internet and have to turn to mobile broadband through 3G, 4G and 5G. 

And again, many people are lucky to have a business or home within range of a strong enough UK mobile broadband network.

‘Could I benefit from an external antenna?’

There are some more remote rural homes and businesses that find themselves struggling to connect to mobile broadband too. If your business or home is:

– Unable to connect to a decent fixed line ISP 

– Within range of a mobile broadband alternative but find it unstable on various operators

Then you might find it beneficial to get an external antenna installed. But which one do you need? 

Are External Mobile Broadband Antennas Easy to Install?

In terms of actually installing an external antenna, it’s actually pretty straightforward. All you need to do is choose a high, stable location on the outside wall of your house near the roof, and screw the antenna on. Remember to make sure it’s pointing in the right direction (ie. towards the nearest mast). 

You might also choose to mount your antenna on a pole to raise it higher than your house. If you’re going for this option, always make sure that it is stable and won’t cause any damage to the building you are mounting it to. It’s also worth liaising with your local authority before installing a large pole as in some areas, a tall pole could be in breach of planning rules. 

You will also need to drill the cable into the house – It’s very important to avoid any other electrical cables and water pipes whilst you are doing this as well as sealing up the holes afterwards. 

It’s also pretty important to keep the position of your router in mind. Will it be placed near the where the cable feeds into the building? Ideally, the cable between your antenna and router needs to be 5 metres or less otherwise you could find yourself struggling with interference and/ or signal loss. 

If that all feels a little daunting then you can hire a professional installer to do the job for you – Our expert Wi-Fi engineers here at Geekabit can do just this! We operate out of Hampshire, London and Cardiff.  

Whilst the physical aspects of installing an external antenna are quite straightforward, it’s not always easy to choose the right kit. The radio spectrum is variable by nature, which makes it very dependent on your environment. You might manage to install the antenna but not get the outcome you were expecting. 

What antenna you need depends on your specific location and needs. This blog will outline some of the options that could be right for you. Sometimes it’s a case of trial and error to find the right antenna for you – But that’s where it might be best to leave it in expert hands. 

‘Do I need an Omni-directional or Directional antenna?’

When it comes to installing an external antenna, the first thing you need to decide is whether you need an Omni-directional antenna or a Directional antenna. 

Choosing a Directional antenna

If you know where your nearest mast is and have a clear line of sight, then the Directional antenna might be the one for you. Whilst it’s weaker in other directions, the Directional antenna will have higher reception in one direction, hence why it works well for a clear line of sight with the mast or base station. This is often the better choice if you live or work in a rural area. 

What problems can you have with a Directional antenna? 

Using a Directional antenna can run into issues if the station is congested or goes out of service. E.g. during upgrades. 

Choosing an Omni-directional antenna

If you live or work in a more urban, built up area and aren’t sure where the nearest mast is then an Omni-directional antenna could be the better option for you. Whilst they have a lower overall gain, they are able to attract similar reception from all directions. Because the Omni is looking at a wider area, you may find that it provides better reliability. 

Generally, if you are finding and installing an external antenna yourself, then the Omni-directional antenna is probably the one to try first. 

What problems can you have with an Omni-directional antenna? 

It’s possible that because it’s looking at a wider area, the Omni could attract more interference. If you are able to utilise a well positional Directional antenna then you could get better performance that way. 

‘How much power does my external antenna need?’

So you’ve decided whether you need an Omni-directional or Directional antenna. What do you need to consider next? 

You’ll notice that antennas have gain figures in dB / dBi – This is how the power of the antenna is measured. 

In simple terms, the gain of an antenna is the relative measure of its ability to direct radio frequency energy in a certain direction or pattern. What do the gain (dB / dBi) figures on an antenna mean?

We could go into a lot of complicated detail here, but seeing as we’re writing this blog for someone looking to buy and install their own external antenna, we’ll keep it super simple. 

Basically, the higher the gain (dB / dBi) the better the antenna’s performance and range. Obviously, the higher the gain, the more expensive the antenna will cost. 

