Wholesale connectivity provider Entanet has called on Which? to ‘get real’ over the issue of broadband speed advertising in the latest posting on its opinion blog site.
Earlier this week Which? called for more stringent guarantees on the advertising of broadband speeds and how quickly issues are fixed. In response, Entanet Product Manager Paul Heritage-Redpath points out that, whilst its intentions may be worthy, Which? has once again demonstrated its failure to understand the complexity of this issue and the way in which the multi-tier structure of the broadband delivery market works.
On the subject of fault resolution, he points out that most issues originate on BT’s network, which is managed and maintained by Openreach and are beyond the control of ISPs who have (with some specific exceptions) no direct access to the network and can do little to speed up fault resolutions.
Heritage-Redpath also notes that it is extremely difficult for any ISP to ‘guarantee’ broadband speeds, due to a multiplicity of factors, and that the new rules Which? is calling for that would require speeds to be based on at least 51percent of the ISPs customer base would put smaller ISPs at a further disadvantage. That would ultimately result in consumers having less choice – and may even lead to some ISPs refusing to supply customers in areas where speeds will always be lower.
In the article he states: “We agree that all ISP websites should have accurate and justified headline speed claims but toughening advertising guidelines and forcing ISPs to provide inaccurate guarantees is not the best approach. If anything, such actions would lead to ISPs being more ‘choosey’ about the customers they take on (avoiding lower speed customers as they may affect their statistics) and could cause price hikes to cover potential ‘guarantee compensations’.”
A better approach, he argues, would be to ensure customers are more aware and informed of the variations that can occur in broadband services, all of which are contended (or shared) and can therefore never provide guaranteed throughput.
“Surely it would be more beneficial to educate customers to the fact that it is just an ‘estimate’ and that a guarantee would not be accurate and is therefore not provided. If guaranteed speed is critical to a customer then perhaps they need to consider other types of connectivity such as Ethernet – although these are more expensive and therefore usually only used by business customers.”