broadband Business

RightMove, wrong data?

Broadband speed data used by Estate Agents to sell houses needs keeping up to date.

To an ever-increasing number of us, broadband is pretty darn important. So much so, that access to it (or not) can affect major life decisions. Such as where to have a coffee, or even which house to buy or rent.

If you are trying to run a business from home, broadband is essential. If you are a farmer, you need a decent connection for all the online cow passport, animal movement, SFP etc forms. If you are of school age, you need to study and upload homework. If you are isolated, it can give you access to friends, family, and the world generally. Basically, it is the 4th utility which many of us cannot live without and many people are catching up with this reality.

So, it was with interest that I saw that last weekend and early in the week, the mainstream media picked up on this with relation to house values and property desirability. Headlines such as these below.

broadband vital to home values

slow broadband

They say an Englishman’s home is his castle. Well, it may be time to prepare the flaming tar barrels and deepen the moat, as it would seem our castles could be under attack. Or at least the value of them, perceived and actual.

The state of broadband in this country appears to be almost entirely out of (our) control. Despite years of endeavouring to bring those in decision making positions up to speed about what was, is and would be required, and the importance of broadband to the economy and social well-being of this country, we are proceeding at the most desultory pace towards becoming a competitive, connected nation. Think 10 years or so until we have caught up with the likes of the broadband position Moldavia, Latvia or South Korea enjoy TODAY.

The level of disinformation, poor decision making, marketing hype, and wasted money is surely at an all-time high? Which considering some of the previously truly disastrous decisions this country has made in the past for its citizens and industry, and with the public purse, is saying something.

On top of these articles was a press release from the property website, RightMove.  It seems that, realising by talking to estate agents (which I have been doing for 10 years but no-one seemed to hear what I was reporting back) that broadband had become one of the key factors in house purchase and rental, RightMove decided to add a speedchecker to every property on its website. Don’t get me wrong – this is a good decision, if implemented well, but it may turn out to have unexpected consequences.

This speedchecker is powered by data provided by PointTopic. (And I hope Tim or Oliver Johnson may step in and comment here about just where that data is being sourced from).  Let’s illustrate the problem with a speedcheck for a rural home. And to properly show how ludicrous these results are, let’s choose a property on the B4RN network in a village where the take-up of B4RN gigabit is over 50%.

rightmove broadband speechecker B4RN

Now, I only did A Level Maths, but I’m fairly sure that the average speed (and isn’t it the ‘mean’?) in an area where over 50% of the houses are connected to 1000Mbps, cannot be 0.12Mbps.

Unless, not only are the laws of Physics rendered obsolete by broadband marketing, but also the basic mathematical laws that the statisticians et al rely on!

Further investigation reveals results which are wrongerer still. (If maths and physics are under attack, English can suffer too!)

We have RightMove claiming homes can already get up to 80Mbps superfast in areas which have not been enabled, either commercially or under BDUK, whilst the BT Wholesale Checker shows no VDSL data and only shows up to 1Mbps on what appear to be EOL lines. The technical amongst you can discuss how this could be possible below and provide many more examples – I know people have been running tests all week. Discussions on the accuracy and source of the data being used are also permitted.

Estate Agent's Guide to Broadband 2014Whilst consumer, vendors, purchasers and estate agents have to try to wade their way through this morass of incorrect data, (and presumably estate agents will be sharing these speedcheck results during viewings?) your house value could drop by up to 20%, which on the mean house value at present is a cool £50k. In light of this, permit me to resort to some shameless self-promotion. Why not blow a whopping £3.99 on The Estate Agent’s Guide to Broadband as a gift and help to educate a property agent near you? One day, you may be very glad of it. The Guide was written partly in response to the above articles and because such information for property vendors, letting and estate agents is long overdue.

And you could also go and demand answers from your MP, local authority, Westminster and Whitehall about what exactly is being done to protect your castle from this dire situation. Castles which many may need to resort to selling to make up OUR pension shortfall.

Lindsey Annison

By Lindsey Annison

JFDI Internet marketer, author, Fibre To The Home and rural broadband campaigner, idea merchant

41 replies on “RightMove, wrong data?”