When you are at this stage of choosing your antenna, it is worth knowing what bands your mobile operator uses so that you can ensure how the different gain values given for an antenna correspond to the spectrum band you will be using. 

‘Choosing an external antenna – What are the challenges?’ 

As we said above, when you are installing a new external antenna, it’s really important to know:

  • Where and which direction the signal is coming from 
  • How strong the signal is
  • Which bands are being used in your local area by local operators

These are some of the biggest challenges you’ll face when installing your antenna. 

‘How can I find out the spectrum information I need to choose an antenna?’

If you go online to mobile operator’s websites you can find coverage checkers (Vodafone, Three UK, O2 and EE (BT)), but these can be rather vague and not always accurate. It’s worth comparing to what Ofcoms Mobile Coverage Checker says too.

Perhaps the best way to identify which bands are being used by your local operator is to download a relevant app or look up the mobile network details on your Smartphone or router. 

These apps will often just tell you the band number for your own operator rather than tell you the spectrum frequency. You’ll find that operators tend to own several bands, but usually use one band for national connectivity. 

What are the most common 4G Mobile Bands in the UK?

800MHz (Band 20)

900MHz (Band 8)

1800MHz (Band 3)

2100MHz (Band 1)

2300MHz (Band 40)

2600MHz (Band 7)

Remember that 5G uses a different band model and is currently only deployed on the 3.4GHz band. 

‘How do I know where my nearest mast is for installing my new antenna?’

So you’ve made sense of the bands on offer in your area from local operators. Next you need to work out where your nearest mast is and whether it’s the most appropriate for your location. Unfortunately it’s not always the option that looks most logical! 

When you’re choosing the most appropriate mast for your use, you need to consider the following:

  • Forms and features of local land surfaces (artificial and natural)
  • Local surroundings
  • Operator choice

There are apps and websites that can help with this such as Mastdata.com and Cellmapper.net. The Opensignal app could also be of use.

Did you know that operators also have sharing agreements with each other? Just to make things a little more complicated. For example, there is a sharing agreement between Vodafone and O2 as well as between EE and Three. What does this mean? Well it means that a mast could be serving more than one operator. 

How do I use signal strength information to position my external antenna?’ 

If you are able to gain an understanding of signal strength in a few different measurements, then you are more likely to position your antenna correctly. 

Signal strength is measured in quite a few different ways, so we’re going to just focus on a few that you are most likely to encounter. These are:

  • Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI)
  • Reference Signals Received Power (RSRP)
  • Reference Signal Received Quality (RSRQ)

These measurements are given by a negative dBm (decibel milliWatts) value. In this situation, negative values are actually good (most of the time). They are negative because they represent tiny yet positive numbers on a logarithmic scale, making them easier to consume. For example, -100dBm would be 0.0000000001 mW.

What is a good RSSI signal? Essentially, the closer to 0 dBm, the better the RSSI signal (although it does get more complicated past a certain point with diminishing returns of data speed). An example of excellent 4G RSSI signal would be -65 dBm. A poor RSSI signal would be -85 dBm. 

RSRP works on a similar scale to RSSI, where an excellent 4G RSRP signal would be -80 dBm.  

RSRQ operates on a very different scale, which means that an excellent signal is anything from around -10 dB (not dBm) and a poor signal would be -20 db.

Interestingly, most mobile modems are able to maintain a pretty fast data connection using a poor signal. Problems may arise however in more rural areas where speeds are slower and stability poorer due to the distance from a mast. 

What factors are most likely to affect signal strength? 

  • Distance to mast
  • Interference from competing signals
  • Router band switching
  • Physical obstacles in the environment like buildings, tall trees etc
  • The weather

Of course, these factors are not in your control, but you need to bear them in mind when positioning your antenna in order to get the best signal possible. 

Feeling confident about choosing and installing your external antenna?

If you are about to choose and install an external antenna to improve your 3G, 4G or 5G mobile broadband signal, then hopefully this blog has given you some of the basic information you need to make your decisions. 

