UK 'worst for broadband throttling in Europe'Throttling worse than France and Germany

16 November 2011

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Tests suggest that the UK's ISPs are the worst offenders in Europe when it comes to 'throttling' broadband connections, the New York Times has reported.

Broadband speeds on BT connections appeared to be throttled in 74% of the tests carried out using a tool, called Glasnost, developed by the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

Internet connection speeds are often intentionally slowed-down in order to provide a more reliable service. However these tests suggest that speeds are inhibited to a greater extent in the UK than in many other countries.

How does the UK compare globally?

Speeds appeared to be restricted in 32% of the tests made globally, while 23% of the tests made on US networks were reported as being intentionally impaired. Internet providers in Germany were among those who appear to be less likely to hinder speeds, with 16% of tests showing signs of throttling.

Dr Rob Reid, scientific policy advisor at Which?, said: 'If these figures are correct they highlight a common industry practice that has a significantly negative impact on the quality of service that consumers sign up for. ISPs must be much more transparent about how they are managing traffic on their networks. They must provide clear consumer information on traffic management at the point of sale so consumers can make informed choices about the service they choose.'

The report claims that BT isn't the only offender in the UK and that tests for throttling also exceeded 50% for other British operators, including Virgin Media (identified as NTL/Telewest) and TalkTalk (as Opal Telecom, Pipex and Tiscali).

BT's response

BT contacted Which? to provide the following statement: 'BT is transparent about slowing down peer-2-peer traffic at peak times to ensure all customers receive a good online experience. This ensures that customers streaming video and browsing web pages are able to enjoy prompt delivery of their real-time demands. BT’s Fair Usage Policy, which is one of the most liberal among major ISPs, is available to customers on BT's website. The reported Glasnost data refers to defunct operators, such as NTL and Telewest, who became Virgin Media in 2006, and also Tiscali, who’s UK business became part of TalkTalk in 2009, which raises a question mark about the quality of the research.'

The Max Planck Institute, however, told PC Pro that while the old ISPs names are listed it 'does not have any implication on the date of the results, which were all gathered in 2011.'

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