Spot on!
I think estate agents need to get their act together really quickly, because up to now they haven’t got it at all, not like them to miss a selling point but they have.
Most of the places where B4RN goes end up between 80 and 100% take up. I would imagine the same applies for all the altnets, especially those doing high speed wifi or fibre or fiwipie.
Doubt we’ll get a speedtester with enough server capacity to measure those speeds for a few years!
Another point that needs making is that home wifi isn’t a good test, they need to use an ethernet cable to the router to get the full speed, and many only have older computers that can go up to about 500 meg.
If you want to sell your house you need to know this stuff, so maybe the book is good for sellers as well as their agents?

And buyers too…..? After all, if you do have a great connection and the speedchecker is telling potential buyers that you have a miserable one (as in the example above), there are some pointers in the Guide how to overcome this mis-information.

Just checked our house. Apparently we’re connected and get Superfast Broadband.
That’s great! Because BT and everyone else has failed to connect us to anything at all for the last 6 years!…..
Dear RightMove, please can you now connect us up?

This is why it would be really useful if PointTopic could get involved. We can only make (intelligent) guesses….

B4RN might be able to confirm whether the data for their network for that particular postcode was available on 30/06/2013 as I suspect the B4RN data is a more recent addition to the dataset.

well spotted Peter, I didn’t see the data was so dated. That sort of makes the whole thing pointless really, as cabinets are being enabled all the time so the data needs updating on a regular basis to be meaningful I suppose. Every day the B4RN percentage creeps higher too, hopefully Wray will get into the higher percentages in the next few weeks as more houses are connected. Houses that were up for rent and just got a connection made and not service are now getting tenants very quickly and asking for service. Perhaps word of mouth works better than the rightmove website? A good connection is a better asset than a quick coat of paint and cheaper than getting the decorator there. Folk are happy to decorate, redo the garden, kitchen or bathroom but they can’t magic up some decent broadband if their house is on a long old copper phone line.

I agree with Lindsey that the Rightmove website for house purchasers and vendors does, perhaps unintentionally, distort matters. Let us pretend for a moment to be involved in the sale or purchase of the Quernmore C. E. Primary school located within LA2 9EL. The Rightmove web site shows their “average” as 0.83 Mbps but it does also mention the 1,000 Mbps B4RN true Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) product, along with the BT Wholesale & retail “Up to 80 Mbps” products.

However if the phone number is entered into the BT Wholesale web site

a more accurate summary is revealed. Firstly that NO BT faster services will be available perhaps until after 31 May 2014 and that date is qualified by “ Where planned or expected availability dates are shown, these may be liable to change.” Other caveats include ADSL** and FTTC∞∞ rates will be determined during the first 10 days of service” and “Throughput speeds will be less than line rates ….”

Returning to the Wholesale availability estimator the unsurprising results are that NO service of any description provided by BT is, or will be, available above 1 (ONE) Mbps. The reason is that faster speeds using the existing twisted pair cables drop quite dramatically with the line distance of the actual cable route involved – in this case to Cabinet 28 on the Lancaster exchange. (The line route distance to the FTTC is, in all probability, around 2 km away. We should also point out that the estimator is, quite reasonably, usually a little pessimistic.) I.e. a VDSL§§ faster FTTC service might be a little faster BUT the higher frequency signals used are more fragile than the ADSL ones so are subject to ongoing degradation either due to worsening line conditions or when more broadband services within the same cable are connected.

It follows that if you are fortunate and your line route is no more than 300 or 400 m away from the FTTC, then you can confidently expect to obtain the “Up to 80 Mbps” speeds if you pay the premium rate. If you are less fortunate then the speeds drop and are often less reliable.

To complete this appraisal we should mention the Virgin Media cable solution discussed in the Rightmove “What is superfast broadband” section. Firstly BOTH VM and BT use fibre to the cabinet connections. They both must contend with the laws of physics. The VM design is a single co-axial cable along each road (similar to a very fat TV aerial cable). It can be considered like a water main with services tapped off the single cable. Sufficient power (water pressure) is applied at the cabinet to reach the far end of the cable; those close to the cabinet have attenuators (pressure reducing valves) included usually close to the modem to reduce the power to the required levels. It follows that VM speeds can usually be retained over the entire length of the cable. Conversely the BT twisted pair solution must inevitably lose signal strength (and quality) over the line distance. Each individual twisted pair is in close proximity to many others; possibly up to 400 pairs. This solution has to protect the existing broadband services in the same cable bundle; so to reduce interference (i.e. cross-talk) the power is often reduced. This in turn affects the speeds available to maintain a reliable service.