If you’re still feeling a bit daunted, then why not get in touch with one of our Wi-Fi experts? We’ve been installing mobile broadband for clients in and around Hampshire, Cardiff and London for a while and can help identify which antenna solution would best suit your needs. Get in touch today! 

Can My ISP Increase My Broadband Price Mid-Contract? 

Are you aware of your broadband contract clauses and how they could affect you? 

We all know that we should read the small print before signing on the dotted line – But how many of us actually do so? Especially when it comes to contracts from broadband and phone providers.

Perhaps with the current cost of living crisis, more people are being careful about what they are signing up for, and whether they should expect mid-contract increases in fees and exit costs. But what if you signed up before all the other household bills started to rise?

With households all over the country feeling the pinch, especially at this time of year, a mid-contract price increase is the last thing people need. But are broadband providers actually allowed to do this? 

Ofcom, the UK regulator of telecoms, has recently launched a programme in which they will monitor and examine whether any in-contract price rises from ISP and phone providers were laid out clearly enough in customer contracts – Before they signed up. 

Shouldn’t broadband packages stay the same throughout your contract?

Wouldn’t it be lovely if the price you signed up for remained the same throughout your broadband contract? 

We don’t think that’s too much to ask, but unfortunately there are many broadband, phone and mobile providers that will hike up the price of broadband part way through your contract. 

The rules laid out by Ofcom to try and combat this problem state that any potential for price increases must be set out in a prominent, clear and transparent way before a customer signs up. 

If an ISP fails to do this, then the customer stands a chance at exiting their contract without having to pay an additional fee. 

How could my ISP increase the price of my broadband?

The less dramatic price increases tend to come from providers like Sky Broadband and Virgin who implement standard price increases year on year. It’s pretty much expected by customers, despite consumers not knowing exactly what the new price will be. 

This kind of price increase also usually allows the customer to leave without having to pay a penalty fee. 

Other ISP’s like BT, EE and TalkTalk include a policy within their contract which enables them to increase their prices mid-contract in line with inflation and / or the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This could see an increase of 3-4%. Whilst this in itself can be quite transparent, the details are more often than not hidden amongst the small print that goes unread. On top of that, not all consumers have an in-depth understanding of inflation. 

Unfortunately, this means that when the inevitable price hike appears, customers are unable to exit their contract part way through without having to pay a penalty fee. 

Ofcom Investigates Broadband Price Hikes

Due to the number of complaints made between the 1st March 2021 and the 16th June 2022, Ofcom decided to investigate the apparent lack of transparency when it comes to in-contract price rises. 

MIllions of people are currently facing increases in their household bills. Now more than ever, it’s vital that ISP’s and telecoms companies make sure they are being very clear with their customers about pricing and exactly what they are signing up for. 

It’s the duty of these companies to lay out clearly and upfront any potential price increases within a customer’s contract. 

Due to the number of complaints regarding this matter, Ofcom began investigating whether this was happening, and if anything more needs to be done to make potential price rises more transparent to customers. 

Any providers found to not be following the rules regarding pricing transparency will be investigated individually. 

Good News About Mid-Contract Broadband Price Increases

Investigations of this nature do of course take time, however you’ll be pleased to know that CAP and BCAP (Committees of Advertising Practice – sister organisation to the Advertising Standards Authority) are developing new guidance in regards to mid-contract price increases. 

Their guidelines will include the potential for mid-contract price hikes to be more prominent within ads from broadband companies, mobile operators. By making it clear at this stage, there is less chance of consumers being misled. 

Since the 17th June 2022, there have been strengthened rules for telecoms companies that enforce clear and simple information for consumers in regards to in-contract price rises – Before the customer signs on the dotted line. 

In the current climate, it is absolutely imperative that customers know exactly what they are paying for their broadband, and how long they will be paying it. 

How Much Electricity Does my Router Use – Should I Turn It Off?

