My ADSL speed creeps upward, almost at 2005 levels now

· by Steve · Read in about 3 min · (610 Words)

I’ve often bitched about my connection to the intertubes being pretty slow compared to what is generally expected in the current times. As average download speeds have increased, I’ve found myself going to sites that assume faster download speeds than I have, and thus having to pause & come back to videos when they’ve buffered more to avoid an irritating stop-start experience (note to flash players that only allow buffering of a little bit of a video - shame on you). I jumped on the broadband wagon in 2001 at a downstream speed of 512k/s, and until now, in the intervening 6 and a bit years, the speed has only increased once to 1M/s. That’s pretty piss-poor, but the reality is that we’re an island, and even though we’ve been getting increased capacity via fibre-optic cable links to Europe, our shores are clogged with offshore finance businesses and gambling websites from other juristictions (hosted here for regulatory reasons) who are quite willing to soak up all this extra bandwidth through dedicated circuits at incredibly inflated prices, so the average consumer has been mostly forgotten.

Well, we’ve been tossed a bone finally and my downstream speed has now increased to 2M/s (unlimited), which is certainly welcome, but incredibly late and still below par considering I pay £22 per month for it - in comparison in the UK O2 will do 16M/s (unlimited) for £15pm. A quick test at (off-peak) indeed reported a decent performance, slightly off the max reported by my router:

I’m not sure why it thinks my ISP is in Slough, but there you go. The important fact, something I’ve banged on about for some time to our intransigent infrastructure supplier (Cable & Wireless, now rebranded as ‘Sure’ locally, which ironically is my exact response whenever their PR dept claims they’re building a ‘world class telecoms system’), is that we’re still running at about half the average speed of the UK and Europe, which is still pitiful. Yeah, I know there’s the island aspect, but that cuts both ways - the cables never have far to go here, certainly compared to the UK/Europe averages which include distant rural areas - even my parents can get up to 6.5M/s where they live, and they’re in a tiny village in rural Cornwall.  Plus, there’s also a captive market locally sloshing with shedloads of money from rich finance houses and related high-value services, which can easily fund investment - if there’s one place you could build a modern telecommunications infrastructure, it’s somewhere like this. But, they either can’t, or they’re not interested in doing so (for consumers), given that they can make their sackfuls of money from business links, and consumer services are small beer. That’s also why it’s almost impossible to rent a server cost-effectively over here, they’re only interested in (gambling) companies that will rent several racks at a time, small customers are irrelevant to them. Luckily that market is global - I can host pretty much anywhere and get a deal 10x better than I can locally - but when it comes to my local internet connection, I’m stuck with what we have.

I’m holding out for one of the competitors to put up a few high-speed wireless transmitters covering the whole island (not that difficult), using the bandwidth from the extra optical cable they’ve brought ashore in recent weeks, and completely bypass the physical cabling system that ‘Sure’ controls - maybe that will finally shake them out of their torpor and make them appreciate the consumer market again. But, my cynical mind thinks it’s more likely they’ll also chase the business customers first anyway since it has a greater return. Hmm.