** ADSL Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line i.e. the download speed is substantially faster than the upload speed

∞∞FTTC = Fibre To The Cabinet only.

§§VDSL = Very fast Digital Subscriber Line i.e. the new “language” the faster services employ.


1. VM services are also asymmetric

2. B4RN service is far closer to a symmetric service with similar hyper-fast speeds both up and down. This becomes crucial if you are attempting video conferencing, cloud computing or running a business Virtual Private Network. The B4RN service does not require a telephone line rental as Voice Over Internet Protocol calls are available at a small extra cost using a global service supplier. Domestic video telephone calls are simple with an application such as Skype as well as more sophisticated solutions for global business video conferencing.

It follows that if you are very fortunate to have a true FTTH solution available the whole area becomes more economically attractive for businesses and home owners alike. I.e. small rural businesses can profit from far cheaper and more reliable hyper-fast broadband than many of their urban counterparts. In B4RN’s case the entire network is buried so they don’t suffer storm damage nor does water ingress affect the fibres.

Very well done if you have got this far !!
Perhaps it is now evident that flashing sparkly meteors have very little to do with real life physics and that infinity is a very long way off.

Wow Walter, usually I don’t understand very much of what you say, but that is crystal clear even to me. I just wish the politicians would read it! They still think fibre broadband comes down a phone line and hand our taxes to an incumbent with a multimillion pound marketing lobby and a gold plated pension pot ready for when they hand the infrastructure back to the state having leached the assets for an extra decade.

There is a 21st century version of old estate agents adage of location location location. It’s location location broadband speed. Broadband speed is the most emotive subject that gets discussed on this blog.

Back in the days before BT pulled the plug on our FTTC cabinet map the fact that one street was getting FTTC and the next not would lead to a lot of complaints.

Only when we all have FTTP will it go away and we can then get back to complaining about the weather. The weather this Sunday morning is particularly nice so I’m off…

I am in the middle of 9 properties with the same postcode, RM says 1.97M, but I get 4.8M.

The site says: To test the speed of a connection, we bombard it with little pulses of data and see how quickly they come back to us.

When you put in a postcode it gives the impression it is doing a test, however it is not.

Everyone happy with the government funding full FTTP for £10B/20B/30B?

Just because FTTC is such a “Superfarce”, doesn’t mean to say that the government has to spend billions on FTTP in order to provide it.
It is not beyond the wit of man, BDUK, BT or any other provider to provide fast connected FTTN (fibre to the node) nodes into geographic areas where providing faster broadband over cable (Virgin) or our antiquated telephone network (BT) – doesn’t work.
Fund FTTN in those areas, and let communities do the rest.
The problem with doing that at present is that the fibre network is a closed shop, and that all the money supposed to be used to connect rural communities has been snaffled by BT’s FTTC ‘Superfarce’.
The bit that really annoys me is that rural communities like mine, supposedly enabled by BT and claimed as such by them (although we get no Broadband at all) have no alternatives except for forming companies ourselves and dig our own fibre right back to the network, without the benefit of ANY of the £1.5 billion subsidy that BT is getting.

@ Chris,

I thought I would continue this short essay which Lindsey started aimed mainly at estate agents and surveyors (as well as the house buying public). We should mention that a fibre transmission line sending pulses of light down a very thin glass tube is also subject to the laws of physics, even though physics is much kinder here. That is the major reason modern systems chose it in the first place !

Glass is not affected in any way by electrical / radio noise nor even by lightning (unless a direct hit melts it underground) and can reach distances at least up to 10 km with the cheapest engineering design.

We should also consider how the fibres are utilised. The B4RN design, for instance, uses point-to-point connections as the overall total cost of installing fibre cables is comparatively insignificant whether the bundle contains 96, 144 or even larger sizes. There is a cheaper installation design where a single fibre from a distribution node is split up into 32 different feeds to households. Although perhaps commercially attractive particularly for a monopoly, this design has significant limitations still with asymmetric services and more importantly with consideration of future expansion.