Let’s face it, the temperature has dropped and in the current climate we’re doing anything we can to reduce our household bills. Many people are currently scrutinising their household appliances in a bid to see what’s using the most electricity and how they can reduce it. 

The most obvious culprits are of course anything that has a heating element – Washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers being big electricity hungry appliances. 

Consumer electronics also account for quite a chunk of our energy bills – About 6%. Think how many people you have in your home, and in turn how many of them have electronics that are plugged in a lot of the time. Laptop, games consoles, televisions. The trick is to switch them off from standby when you’re not using them…

But what about household items that are on all the time – Like your router? Is the internet ever not in use in your home? With the prevalence of smart homes comes the need for constant Wi-Fi connection. Hands up if you control your Christmas lights with Google Home or Alexa? Guilty. 

If you switched your router off overnight, what disruption would it cause? And is it even worth doing so? Let’s find out. 

Should I Turn My Router Off Overnight to Save Electricity? 

If you’ve joined energy saving forums or even if you’re just prone to the odd Google or blog read about how to keep bills down, you might have seen suggestions to switch off your router overnight along with other electricals. 

But what disruption could this cause? 

It’s worth remembering that most homes use broadband connections that are based off older style copper broadband lines (for example ADSL2+) or a hybrid of fibre optic and copper (e.g. FTTC / VDSL). These often use DLM technology (Dynamic Line Management) and its associated services.

A potential issue with these services is its negative response to repeatedly getting disconnected and having to reboot the router. This could cause your connection to become slower, which in turn brings its own problems! For this reason, it’s generally better to keep them switched on all of the time to avoid connectivity issues.

There are also a few other things to consider before switching off your router on your way to bed. 

  • Many routers receive security updates overnight so as not to cause any issues during the day. If you switch your router off every single night, then you could miss one of these security updates which could cause issues later down the line with device vulnerability.
  • Desperate to stay up to date with the latest Sky series but can’t stay awake long enough to watch it in real time? Then you might be someone who series links your shows so you never have to miss a moment. Except – In order for Sky (other providers are available) to be able to record said show, the TV needs to be connected to the internet. And oops – You switched the router off before you went to bed. No show for you.
  • Do you charge your smartphone overnight? Most use this opportunity to update to the latest software. If you’re not connected to the Wi-Fi then it likely won’t make any necessary updates. Likewise, if your phone stays on overnight, any notifications like WhatsApp or social media platforms will connect via your data rather than Wi-Fi which could result in your using up your data sooner than expected. 

Are these massive issues that you couldn’t possibly cope with? No, probably not. But if you’re used to things just quietly and consistently running in the background – Updates, show recordings, notifications – You might need to consider whether switching off your router overnight would work for you. 

And would it even be worth it? 

How Much Electricity Does a Router Use and Is it Worth Switching It Off Overnight?

Unfortunately it’s not possible for us to sit here and say exactly how much electricity a router uses as there are so many on the market and they will all be slightly different in terms of how much power they use. 

We can speak in general terms though. So generally speaking, a router will use roughly in a range of 2 to 20 watts to run. The average router uses 6 watts. 

So how much is that actually costing us? According to .Gov the current average price per kWh here in the UK is 34 pence. If you are using the average router at 6 watts per hour, then you would be using 0.00204 pence of electricity per hour that it’s running. 

Over the course of a day, that’s about 5p (rounded up) for the router to be on. So 35p per week, £1.37 per month. That’s a total of £16.45 for the year! 

So if you switched off your router overnight, let’s say for 9 hours, that’s really not going to be a massive saving is it? Every little helps and all that – But you’d be saving about 12p per week in exchange for the possible disruption we mentioned earlier. 

Even if you have one of the more expensive routers to run at 20 watts per hour, you would still only be saving about £1.26 per week. 

And let’s not forget that some homes have special economy metres that enable householders to benefit from lower priced electricity overnight. In which case, the savings from switching off your router would be even less! 

Whether or not it’s worth switching off your router to save electricity is really a personal preference! 

