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Speed Tested – BT’s Free “up to 1Gbps” London Wi-Fi InLinkUK Kiosks

Friday, August 11th, 2017 (3:59 pm) by Mark Jackson (Score 1,224)
bt linkuk london uk Gigabit free wifi kiosk

Five of BT’s new InLinkUK kiosks in London have just been tested to see if they’re able to deliver WiFi speeds of close to the advertised “up to 1Gbps” capability. Sadly the average speed after 43 tests was 47.4Mbps download and 44Mbps upload, with a standard download deviation of 19.5Mbps.

In fairness the testing, which was conducted by Thinkbroadband, only used an iPhone 6 Plus (additionally a Mac Book Air was tried at one location) and we know from our own experience that the 802.11ac wireless chip inside the iPhone can struggle to reach around +/-300Mbps, often even when sitting almost right on top of a Gigabit WiFi capable router. However lots of factors can impact WiFi performance.

Nevertheless we’ve long assumed that the claimed speed of “up to 1Gbps” on BT’s kiosks was likely to reflect shared capacity (i.e. many users sucking from the same supply), although we still share TBB’s disappointment at not being able to reach into “ultrafast” (100Mbps+) territory. Sadly TBB doesn’t provide much information about the distance of each test and the testing itself only took place between 2-5pm, which could impact the results (London is a busy place during the early afternoon).

Apparently the fastest recorded test delivered 93Mbps download and 57Mbps upload (we’ll assume this was recorded while standing right next to the kiosk), which is still very good compared to the dire state of most free public WiFi networks and in fact many fixed line broadband services. TBB also noted that the signal held fairly stable up to around 100 metres, where performance fell away into the land of single digits.

On top of that there’s likely to be a degree of congestion in the airways around busy cities like London, which could also be impacting the top level of performance.

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18 Responses
  1. Alan

    Not up to the claims from BT then. HOWEVER before BTs merry men respond it performed better than i thought it would when it comes to upload rates, those rates are quite impressive for the type of service.

  2. Raymond Woodward

    Ah, BT finally join Virgin in the definition of “Up to” .. 🙂

    Oh well, I suppose it will keep the southerners happy.

  3. Dave Hastings

    Gigabit indeed.

  4. Chris P

    Probably reflective of most families speed test at home. Interference from neighbours wifi / microwave, someone downloading a box set on sky while someone else is streaming iplayer and someone else on Netflix all contributing to the less than advertised rate as seen in a speed test conducted over wifi with a device not capable of achieving the download rate of the wan connection.

    • Alan

      Would need to be a heck of a lot of people on Netflix and iplayer for them to only get 47Mb average in their testing out of a 1Gb connection.

      Iplayer HD streams at something like 3Mb and Netflix UHD is something like 25Mb. A total of less than 30Mb, so it would need around 31 or 32 people to be doing that at the same time to use 950Mb and leave them with 47Mb for their connection tests.

    • MikeW

      Isn’t the gigabit really only available to users with MCS 9 modulation, alongside lots of antenna and spatial streams?

      Sharing with other devices means the biggest limitations come from the distant devices on lesser modulations, even if your own device is close. One client at the range limit, with MCS 0 modulation, will consume a disproportionate amount of the transmitter’s time to get its bits through.

      A handful of such devices will restrict the total bandwidth to less than a tenth of the best-possible. And the best throughput will be perhaps half of the raw bitrate anyway.

      Then the iPhone 6plus only employs a single spatial stream. Another limitation.

      I’m also not convinced that plain WiFi manages to share the bandwidth well when many devices are present: the Fixed Wireless vendors usually have their own implementations for allocating timeslots fairly.

      Surely it would be good to get some baseline figures in the dead of night, when no-one else is likely to be using the kiosks.

    • Alan

      All irrelevant as Andrew states below in other testing he has seen.. “we do see iPhones and other phones getting into the 200 to 300 Mbps region” If it can do it elsewhere it should of managed it here.

    • MikeW

      If you’re not in control of the test environment, then it is entirely relevant.

      Otherwise you have no idea whether you are comparing apples with elephants.

      Maybe Andrew should test at 4am for a few nights running.

    • Ultraspeedy

      What makes you think he was in control of the environment when the iphone saw higher speeds in other testing?

      Testing at 4am likewise would not be a realistic test and it definitely then would not be apples to apples unless you are claiming he tested other services at 4am.

      Any comment on why it only works for around 100 Metres range wise when cheap 50p electronics like a homehub apparently do 200+ Metres range wise…. According to BT anyway.

      Perhaps they should of dangled Andrew from a helicopter above the inlink kiosk to make it a fair and accurate test eh???

  5. Tim

    Hmm

    They really needed to state the WiFi standard (g/a/n/ac), connection speed and distance for each test.

    Those speeds could have easily been a 2.4Ghz 802.11n AP on a 40Mhz channel. If they were on a 5Ghz 802.11ac AP with a 80Mhz channel then I’d expect a lot better results.

    • Alan

      Both devices mentioned are AC wifi devices

    • And both those devices have been used before and getting much faster speeds over Wi-Fi in some other locations, e.g. London Underground Wi-Fi.

      As for distance fastest speeds were generally within 10 feet, and did tests across the road and as mentioned up to 100 metres away in Camden i.e. plenty of people about so good real world test scenario.

      In the much wider consumer tests we do see iPhones and other phones getting into the 200 to 300 Mbps region, just look at thinkbroadband twitter which posts fastest tablet/mobile speeds each month.

    • Ultraspeedy

      “Thats 200 Metres, have you got Wifi”……… No because it performs worse than a BT hub. According to BTs banned nonsense anyway. hehe

  6. Optimist

    Broadband customers will enjoy advertised speeds 24/7 when vehicles reach 70mph along the M25 24/7.

  7. Simon

    Can I test it for you? The Xperia Premium can do 1Gbps

    Let me know.

  8. Walter G M Willcox

    Meanwhile in a tiny village in the Yorkshire Dales National Park they get a ping of 3 ms, Download 107.17 Mbps and Upload 115.80 Mbps on an an iPhone inside the hotel.

    https://b4rn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Fastest-Hotel-Broadband-in-the-Uk.pdf

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