We mentioned the dreaded word “commercial” so that too merits a little further exploration. The B4RN “Community Interest Company” is not concerned with making a profit for shareholders, only requiring that it doesn’t make a loss. When surplus cash is available it can be used to repay loans, expand the network, reduce the monthly fees, or used for other community projects such as playing fields, village halls etc. That is one of the reasons that EVERY single property throughout the entire area is guaranteed to be provided with a fibre service if they request one. However as some trenches might be over 3 km for an individual property, it doesn’t mean they will all have the service installed tomorrow ! Were B4RN to draw a map similar to one recently produced for Cumbria it would show absolutely solid colour throughout this area of Lancashire in total and very stark contrast to the pockmarked Cumbrian one with far too much white still remaining.

Returning to the commercial pressures of conventional companies, it is almost impossible to justify universal service connections nor it seems to even develop the existing twisted pair network towards a comprehensive fibre one. Elsewhere I have been criticised for not recognising the difference between Capital Expenditure and Operating Expenditure. You might think these are just fascinating accountancy tools. However they can have profound implications for the users. In the Surrey village of Albury a Huawei 288 FTTC has been installed as part of the public subsidy. It is fitted out completely as the green cabinet contains well over 400 services. As only one set of 100 pair tie cables and only a single duct have been installed, I assume that Surrey CC pay BT for the whole 288 cabinet but the ducts and tie cables are covered by BT’s operating expenses. The villagers will no doubt be surprised when they observe how long they have to wait for the duplicated upheavals of re-excavations and installations of the next two sets of tie cables. What a difference from the B4RN approach with all fibre feed cables installed over-sized from day one !

Finally as comments to Peter and O B on their posts of this morning, perhaps we should observe what the results of all the taxpayers’ subsidy is actually achieving. We should insist that BT Openreach is totally separated from the rest of the BT group with a clear mandate to replace the entire twisted pair network over say 10 years, making it truly independent of any commercial interests.

I permit myself a wry smile when recollecting my paper to the House of Commons back in 2009 during the time of Lord Carter

and also our paper to SCC in 2011 which was totally ignored long before their quite ludicrous 99.x % BT “contract” was awarded.

Some of the data is now stale but here is a more recent summary of sample data, although even this requires a little amendment now.

One reason why replacing all the copper may not be important:

‘It allows devices from heart monitors to kitchen appliances to communicate through wireless internet connections.’

‘Mr Cameron said: ‘These are developments that could allow literally billions of everyday objects to talk to each other over the internet – using low-cost, low-power chips.
‘And this has enormous potential to change our lives. Electricity meters that talk to the grid to get you the best deals. Health monitors that keep an eye on your heart rate. Water pipes that warn of a fall in pressure. (?!)

Read more:

@ Peter,

Yet another red herring ?

However you are fortunate that your achieved sync speed is better than that forecast by Rightmove for BS24 9TU perhaps because they haven’t yet caught up with 21CN WBC speeds ? What a pity that BT haven’t yet scheduled SSBLE for FTTC yet.

Why is it a red herring, and what are the others? It’s a news item that might be of interest.

Was the big mistake the government not letting BT roll out FTTP many years ago to protect the cable companies who had big plans but gave up? Anyway it is about where we are now.

How does the government (we) get Openreach to replace all the copper?

We have some of the PointTopic data for our own maps and get periodic updates.

We chased when the RightMove release appeared as the data was so old, but seems an agreement has been reached with Point Topic to supply updates.

A lot of Point Topic data is calculated based on the known performance parameters of ADSL or FTTC based services, then with the addition of Virgin Media availability. Oddly when I look in areas with lots of cable coverage and also has had FTTC based services for sometime the speeds do not jump.

So it is entirely feasible that RightMove is only putting out results for ADSL/ADSL2+ based services. Those sorts of answers can only come from RightMove, it may even be they just asked for ADSL broadband data from Point Topic.

On one issue, there is a certain UK speed test that can test Gigabit connections and things like the ISPA testing software that is testing proper ultra fast services.

think broadband even has a tester out that does not need flash or java, so those people with a AC based WiFi router should be able to get good speeds from their tablet or phone. In fact we have had people doing speed tests on their Smart TV. Want to play try

Can’t imagine why that never dawned on me, Peter? Of course, let’s leave vast swathes of the country disconnected and enjoying obsolete copper because our entire lives will be far better if our fridge can order food directly for us rather than letting us have a choice. Or my toaster can tweet even though I personally will be unable to read it as I won’t have a job to pay for my satellite. Or my heart monitor can get in touch with an increasingly dismantled NHS – I’ll just have to hope there is someone at the other end, eh? By Jove, I think you’ve got IT.