Connectivity Alliance – Telecoms Providers Join UK Landowners 

Last week on November 23rd, UK telecommunications providers, infrastructure providers and landowners joined together to form the NCA (National Connectivity Alliance). Why? Well. the main aim is to make collaboration easier on mutual areas of interest as well as aid the rollout of new networks. 

Let’s think about digital infrastructure for a moment – We’re talking about things like trenches for optical fibre cables and mobile masts. It’s easy to see why landowners and digital infrastructure developers might not be on the same wavelength (if you’ll pardon the pun). Previously, landowners would only allow operators to deploy infrastructure on their land in return for high rental fees. This would in turn have a knock on effect for consumers and telecommunications providers as operators would be unable to increase their coverage due to expensive rental fees. 

Back in 2017, the government amended the ECC (Electronic Communications Code) in order to make it more straightforward (and cheaper) for operators to access both public and private land. However, this didn’t have the balancing effect needed and lent instead more in favour of the providers – Some forcing rent of an extremely lower price. 

These lower rents didn’t take into account that landowners had multiple considerations to make like:

  • Facilitating access 
  • Ability to repurpose sites for other ventures (or inability to do so once infrastructure had been deployed)
  • Impact on insurance of any kit fitted to a roof
  • Safety risks for residents near base stations
  • Keeping an area used for deployment in good repair

You can see why this could easily end with disputes in court! Of course, the goal for everyone is to successfully roll out broadband and mobile networks, and the upcoming PSTI bill (Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure) plans to make the changes needed to do just this. 

It’s clear to see that something like the NCA is necessary to help increase collaboration between both landowners and digital infrastructure developers. 

The NCA Chair and Co-Founder is Partner at Blaser Mills Law. Carlos Pierce is thrilled to launch this cross-industry body that will benefit all parties – Including the general public. This new found collective of landowners and digital infrastructure developers will help improve digital connectivity for all. Industry experts bring about best practice, as well as helping landowners to have a deeper understanding of all things digital infrastructure. This combination of education and communication through this NCA collaboration brings an awareness of the needs of all parties in this sector, eventually benefitting the general public. 

The Minister for Digital Infrastructure, Julia Lopez MP, welcomes this new alliance in support of ‘world class connectivity’ for all people across the UK, regardless or whether they live in a city or rural area. Bringing together industry experts and landowners in this way will go a long way in helping negotiations so that all parties are happy. As a result, we can expect this new NCA to boost connectivity, productivity and even the economy. 

You can find out more about the NCA and what they’re about by visiting their website, or have a read of their latest press release here

Image from https://www.ncalliance.org.uk

How Can I Test My Broadband Speed?

Are you paying for 70Mbps but only getting 1Mbps? If you’ve checked your router and everything seems in order there, then you might want to be reliably checking your broadband speed as well as your Wi-Fi. 

When you obtain broadband from an Internet Service Provider (ISP), they are responsible for getting their broadband service to your home as far as the router. That’s where their responsibility ends. After that, your Wi-Fi is up to you. 

A speed checker won’t check the speed of your Wi-Fi inside your home, but rather the broadband speed that is delivered to your premises before going through your router. 

It’s worth remembering that you will often be offered broadband speeds of ‘up to’ a certain Mbps – That means that roughly 10% of customers will get that speed, but many more will get lower. 

What is broadband speed affected by? 

There are lots of factors that affect broadband speed. 

  • The distance the property is from the exchange
  • The wiring (quality, number of joints)
  • Router quality
  • Time of day broadband is being used (How many people are vying for bandwidth at the same time)

When you are measuring broadband speed, it can also be affected by the router and the computer being used to test. 

The best way to get an accurate measure of your broadband speed is by connecting a device to the router using an Ethernet cable. Internet connections via Ethernet cable are faster and more reliable than Wi-Fi, so will give you a more reliable measure of broadband speed. 

To test your broadband speed, turn off the Wi-Fi on your device and then plug it directly into the router using an Ethernet cable. 

