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Warrington MP Asks £246K Compensation for Slow Residential Broadband

Monday, April 10th, 2017 (11:29 am) - Score 1,461

The MP for Warrington North (Cheshire, England), Helen Jones, has claimed that many residents in the area should be paid a total of £246,000 in compensation by ISPs because of the slow broadband speeds that local homes are alleged to endure. She wants Ofcom to take action.

According to the Warrington Guardian, local residents are owned the money because of “poor broadband speeds” and this apparently stems from an Ofcom report, which allegedly “revealed that a total of £246,000 in compensation to constituents” could be due and that’s partly because “the rolling out of fibre optic broadband in areas including Burtonwood, Winwick, Culcheth and Croft has been ‘slow’.”

Helen Jones, Warrington North MP, said:

“Discussions I have had with service providers over the years has resulted in some progress but the position is still far from satisfactory.

Less than half of all UK broadband connections are superfast, calling into question the government target to provide super-fast speeds to 95 per cent of all UK premises by the end of this year.

That is why I’m supporting the call by the [cross-party] British Infrastructure Group of MPs to introduce a comprehensive automatic compensation scheme that allows customers to be refunded for receiving unreasonably slow broadband download speeds.

Millions of properties across the country fail to meet the proposed minimum download speed of 10mb/s and could be eligible for receiving compensation from their providers.”

As usual there are a few problems with this claim and the approach being suggested. Firstly, the figure of £246K does not appear to come from Ofcom. Instead it looks more likely to be derived from either the MP or newspaper’s own interpretation of data from the regulator’s consultation on a new Automatic Compensation System (here), except that consultation was based on compensating for a total loss of service and not slow speeds.

Elsewhere Helen’s second paragraph makes the mistake of conflating the results from broadband speed testing with the separate aspect of network availability. Put another way, around 55% of the UK still connects via a slow pure copper based ADSL broadband line and that’s despite “superfast broadband” networks (e.g. FTTC / DOCSIS / FTTP etc.) being estimated to cover around 92% of the country.

The choice of connectivity solution that consumers make may thus have been overlooked or not given enough weight in the £246,000 figure above, although it’s difficult to know without further clarification of what that total truly represents and precisely where it comes from.

Mind you the idea of compensating for slow speeds isn’t entirely without merit, although in today’s market it would be very difficult to deliver. Identifying responsibility for slow broadband speeds, which can also be caused by things like weak WiFi, poor home wiring or even remote Internet services (plus a plethora of other factors that may be outside of an ISPs ability to control), is not a simple task.

On top of that the Government and local authorities would also need to take some responsibility for ensuring that everybody can actually access a truly superfast and reliable connection in the first place (particularly relevant for the final c.30% of UK premises where public investment is usually required to deliver an upgrade), which is yet to be achieved. Consumer prices would also need to rise in order to cover the costs of such a system.

It’s worth pointing out that Ofcom’s Code of Practice for Broadband Speeds, which is sadly voluntary and doesn’t apply to all providers, allows you to exit your contract penalty free if your service speeds suffer a significant decline.

Leave a Comment
49 Responses
  1. Avatar TheFacts says:

    Soundbite from someone with zero knowledge of the subject.

    1. Avatar wirelesspacman says:

      Yup, she should go far at Westminster! 🙂

    2. Avatar GNewton says:

      Despite her poor knowledge, it is clear from this experience that there are way too many frustrated users in the UK because of poor broadband services. There are multiple reasons for this. As long as the majority uses (or has to use) a DSL-based service the outcries from the public will continue. Successive governments have failed to introduce a proper broadband strategy.

    3. Avatar AndyH says:

      @ GNewton – Even if you had 100% FTTP coverage, do you seriously expect 100% take up? The UK has a higher average take up of super fast speeds compared to many other countries, even those with far more pure fibre deployment.

  2. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    You know from the reference to the so-called “British Infrastructure Group” that she isn’t well informed- no one that was would dream of engaging that group!