Trefor did suggest to me that nobody wants to bother with reading links.
Therefore I should not be surprised that nobody has commented at all on mine above so I will extract some of the summary text.

1. From the Parliamentary enquiry paper:-

This paper offers the practical experiences of a Surrey village of 1000
properties in attempting to improve broadband performance where the
present telephone exchange is too far away at over 3 km.
It provides comments on the (Parliamentary enquiry) B & E C questions and additional information including an outline National remedy. It appears that a nation-wide
communications “rail crash” is upon us which requires similar remedies
and which will not be rectified by commercially competing interests nor
minuscule phone line taxes.

2. From the SCC Paper:-

Submission for Surrey County Council & Others
An analysis of the likely population coverage of
private sector Broadband deployment plans &
the potential danger to SCC’s Broadband project
if these are misunderstood
1. The paper compares data provided by Ofcom and BT’s Fibre-To-
The-Cabinet data, together with on-the-ground observations in Surrey.
2. Our analysis suggests that commercially provided superfast
Broadband coverage for Surrey is currently projected to be 44% and
is unlikely to reach the 80% level on which SCC’s plans have been
3. Therefore the SCC project must deliver adequate Broadband to far
more premises than originally envisaged; consequently the project is in
danger of failure before it has even begun.

3. From our sample data results paper

Villages and rural communities should take heed and be forewarned of incomplete coverage and poor broadband performance….data on which this warning is based ……..

….. currently being publicly funded in other parts of Surrey will fall far short of the Surrey County Council target to provide “superfast” broadband access to more than 99% of premises. The whole solution is totally unsuitable for those businesses requiring a symmetric speed (the same for upload and download) service necessary for cloud computing, virtual private networks, video conferencing etc.
….. Since Ewhurst is not unique, the BT solution cannot solve Surrey’s and the UK’s difficulties. The BT deployment provides an alternative to the superior co-axial cable solution that Virgin Media offer in urban areas, but is quite inappropriate in rural areas where there is no appreciable competition from VM or others.
The conclusion for Ewhurst is that an estimated 226 households are at such a distance that they will not be able to access greater than 24Mbps, the Government defined superfast minimum.
Of the 226 households, it is estimated there are 69 premises, including a number with multiple occupancies, where BT’s Fibre-To-The-Cabinet infrastructure is incapable of providing any service at all…..

it wasn’t that people don’t want to read links W. It’s that they are more likely to read them if there is a brief description of what lies at the other end. I’ll stay out of it 🙂

If one looks at the Cranleigh exchange as a whole and no account has been made for ADSL2+ speeds down at the lower end, so numbers on slow speeds is likely to be less in reality.

Area covers 4837 premises (if all cabs FTTC enabled)
835 are estimated to get over 60 Mbps
1211 are estimated to get over 40 Mbps
1100 are estimated to get over 30 Mbps
581 are estimated to get over 24 Mbps
0 are estimated to get 20 Mbps
572 are estimated to get 15 Mbps
218 are estimated to get 10 Mbps
126 are estimated to get 5 Mbps
92 are estimated to get 2 Mbps
102 are estimated to get under 2 Mbps (inc EO lines)
4 premises are on Exchange Only lines

The technology to fix the slow lines exist, the question is whether the Surrey project has the funding available to do so, i.e. deploy some FTTP to serve the longest lines to meet the target. To hit the superfast 99% figure it is clear to anyone with an ounce of sense that this is the only way to hit the target the easy ones get FTTC first, then come back around in later phases and do the rest.

Has anyone asked Surrey CC if they have totalled ruled out FTTP for infill in later phases to bring coverage levels up to publically stated levels?

At the end of the day with a Value for money driven roll-out where value is generally considered to be the cheapest that just about does the job, i.e. Sainsbury Basic rather than Waitrose Dinner Party Selection, it is not clear what could be done differently.

In the commercial world if a product is sub-standard or too expensive then it leaves a window of opportunity for someone else to move in. Of course it can be said and is by some that BT has done just enough to scare off any competition, though going boo to Virgin Media scares them off usually.