Remember that your ISP can’t do anything about your internet speed from your router onwards. By measuring the speed through an Ethernet cable, you can see how fast it’s coming in at. You are likely to measure a much lower speed using a device on the Wi-Fi. If the speed you measure via Ethernet cable is close to your Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) speed, then you’re doing alright. But you can’t expect to get the same speeds on a device using the Wi-Fi like your tablet or phone. 

How can I test my own broadband speed?

There are two types of speed tests you can do – Casual and Serious. 

How to Do a Casual Broadband Speed Test

Go to any broadband speed checker on your browser – You can find them on Google. You can run the test directly through your browser. 

How to Do a Serious Broadband Speed Test

This one is a bit more involved. 

  1. Turn off your PC / laptops Wi-Fi connection 
  2. Connect the PC / laptop to the router using an Ethernet cable
  3. Turn off any other devices that are using the internet connection (e.g. TV’s, smartphones etc
  4. Restart your router
  5. Restart your PC / laptop and keep any unnecessary programmes closed down (that includes anti-virus software)
  6. Open a clean browser window and go to your chosen broadband speed tester

What results should I be getting? 

To check if the results seem reliable, you can use different browsers and see if there is a difference, for example, between Edge and Chrome. If you are getting approximately the following speeds on the below connections, then you don’t have any major problems.

ADSL connection – 7Mbps

ADSL2 connection – 12-16Mbps

FTTC connection – 30Mbps

Cable connection – 50Mbps

Mobile broadband connection – 20Mbps 

Remember that the results can vary and can be affected by:

  • The server
  • The local exchange
  • The internet itself
  • And more! 

It may also be worth testing the speed at varying times of day and see what you find. 

How do I know which broadband speed checker to use?

For the best results, you should use a local service with the lowest latency or ‘ping’ rate. 

According to the Guardian, the three best speed checkers were:

I’ve tested my broadband speed and it looks fine – So why am I having issues? 

Maybe you’ve got a Wi-Fi problem rather than a broadband speed problem. 

If your device works better when it’s closer to the router, then perhaps the problem is the signal strength, and getting that signal to where you are wanting to use your device most. 

If your Wi-Fi is just slow in general, it could be that your router is the problem. If your ISP won’t upgrade the one you currently have, then maybe you could replace it with an alternative and upgrade it? 

The problem could even be your device itself! See if a friend or family member has a different / newer device that you could test on your Wi-Fi and see if you encounter the same problems. 

Who can help with broadband speed tests and Wi-Fi issues?

If all of the above feels a bit confusing or if you’ve carried out the test but don’t understand the results then don’t panic! Here at Geekabit, our Wi-Fi experts are currently developing our own best-in-class solution for supporting people who wish to record and verify their internet speeds. Coming soon!

Law Passed to Give Everyone Right to Fast Internet in Germany 

In April 2021, all German citizens were promised the right to fast internet for the first time ever via a new law passed by the Bundestag. 

Whilst that sounds great in theory, what does that actually mean in practise? Giving everyone the legal right to fast internet sounds like a blanket statement, but in reality it will likely affect people differently rather than a universal thing. 

Does everyone in Germany have fast internet? 

Germans have been used to slow internet with pages taking a long time to load and unreliable connections. This promise of faster internet for all should have brought a quicker connection to the people of Germany this summer just passed, with the law forcing an improvement in upload speeds, download speeds and latency. 

Prior to this, internet users in Germany were entitled to functional internet access – At a speed of 0.056 mbps. The recent law aimed to significantly increase this minimum speed.

Who will benefit the most from this law change? 

To ascertain how much the speed needed to increase, the average download and upload speeds plus latency were calculated. 

The highest 20% of internet speeds were not included in the calculation as much of the German population already enjoyed faster internet speeds. The lower 80% had slower connections and would benefit more from the law change. 

With this in mind, those who lived in rural areas were more likely to be positively affected by the law change, as many of the more major cities in Germany already had fast internet available to them. 

For people who were struggling with an unreliable, slow connection (particularly those in rural areas who notoriously grapple with bad internet connections), a commission to a new provider with relocated broadband access would be investigated. 