    Interesting to read of the slow broadband that her constituents are “enduring” when, according to TBB, 99.6% have access to fibre, 98% with download speeds of 98%+. So they are hardly poorly served! Perhaps she should campaign to improve take up of faster services as faster speeds are clearly available in Warrington North today.

    1. https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/broadband-map#12/53.4108/-2.5528/con/uso/openreach/virgin/

      Map of cable (indigo), VDSL2, green=superfast, yellow and red (sub 2 Mbps) then also the sub 10 Mbps postcodes in blue.

    2. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Quote “according to TBB, 99.6% have access to fibre, 98% with download speeds of 98%+” should have read “according to TBB, 99.6% have access to fibre, 98% with download speeds of 30Mbps+”.

  3. Avatar GNewton says:

    @New_Londoner: I seriously doubt that “according to TBB, 99.6% have access to fibre”. You are probably misreading the TBB maps here!

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      See for yourself – http://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/warrington-north,E14001017

      Only 0.77% of premises lack the ability to access to broadband with download speeds of < 10Mbps. This is probably one of the best served constituencies in the country!

    2. Avatar GNewton says:

      Thank you for the link.

      Just to clarify: Only 0.13% in the Warrington North has access to fibre. Though it has a good COAX cable coverage from VM of 73.65%.

    3. Avatar TheFacts says:

      @GN – Yawn!

      Fibre broadband is delivered via clusters of fibre optic cables (each one thinner than a human hair) and speeds are faster than ADSL.

      There are two types of superfast fibre broadband – ‘fibre-to-the-cabinet’ (FTTC) and ‘fibre-to-the-premises’ (FTTP).


    4. Avatar GNewton says:

      @TheFacts: Yawn! Look at New_Londoner’s link he kindly provided!

      BTW.: ASA has started a new investigation into this because:

      The UK Government’s recently published Digital Strategy made clear its commitment to invest in full-fibre broadband infrastructure, which is likely to make those services available to significantly more people, and also made clear its view that the term ‘fibre’ should only be used to describe full-fibre broadband services.

    5. Avatar TheFacts says:

      @GN – we all know about the use of the word ‘fibre’, there is no need to keep repeating it.

    6. Avatar GNewton says:

      @TheFacts: My reply was to New_Londoner who misread the fibre coverage. His link shows a coverage of 98.01% superfast speed (>30mbps), however most of it is VM COAX cable or VDSL. Even if you call the latter “fibre” (which it isn’t) it’s not a 99.6% coverage. You’d be struggling to find any area in the UK with such a high coverage percentage.

      The Warrington MP comes up with some wrong figures, too, especially not taking into account the real coverage figure of superfast which is usually higher than the actual takeup.

    7. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Actually TBB does show fibre broadband (FTTC, FTTN – cable and FTTP) being available to 99.6% of Warrington North residents. Use the link to the constituency stats provided earlier and then look at the graph displayed under the history tab, with 99.6% being the latest stat on fibre availability.

      Like I said, this constituency is very well served, the MP is very badly informed!

    8. Avatar Bob says:

      “Even if you call the latter “fibre” (which it isn’t)”

      VDSL has several miles if not tens of miles of fibre from the exchange with a last leg of on average 300 to 500m of copper.

      Cut it whatever way you want, try to play semantics all you want. The vast % (95%+) of the route to peoples houses from the exchange is freshly laid, shiny fibre.

      So yea, it is fibre.

  4. Avatar Sledgehammer says:

    @ New Londoner

    What everyone fails to understand BT/OR HAVE NOT PUT IN THE CAPACITY TO SUPPLY fttc SERVICES TO 99.6% OF THE UK. It is probably nearer 45%, so it will take another 10 years for the other 54.6% to catch up.

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Not sure of your sources? In any case, given current take up levels, why is this a problem at the moment?

    2. Avatar fastman says:

      sledgehammer no company ever assume 100% capacity — do your local authority build a motorway into a village just because at one point all 2000 of a village might want to leave it at the same time but actually normally only 100 do —

      its about availability

  5. Avatar Sledgehammer says:

    Common sense, don’t believe everything BT/OR say.

    1. Avatar TheFacts says:

      Prove it.

    2. Avatar TheFacts says:

      I am asking for proof about availability.

