ISPreview - Broadband Congestion (Slow Speeds)
Broadband Congestion (Slow Speeds)
By: Mark Jackson - May 8th 2007 : Page 1 -of- 5
"Today the market is awash with packages offering ever higher speeds for increasingly low prices"

That damned movie trailer, you clicked the website link to start playing it over ten minutes ago and it’s barely managed to buffer 30% of video. Fair enough, it’s 40MB in size, but five minutes!? It should start within seconds and no matter which download server you choose it’s the same, but that’s not all. Websites are no longer as snappy as they use to be, file downloads take longer and even collecting e-mail has become an increasingly time consuming process.

Where did it all go wrong? Things use to be fine, you might have even upgraded your connection to something faster and yet now the opposite is true. Sadly if this story bares even a slight resemblance to your current level of service then you too could be suffering as a result of broadband congestion.


In the beginning most broadband connections, especially those based off ADSL, were designed around a standard and somewhat inflexible pricing model. This made it difficult for ISP’s to offer packages tailored to different needs because the overall wholesale rental consistently remained high. Back then the notion of any broadband package costing under £20 per month would have been almost inconceivable.

With time suppliers introduced greater flexibility, culminating in the introduction of BT’s Capacity Based Charging (CBC) model and ‘up to’ 8Mbps ‘MAX’ ADSL products. This allowed for lower monthly rentals, albeit at the expensive of having to pay extra for bandwidth.

Today the market is awash with packages offering ever higher speeds for increasingly low prices, a trend that has had many positive impacts, not least the introduction of super-cheap ‘budget’ and bundled broadband products. Unfortunately there is a negative side.

The Examination

Consumers most commonly have one of two perceptions when signing up to a broadband service offering speeds over 2Mbps, these are:

  1. That they will get the headline speed advertised.
  2. That they will get the best speed their line can handle.

The first one is almost always wrong and in an ideal world no.2 would be correct, yet a growing number of people are finding that broadband speeds have steadily been falling below their lines capability. Part of the reason for this is to do with contention, something most users have never had to grapple with, until now.

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