But even with the law change, will the minimum internet speed be enough? 

Faster internet speeds – What about the UK? 

In UK law, it is the legal right for every home and business to request a decent, affordable broadband connection. 

‘Decent’ is defined as meeting the internet needs of an average family. It has been deemed by previous Ofcom research that a speed of 10mbps (download) is enough to meet these needs, enabling multiple family members to be online at the same time. 

Affordability is based on paying no more than £48.50 per month for broadband. Many people pay much less than this for their internet connection per month. 

The UK saw the government ensure that everyone in the UK had access to broadband speeds of at least 10Mbps by 2020. This universal high speed internet is delivered by a regulatory body as a Universal Service Obligation. 

Post pandemic there has been a huge upsurge in working from home, and people needing strong, reliable, fast internet for business operations at their kitchen table. Think Zoom calls, Teams collaborations, Slack messages and data transfers. That’s a lot more internet traffic than our home networks are used to.

It’s also worth mentioning that in 2022, the average internet download speed is 79.1Mbps. That is significantly faster than the 10Mbps deemed fast enough for the average family home. So whilst the legally mandated minimum is 10Mbps here in the UK, the current average internet speed indicates that this probably needs to be much, much higher. Especially as the European Union has plans for universal broadband of 100Mbps by 2025. 

The increase of those working from home also means that the importance of good upload speeds has also increased. Think remote designers needing to download, edit and upload large files, or group video conference calls. 

In essence, the majority of households need a strong, fast and reliable internet connection in order to work and play from their homes. The current USO doesn’t meet the average speed of internet use across the UK. 

The way we use the internet has changed dramatically over the past couple of years, and we need UK law to reflect this. The pandemic showed the volume of data double almost overnight. 

Our home broadband networks need to reflect the increased prevalence of remote working. This need for fast internet on a reliable connection needs to be written in law, and the USO minimum speed increased.

Broadband Top of Wish List for House Buyers 

In a recent survey carried out on house buyers, it was revealed that 20% would not buy a property if it had slow internet speeds. 

Likewise, a house having super-fast internet is often a deal-breaker when it comes to house hunting with many prospective buyers viewing the Wi-Fi connection more important than the number of bedrooms. 

Whilst the size of a property is still the most important thing to most house buyers, for many house hunters that is the only thing that the quality and speed of the internet comes second best to. And, according to estate agents in Scotland and the Southwest, some prospective house buyers value the availability of high-quality broadband above everything else. Even house size. 

Nearly a third of estate agents surveyed said their clients were least likely to compromise on high-quality broadband. This feature was deemed more important than local amenities or above space! 

According to Ofcom, by the end of 2021 full-fibre broadband was available to 8.2 million homes (28%). This was 3 million more premises (10 percentage points) than a year ago, and represents the highest year-on-year increase since full fibre started being rolled out in the UK.

Does availability of Wi-Fi affect house prices? 

The rollout of this internet upgrade seems to be affecting the price of property. When comparing exactly the same house but one with a broadband connection of 300 Mbps and one without, the one without broadband would be worth around £5K less. 

Unsurprisingly, COVID also seems to have had an effect on this. Suddenly the UK population was plunged into home-working, with so many more households relying on a strong, reliable Wi-Fi connection for work and home-learning. 

Nearly three quarters of agents surveyed said they saw an increase in questions specifically regarding the quality and speed of the broadband connection when considering a property since the pandemic. 

SpeedScore from Geekabit Wi-Fi Experts

With a decade of providing connectivity solutions to UK markets, Geekabit saw how house buyers, tenants and hospitality customers are getting more tech savvy and starting to ask questions about internet speeds and reliability.

Thus, back in October last year, we launched our innovative Internet Connectivity Measurement Platform – Geekabit SpeedScore. 

This gives you a variety of tools to help provide an independent certification of your internet speeds and connectivity. Ideal if you’re an estate agent trying to prove the speed and connectivity of a property’s internet! 

You can read more about SpeedScore here