Feeds

ISPs should get 'up to' full fee for 'up to' broadband

Wispa's campaign against Ofcom turns shouty

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Anyone promised broadband speeds of "up to" an amount should be free to pay a monthly fee of "up to" what's asked, according to the firebrand lobbying consultancy wispa Limited.

It's not the first time wispa has riled against Ofcom, but this time its campaign has caught the imagination by asking people to tell the regulator they're unhappy paying a fixed rate for a service which is only offered "up to" a specific speed, though what the alternative might be remains unclear.

The consultancy explains:

If your supermarket charged you full price for ‘upto’ a kg of sugar, or the service station charged you full price for ‘upto’ a gallon of petrol, they would be prosecuted.

Wispa punches above its five-man weight by laying into Ofcom at every opportunity, in this instance, urging readers to sign the form letter telling Ofcom how they feel.

The arguments about how broadband is advertised have been going on almost as long as there's been broadband, and both fixed and mobile companies have been caught advertising what's possible rather than what actually gets delivered. In recent years Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority have come a long way in enforcing realistic advertising, and monitoring what gets delivered – but not far enough, according to wispa.

Much of the industry now holds that "up to" is the only way one can effectively advertise broadband, given the congested nature of the internet and the technical limits of the medium, but wispa is calling for more transparency in the selling process:

It is inappropriate [for the ISP] to point at an infrastructure and say 'we'll give you what you can' if the expectation of the consumer is that they will have to pay regardless ... If an ISP is unable to deliver the upto speed in a particular area, they will know that prior to the service going live. The consumer on the other hand often finds out after they have committed to a 12-18mth contract.

If the disparity is big, then said consumer would probably be able to get out of the contract, but wispa argues that even if accurate estimates are provided the advertised "up to" speed is the lie which lures punters in the door.

So what is the solution?

"The removal of Ofcom as the regulator of this space, to be replaced by an organisation or body who will actually look at these issues that truly effect consumers and the industry," is what wispa is hoping to see, though that seems and unlikely response to an online petition, so we thought we'd see if anyone out there has an alternative suggestion.

Which leads to our question of the week: would you sign up with an ISP which bills you on the basis of your connection speed that month? And to where would the connection speed be measured (to the exchange, or perhaps one of the speedtest.net servers)? Or perhaps it's too late and we're all so used to the lies that anyone telling the truth would just lead to confusion. Let us know what you think in our shiny new forums. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Turnbull: NBN won't turn your town into Silicon Valley
'People have been brainwashed to believe that their world will be changed forever if they get FTTP'
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.