    3. Avatar AndyH says:

      GNewton – Give the trolling a rest.

    4. Avatar GNewton says:

      @AndyH: Are you in a grumpy mood again today!

  6. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    Just re-reading the quote, our illustrious but ill-informed MP appears to believe that anyone getting than 10Mbps download speed would be entitled to compensation under the proposed USO.

    Setting aside issue about the compensation culture that this engenders, I’m not sure that it even features as part of the proposed USO anyway? People seem to forget it is proposed as a right to request service from (currently unspecified) providers, not an automatic right to compensation from them!

    In any case, according to TBB only 0.77% of premises in Warrington North are unable to access broadband with download speeds of under 10Mbps. So it’s hardly a major problem for the MP.

  7. Avatar FibreFred says:

    Good luck Helen, this should give you a nice boost come polling day.

    Not that local elections are anything to do with this..

  8. Avatar bob says:

    So in summary, she gets availability confused with service, confuses infrastructure roll out with service measures, claims compensation should be made based on consultation proposals released just over a month ago, calcuates her own figures using flawed logic, doesn’t define what ‘slow’ means and fails to recognise her constituency is one of the best served for superfast BB in the country.

    Not the best example of British democracy in action.

  9. Avatar fastman says:

    also lets not forget significant development in that area where likey requirement by the developer was copper and not fibre

  10. Avatar Sledgehammer says:

    @ The Facts

    When more than 50% of people are still on ADSL or ADSL2+, the initial cards installed in FTTC is about enough for a 100 connections, some FTTC cabs are full to capacity and people are waiting for a second FTTC to connect the rest of the old cab, new FTTC cabs that are still waiting to be activated ( no power no fibre cable) and most of all reading between the lines of BT’s delays in providing activation when an exchange is fibre enabled in 2012, new FTTC installed Dec/Jan 2013/2014 and the said cab date for activation is put back from 31/03/2017 to 31/12/2017 that’s why everyone needs to think about just what BT are saying. Pure Facts no B/S.

    1. Avatar fastman says:

      sledgehammer this is I assume specific example that at are referring to — ie one circa 60,000 – 70,000 if not more fibre boxes enabled in the last 8 years

    2. Avatar TheFacts says:

      You clearly do not understand, do you seriously expect capacity for every property to be there. It’s about managing demand and providing availability.

      Do roads have capacity for every vehicle to be moving at the same time?

    3. Avatar bob says:

      Sledgehammer is spot on. In fact are you aware A&E service is only available to 0.007% of the country??

    4. Avatar TheFacts says:

      It’s not about installed capacity, it’s availability. Well understood by all in the industry and beyond.

  11. Avatar dragoneast says:

    Sorry folks but: when was it ever a requirement to become an MP that they ever understood anything? (Rather I think the reverse is the case, surely the role of an MP is to be party cannon fodder and vote as they’re told, hence whipping). Of course their other role is to be a whipping boy (or girl) for the rest of us, when we don’t get what we want. In either case, ignorance is a virtue. That’s the way most people in this country seem to look at it, anyway, in my experience.

    “I didn’t know” (or the other side of the coin “I was told”) or “nobody told me anything” is our excuse for everything. Nobody ever got anywhere by understanding anything, apparently.

    1. Avatar bob says:

      Whilst I agree MP should not and could not be experts on all subjects, surely an MP should not advote government confiscating money from private entities to distribute to others with no basis in law.

  12. Avatar Sledgehammer says:

    @ fastman

    “You clearly do not understand, do you seriously expect capacity for every property to be there.”

    What I expect is that when BT claim to be able to supply a FTTC connection to 90+% of the UK that they can actually do it. THEY CAN’T

    BT are doing what BT want to do, that is make as much profit as they can for the share holders, they are NOT interested in providing 90+% of the UK with FTTC. They will end up with a far lower % than that in the end.

    As far as MP’s go, they do utter the most amazing tripe most of the time.

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Quote “BT claim to be able to supply a FTTC connection to 90+% of the UK that they [sic] can actually do it”

      Out of interest, where does BT claim this?