@ Andrew,

There are a number of special circumstances surrounding the THCN Cranleigh exchange and
Ewhurst in particular. BT’s quite disgraceful predatory behaviour destroyed our RDPE approved grant (and destroyed Vtesse Networks as a competitor too). SCC have to date said that Ewhurst is a commercial development so must be excluded from all State Aid, although a few “non-viable” cabinets in the rest of Cranleigh are I believe being funded. As Ewhurst lines from the exchange are all over 3 km ADSL2+ is probably non-existent and even ADSL2 yields many at similar speeds and a few at less. The BT deployment consisted of three ECI 128s but only equipped with a single 64 channel card and only a single set of 100 pr tie cables each. The “busiest” cabinet 20 was subject to extended delays from December 2012 onwards with nothing available after July 2013 until very recently. BT tried to hide this by falsely claiming one resident’s line was too long when the other half of the semi-detached property achieved around 15 Mbps down the same drop cable.

@ Peter,
As I am right handed, I don’t need my left to enjoy a pint but we all know that splitting the hairs as you attempt to do is preposterous.

I know you and I have differing views on a few things – especially on why as a nation we’re not using public money to provide for the most difficult third first… BUT, I do agree with your desktop estimates, in that with VDSL on good lines – those close to a cabinet might get acceptable speeds. I do want to make a couple of points:
1. All your data here is based upon desktop ESTIMATES and not real world empirical testing – which would only be degraded by jointing/splices and cable deterioration. Our own real world experience shows massive line attenuation and matching large VDSL speed drop for just a few joints in circuit.
2. Our own experiences of VDSL coverage are nowhere near as good as everyone ESTIMATES they should be. Having spent two days recently doing another door to door canvass of a nearby and recently FTTC’d village, those within 720m of a cabinet generally got better than ADSL. Those outside 720m had better speed on ADSL where they could get it, but a significant group either got under 0.8Mbps on ADSL or nothing at all. The nothing at all on our sample of 519 properties was 36.8% (191 properties). The estimates we had for the same area was 93-96% coverage depending upon who we asked, so we do have to be careful when using estimates over real world experience.
3. Data availability – BT won’t release FTTC cabinet locations even though it’s public money funding them. That makes it tough to do a quick map and then visit the ‘outliers’ to see if estimate matches reality. We have done a small sample here (just under 1000 properties) that would show that in general (and this is only for the areas we have walked) that the BT and other range claims for both ADSL and VDSL2 are very optimistic indeed! A very crude comparison of the ground survey here – to the estimates would suggest that the BT estimating engine is out by 40% – with the range of service being 60% less than advertised and the speed drop about the same – especially at times of high contention. We’re not doing any more walking – because we’re only effectively revalidating what we know – and we have enough data for our purposes.
4. Our concern here is for a significant community and population unable to get ADSL (or at under 1Mbps and intermittent) and with no hope of VDSL. This means that under the current funding supposedly designed to address our needs – BT’s solution of FTTC will never reach us. Put many of us into BT’s checker – and we already supposedly have 2Mbps or more. We don’t.

So this is about who do we believe.. A desktop checker and estimates or a real world look-see?
There will always be exceptions and examples to prove both sides – like those in a recently cabled area who may approach a decent speed at 3000m – but in my experience ON THE GROUND – these are the exception here.
As for Asymmetric not being important Peter, – I’d argue that as more data starts being stored on the Cloud and we have less local storage – then yes, it becomes very important indeed.

What our exercise has taught us, (and a 6 year battle with BT to bring ANY service here) is that for this community despite the media hype – the cavalry are not coming.
We have been forced to dig our own fibre, unfunded and in the face of market dominance/control by BT’s monopoly. As Chris Conder said about BDUK’s abject failure to address this issue – the UK needs fibre, both moral and optical.

SamKnows says Cranleigh serves 6497 premises.

Walter – a symnetrical line is not needed for eg. video conferencing, just that the upload is sufficient.

Well Ofcom thinks its the 4837 figure based on their 2013 data, and I am not going to travel the area to count them personally, so one has to go on the data that one has to hand. Some other sources put it at less than this

I am pretty sure I have the exchange foot print correct.

