ISP reporting network to pierce bandwidth smokescreens
Your broadband needs you
ISP watchers have launched a bid to get to the bottom of what's going on with UK broadband by recruiting people to install specially-adapted network gear on their line, to collect reams of independent performance data.
The initiative to improve the transparency of ISP packages is being led by Samknows.com. The site is aiming to attract 200 volunteers who'll be sent a free tweaked Linksys router that will measure and report download speeds for HTTP and non-HTTP traffic, latency, packet loss, DNS response, and website loading times.
It comes as consumer anger against ISPs over tricksy marketing campaigns, opaque traffic management policies and low investment in infrastrucure continues to ferment.
Software based speed testers are already widely available, but it's hoped that a single, controllable and statistically sampled network will act as a high quality reference dataset. A hardware system allows for numerous other checks as well as 24-hour reporting.
It's hoped that the system will reveal exactly who is shaping what traffic, when and how. More data is needed to confirm the patterns, but very early data from a very small sample we've seen suggests some of the UK's largest ISPs might face some uncomfortable questions.
Sam Crawford, the man behind Samknows.com, said: "Is it right for us to expect a free broadband connection to perform as well as a £25 per month one?
"That's just the problem. We simply do not know how well one performs with respect to the other. All we have is anecdotal evidence from consumers, combined with some speed tester results. These have their place, granted, but it's hardly the basis to make informed statistical comparisons."
He promised that it was not part of a plan to launch yet another commercial broadband comparison site. Such operations make their money by referring users the providers they recommend. The boxes are being funded by Samknows.com's main business to business data operations and an investment from LX Capital Ltd.
There's a stack more info in the Samknows FAQ here. The ambition is to eventually have several thousand boxes reporting the state of the UK's broadband networks. ®
Must be a long time since you did figures in the Cable Industry. 6 months payback. No chance.
I think you'll find the new build cable laying stopped pretty much the same time as the cable companies went bust paying for it due to the long payback periods.
Little known fact, BT are chancing their arms with the £125 install for moving home. I moved recently and BT tried this with me, I kicked up a stink and the fee suddenly changed to half price, I then told them the gf works for bt in the home movers department (which is a lie she works in the business number port team!) and that she trold me the home move does not have a charge. It was dropped after a few days, by then I had gone to cable out of sheer frustration. But it seems BT are just chancing their arms, the fee can and should be waived. I suppose you have already paid it though which is a shame.
@ Andy ORourke
The cable company (there used to be loads, now it is pretty much just Virgin Media) hasn't done any cabling of any significance in the last ten years.
When franchises were granted, they came with cabling targets - 'w% within x years, and y% after z years' or something along those lines.
Even in the inner city franchises, neither 'w' or 'x' is 100%. Almost all cabling out stopped as soon as the franchise agreement figures were hit, even though the payback could be in as little as six months for a combined cable TV/telephone installation. I've lived in two 'new built' estates put up since 1999, typical cable fodder where one in three households could have been expected to sign up, so investment returned inside two years. Still no sign of getting cabled though. Eight years of profits lost. Ironically we get leafletted at least once a year to sign up for cable!!!
Paris, because even she can do the figure work and decide it makes sense to cable out...