You may have read this morning about Ofcom’s report on broadband speeds. We thought it would be helpful to set out why speeds vary and what you can expect from an ISP like TalkTalk.
The speed of broadband you can receive depends on the distance from your property to the nearest telephone exchange. If you live more than 7km from an exchange you are unlikely to be able to receive any service at all; as you get closer the speed improves.
Once we have installed equipment in your local exchange we can deliver download speeds of 24 Mpbs (megabits per second). We then get BT to connect the copper wire that runs from your home to the exchange into our equipment. The length of your copper wire will determine how fast the service is when it gets to your home.
When you sign up to TalkTalk, we ask you to put your phone number and postcode into our availability checker on our website. This makes sure that you can get broadband where you live and estimates the speed you are likely to receive.
The estimate can only be theoretical at this stage. It is based on a number of factors but most importantly the distance you are from the exchange. On average 53% of people get a faster speed than we predict and 47% get a slower speed.
The reason for this is that until we connect your line, we cannot see the quality of your copper line. BT runs a huge ‘legacy’ network and we find significant variations in the performance of individual lines throughout that network, even between neighbouring properties.
We think there is more Ofcom could be doing to improve the flow of information from BT about what speeds can technically be achieved on its network, as well as getting it to improve the quality of the lines.
The reality is that when the BT network was built no one had ever dreamed of broadband, so we are all trying to run a 21st century technology over a network that was designed for making phone calls.
That’s why we’ve invested over £500m so far in our own, unbundled, fibre network, the largest unbundled network in the UK, covering 85% of the population. We’re continuing to invest in unbundling further exchanges this year too, allowing us to reach even more people.
Over time the move to install fibre will remove the imbalances that currently exist as we will be able to offer a consistent and much faster speed to everyone.
Our average ‘line sync’ speed across the network is 10.5 Mpbs. Our advertising claims up to 24 Mbps, because this is the truth, but we make sure every customer gets as honest an estimate as we can make as to the speed they will actually receive when they begin the process of signing up.
We provide our customers with information, advice, and special ‘speed kits‘ to help them optimise their connection and get the best broadband speed possible. We were also the first ISP to provide customers with this information, a policy Ofcom subsequently made part of its code. That’s why we’re very happy to sign up to Ofcom’s Broadband Speeds Code as a demonstration of our ongoing commitment to transparency about the speeds we offer.