Well I just walk out into a field and fucking shoot myself then, sorry for trying to put some data to the situation

GU6 7QF estimate 25 Mbps
and real world!lat=51.1559583883&lng=-0.4407868325370501&zoom=15&type=terrain&speed-cluster

GU6 7PN 24 Mbps
and real world!lat=51.1608377616&lng=-0.45066191559000934&zoom=15&type=terrain&speed-cluster

GU6 7NW 7 Mbps
and real world is a LOT better at 21 Mbps!lat=51.17002915944895&lng=-0.45896556916706465&zoom=15&type=terrain&speed-cluster

Andrew, I’ll forgive the expletive.
I suppose my weekend of knocking on doors, canvassing by phone and generally getting out in the field isn’t data?
Hmm. I’ll take my real world “actually walked data” over your desktop entry data any day for our particular area.
Don’t get me wrong – your tests/maps are a great guide – and does show how woeful the UK internet provision is.
Being ‘crowdsourced’ it is only a guide though and is not empirical evidence unless you verify the location that the test is being performed from…

It is incredibly easy to skew your data – and you have no checks on it.

Using a connection in my office, (on a Superfarce Cabinet 290m away and we get 38Mbps max), I entered in a postcode nearby for where I know there isn’t much of a phone line – let alone broadband access… The only thing up there are a few windswept sheep!
I did two tests – and guess what – that area (when it updates) on your map will show that it has decent broadband….
I know that’s the case since I’ve done that elsewhere on the Thinkbroadband map to demonstrate exactly the dangers of desktop data..

My lesson for the day: The only good, reliable data is data you have physically collected yourself and that you know you can repeat.

Trefor – I thank you for your links, and actually I read them – but they were so self explanatory, I didn’t feel the need to comment.
I do actually agree with around 90% of Andrew’s content and think the Thinkbroadband site is really good (with perhaps the best speed checker out there for the UK) however for the other 10% of the time he occasionally uses a different orifice. This sadly is one of those occasions.
Sorry Andrew, go and tend the Tomatoes mate.

Once upon a time in Durham, a young chap sat at his desk and produced a ton of data on his desktop which he then worked up into what he believed was a tenable idea to connect Upper Teasdale with a wireless broadband network with antenna on every lamppost. He called a meeting one evening in the village hall and all the concerned locals turned out as perhaps he might just have the solution to all their disconnected woes?

He showed them the maps, the slides, the data, the presentation and then one farmer at the back stood up and said, “Lad, just come outside a minute” They walked outside and the farmer said, “What lampposts? What street lights? Look for thasen….”

You know what I was going to write a measured and technical response but I don’t see the point seen as I talk out of an orifice.

I don’t mind being asked questions about methodologies etc but to have work thrown back in your face, when you are trying to help people really makes one wonder why I bother.

We’re all on the same side here chaps! I can understand your frustrations as data is so hard to get hold of and prove, and the tripe we are fed from the bt checker is mostly worthless. But hang in there. Eventually the powers that be will see the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.

Andrew Ferguson:

“Well I just walk out into a field and fucking shoot myself then”

So that is really helping people?

Look, I’ve done the hard slog on the ground here in the rain and drizzle, and so it’s hardly surprising do object when you contradict it with a pretty unnecessary and pointed expletive followed by easily skewed and third hand “evidence”.

I’m all for technical arguments – particularly if it is helpful, which I have indicated (IMHO and on current evidence for me) – is around 90% of the time! That’s not bad considering you are nowhere near the ground here and looking into the same BT holes in the ground that I am.

If we/you base all our arguments on your evidence, and BT’s speed checker – then yes, sorry Andrew, I do worry.
Why? Because we just fall into the same camp as those who will tell you that 2MB is perfectly OK!
It all starts to look like the same emperors clothes that BDUK, BT and Superfast Lancashire are peddling up here!
All I want is for people to realise that these desk estimates are not evidence enough to base the delivery numbers on. It’s a similar battle I’ve been having here for 6 years because BT are still convinced (because their estimation tool says so) that we can get 0.5MB ADSL. We can’t.

If telling you that occasionally by taking the same path, you’ve it a bit wrong – and that offends you, then I’m sorry.
It doesn’t change the fact that it’s wrong.

So I’m off now in the fading light to sort out if we can get fibre to here…
If so, then I might just go away and leave you all alone to play with your speed checker and maps!