    2. Avatar TheFacts says:

      If 90% of the UK wanted a FTTC connection from Openreach what makes you believe they would not provide it?

    3. Avatar MikeW says:

      Take Sledgehammers argument to the logical extreme…

      Sledgehammer. The man who believes that VM has enough capacity to sell a connection to every house in their served area, beyond the 20% they actually serve.

      The man who believes that Sky has enough DSLAM capacity to sell a connection to every house in their served area, beyond the 22% they actually serve.

      The man who believes that TT has enough DSLAM capacity to sell a connection to every house in their served area, beyond the 18% they actually serve.

      The man who believes that BT should have enough DSLAM capacity in the exchange to sell an ADSL connection to every house in the country, plus have enough DSLAM capacity in the FTTC cabinets to sell an FTTC connection to every house in the country.

      If we ignore every other ISP, Sledgehammer already thinks there should be 5 DSLAM ports (or the cable equivalent) for most properties in the country. Including the 17% who don’t have internet access in any form.

      That would be about 150 million ports, but 125 million would be sitting idle. I hope they don’t consume much power in standby mode.

      If he becomes Prime Minister, though, remind me to buy shares in Alcatel/Nokia, Huawei, etc.

  13. Avatar fastman says:

    sledgehammer they don’t is availability and that’s all it is its around those premises having ability to connect to a service — you choose whether you want to or not – to be clear sledgehammer I clearly understand significantly more on this that you assume

    do you think gigaclear in its BDUK bids has built capacity for everyone to be connected – of course they have not they we will be working on a % same as any one else an any one who thinks they will have done is crazy

  14. Avatar Sledgehammer says:

    The point I am trying to get across is those of us that would like to enjoy the benefits of BT’s FTTC can’t because there are no FTTC connections to be had. I was using the point that has been made that 90+% of the UK can have a FTTC implied by previous claims made by others.
    So the fact remains BT are not going to make a FTTC connection available to 90+% of the UK. I am of the opinion it is going to end up with BT only making available 60 to 70% coverage by FTTC and the hope that they would cover 90+% is now a myth ?

    1. Avatar TheFacts says:

      What does http://www.dslchecker.bt.com say for you?

      Just because some cabinets are full and not yet extended does not prove your claim. You are confused about actual availability.

    2. Avatar MikeW says:

      Coverage != Capacity.

      On the phone system, there might have been coverage for 100% of the country. But there wasn’t capacity for them all to make calls.

      Hell, there wasn’t enough capacity to give them all dialtone at the same time.

      It is an economic necessity to install equipment to match demand. As simple as that. To add extra tie pairs, linecards, PCP extensions, or new cabinets as necessary. Just in time, preferably.

      And upgrades happen at all those levels.

      If you wanted to mame the point about *your* cabinet falling foul, then fair enough. But the hyperbole of assuming that is true everywhere is just that – opinionated hype.

  15. Avatar Sledgehammer says:

    @ The Facts

    The BT dsl checker during March said Cab 38 in Wallasey was due to be activated on the 31st March. After getting a trench dug across a main road to connect old cab to new FTTC and installing a 140 pair cable between the cabs and only needed the fibre blowing through according to the OR engineer. The old cab is a 300 pair cab. The new FTTC capacity is 288 pair. The FTTC was installed 3 years and 3 months ago so BT has had no revenue for it at all. Now the activation date has been put back to 31/12/2017 which I have checked on a regular basis from the day it was installed.
    I hope this makes it clear as to my cynical view about BT’s FTTC roll out plan.

    1. Avatar MikeW says:


      It tells us you have a problem with 1 cab, and are trying to extrapolate to 80,000.

      Not the best use of statistics I’ve seen.

    2. Avatar TheFacts says:

      Is VM available?

  16. Avatar Sledgehammer says:

    BT Top 9.27 Mill UK Broadband Users as Openreach Connect 7.17 Mill to Fibre
    Posted Friday, January 27th, 2017 (7:50 am) by Mark Jackson (Score 1,236)

    Maybe this will help

    1. Avatar TheFacts says:

      Help how?

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