Have a good weekend all – and yes, I do include you in that Andrew!

Whilst I certainly applaud Andrew’s Speed testing facilities which are some of the most comprehensive that I’m aware of the the UK, the results in this case are very puzzling indeed. Perhaps they are from earlier years ? Ewhurst FTTC cabinets were enabled in mid October 2012. PCP 20 has reached its original 128 pair capacity and PCP 19 is close behind. PCP 18 has just topped the 100 tie cable capacity which has caused even more delays and rework. The low take-up is in many cases due to outliers without sufficiently increased speeds and reliability. If I am asked I do make the point that a few VDSL services will be worse than ADSL ones.

If you consult our sample sync speed data (from the third link above) with postcodes you will see there are quite a number of very short ones achieving the maximum and a far more worrying set right down in the bilges ! Yet I haven’t seen a single data point in Ewhurst from Andrew’s accumulated throughput data above ADSL speeds ? Perhaps this is because the fastest have no concerns over speeds so they don’t bother to use the speed tester ? (I have also observed many that STILL pay for “up to 80” yet can’t even achieve 40 mbps sync speeds.)

There are other aspects too which require much boot-leather for a comprehensive network understanding of postcodes and cable routes. In addition I know of three properties which are so dire they have two and three broadband lines. One in particular uses a load-sharing router which has at least doubled Andrew’s VDSL speed record obtained there now. However all these aspects would be quite impossible to reflect accurately just with crowd-sourced data. As always with statistics it is crucial to understand and define what the source data is and thence how they are to be interpreted. Convincing public servants, politicians and commercial interests to use the data responsibly is another matter entirely !

Perhaps in the context of the B4RN P2P symmetric speeds we should just say that most are two orders of magnitude better than other available offerings ? That surely is a nice and simple way to convince the politicians – if of course they wish to listen. Something about horses and water comes to mind !!!!

Am fascinated by the fact that RightMove, PointTopic, BT and the local authorities mentioned feel that by not contributing to the discussion it will all just go away. Whilst they stick their heads in the sand, their bottoms are quite clearly left exposed for a good kicking!

This is a very poor PR approach that simply will not work in the 21st century with social media etc. The truth will out …

Perhaps they don’t have time in their short working day to read this blog Lins? Don’t forget those people are only 9-5ers and to them its just a job. The truth is coming out slowly but surely and eventually they will get their heads out of the sand and see the emperor has no clothes.

Institutionalised deception e.g. by an august body such as Ofcom will still convince those already satisfied in urban areas that all is well. However the insatiable demand for increased capacities and speeds shrinks those satisfied at an increasing rate.

It is absolutely vital that the “Fourth Utility” is constructed with universal connectivity only available via P2P fibre just as the GPO provided telephones for all. Subsidising a commercial entity for such a partial, inadequate and unsustainable solution is already failing far too many.

Who will grasp that nettle to put fibre tubes down the partially existing Virgin Media ducts but then extend a completely new infrastructure elsewhere is indeed a formidable challenge. An organisation attempting to satisfy its shareholders with profits from sports content seems to have little capability nor enthusiasm for so doing.

Why it all went wrong –

Walter – how would you justify putting fibre down VM ducts, and into every VM home? Presumably the vast majority of VM customers are happy with their speed.

If this is to achieve a national infrastructure then is everyone happy for the government to find £20B? to fund it? Before that happens there needs to be solutions for every ISP and phone provider to connect to it, or accept that some no longer have a place with this technology.

And people will still want their phone and broadband for £15/month.

people can’t get phone and broadband for £15 a month Peter, the landline alone is £16 a month. Yes they will still go for the cheapest service they can, but soon have to move to higher tariffs if they actually use it for anything.

My aunt did the sky cheapie. she only used it for the odd email and online shop. then she got an ipad. They immediately informed her she was using too much data and asked her to move to a higher tariff. You only get what you pay for, and rural areas on market 1 don’t get the cheaper deals anyway. Most of the refusniks wouldn’t use anything else for their phone line other than bt and won’t pay in advance, so the phone line remains at £16. add on the broadband and the calls, and it isn’t as cheap as you say it is. If altnets can deploy new fibre at acceptable costs in rural areas then it stands to reason that virgin and bt with existing infrastructure could do the same. They could also recycle the old copper and that would be worth a fair bit.

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