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AAISP Pokes Fun at Sky Broadband’s 55Mbps “Minimum Speed Guarantee”

Monday, September 18th, 2017 (9:54 am) - Score 3,526

Internet provider Andrews & Arnold (AAISP) has attempted to spoof modern advertising practices and Sky Broadband’s recent offer of a 55Mbps “Minimum Speed Guarantee” by proposing to go one further with a 56Mbps guarantee. Naturally they’re quick to explain the caveats.

Last month Sky added a 55Mbps guarantee to their FTTC (VDSL2) based ‘up to’ 76Mbps Sky Fibre Max package (here), although it wasn’t the same sort of bandwidth guarantee as we’re used to seeing from business ISPs. Instead customers who failed to receive at least 55Mbps from Sky Fibre Max (within the first 30 days of service) were offered the option of either claiming back their costs and cancelling, or being moved to Sky’s slightly cheaper ‘up to’ 52Mbps Sky Fibre Unlimited Plus tier (i.e. downgrading from an 80Mbps to 55Mbps FTTC profile).

The speed of a hybrid fibre optic technology like FTTC (VDSL2) depends primarily on your location (e.g. length of the copper line from your local street cabinet) and the quality of that line. Related VDSL2 lines usually deliver anything from a minimum of around 2Mbps (sub-2Mbps is usually considered a fault) and up to 80Mbps.

However Sky’s approach is simply not to sell you the Max package if you can’t achieve a stated minimum speed, which is a clever bit of marketing but one that isn’t a true bandwidth guarantee in the more traditional sense. Naturally AAISP has figured out that they can have a bit of fun with this by proposing a 56Mbps guarantee.

AAISP’s Proposed 56Mbps Guarantee

One metric which people do focus on is speed as measured at the modem/hub (the sync speed), and this is what this other ISP are prepared to guarantee. Speed to specific parts of the internet may be lower as is speed when sharing with other users in your premises, as is speed using wifi and certain slower devices.

The problem with focusing on the speed at the modem is that this depends on the technology and wires involved. So for VDSL, as provided via Openreach cabinets and wires, the sync speed you get is the sync speed you get regardless of which ISP you choose (providing they can access Openreach VDSL services).

The ISPs do have options such as capping at 40, 55 or 80Mb/s, but assuming you are happy to pay for the package that gives the speed you can get, then the speed at the modem is the same for all of the ISPs using that same technology and access. An ISP that offers to guarantee 55Mbs does not actually offer you higher speed than one that does not, on the same technology.

So how do they manage to offer 55Mb minimum? Well, the same way we could offer a 56Mb minimum!

If the address check for your line shows you can get VDSL/FTTC, and has a Downstream Handback Threshold (Mpbs) of at least 56Mb/s, then we are happy to guarantee you will get 56Mb/s at the modem. If such a line does not manage that speed, once the line is stable after 10 days, and within 30 days, and you ask us, we will back out the install and refund the costs. If your address does not have that handback threshold, then sorry, this guaranteed minimum 56Mb service is not available to you. Simple.

If later the speed drops to below the guaranteed minimum, we are happy to move you to one of our other services which don’t guarantee a minimum speed (which in our case cost the same).

This is the same as the guarantee that other ISP offers, as far as we can see, except we picked 56Mb not 55Mb as the level to which we will apply the offer. In practice we can do the same for any level.

At this point AAISP admits that they’re “not really serious” about offering a special guaranteed 56Mbs minimum and are merely having a bit of fun spoofing another ISP’s advertising approach, which helps to highlight a general problem with such promotions.

We can pick any speed you like and make the same guarantee … what we would like to see is more honest marketing in the first place. This latest move seems to stem from some suggestions by the likes of Advertising Standards, and really does not help people compare ISPs, as you can see,” said the provider.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. gerarda says:

    Sky’s policy is really a nonsense. They refused to supply me with an up to 80Mbps service as the DSL checker was promising only 53Mbps. Shortly after I signed up with another ISP an engineer did some tweaks to the cabinet and I am now getting 72Mbps. So having refused to supply me because it would lower their average speed it would now be increasing it.

    1. comnut says:

      gerarda:so are you still with ‘another ISP’ ?? and are your figures just from a ‘speedtest’ site, or *actual* download speed?? please supply download URL, however vague! 🙂

  2. Matt B says:

    Poking fun? More like making themselves look petulant and re-affirms their “small player” status.

    Forward looking companies concentrate on their products and talk to their customers, not waste their time talking about the competition.

    So what if the Sky speed promise is pointless? It conveys a point and it’s clever marketing.

    1. Bill says:

      I agree with you, it seemed rather childish to me.

    2. CarlT says:

      Agreed, forward looking companies concentrate on their products, rather than clever yet pointless marketing.

      When Sky start getting serious with FTTP, they considered it but then sold their interest in the joint venture to TalkTalk, G.fast, they haven’t participated in the pilots, and stop doing everything in their power to keep as many customers as possible on ADSL I will start considering them a forward-looking company in this field.

  3. paul says:

    you need to stop kissing aaisp ass they get more mention here for pointless stuff

    1. Jack says:

      I agree this is becoming a regular thing and for some reason is homed in on AA. It’s a big industry as you know and I don’t understand why they keep being mentioned.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      In case it wasn’t already blazingly obvious. You’re on a website that is dedicated towards covering a wide spectrum of ISPs and related consumer issues, which has long prided itself on championing smaller providers. ISPreview has been run this way for nearly 19 years and as I always say, if you don’t like it then don’t visit.

      AAISP gets coverage because they’re one of the very few providers that aren’t afraid to speak openly about often complicated internal industry and consumer issues, which is something that a normal consumer should be very thankful for (most ISPs prefer to stay silent). Typically we sometimes live in a wonky society that calls for more openness and honesty, but then chastises those who deliver.

      However your comments carry a touch of the bizarre trolling about them because this year we’ve only written stories specifically about AAISP a grand total of just 4 times 🙂 .


    3. Web Dude says:

      I only spotted 3 mentions when I looked yesterday, but may have missed an entry showing 2017…

      However, the 3 I saw were all from the end of August and into September, so some could be forgiven if they saw 3 news items in fairly close succession.

      Must admit I catch up on an infrequent basis so had not seen all three articles until yesterday.

  4. Ultraspeedy says:

    Pretty poor of AAISP for a few reasons. If Skys guarantee is basically what they claim meaningless then why do they not seriously match it rather than poke fun?

    As to the how, why and Handback Thresholds, i doubt the average Joe cares about how or why their line will get a minimum speed of xxMbps.

    I fully comprehend the points AAISP are trying to make, and understand about minimum, maximum and handback speed but if i were picking between 2 providers which are entirely equal (eg price, service, reliability etc) in every way except one would guarantee my handback threshold speed and the other would not, id still sooner take the ISP which offered a guarantee of a particular speed.

    Also does this now mean that AAISP do not consider anything to be a fault unless your speed is below your download threshold?

    In fact is there any speed AAISP consider a fault or like most do they look at a persons speed, look at the estimates and if its within a certain amount say that will do and tell the customer there is no fault?

    I personally from AAISP would expect better than this. I agree with Matt B, Bill and Paul, just an example of them being childish and also seems to be a pointless news item. There is enough pointless BT crud with mythological tech and speed that they will never deliver we have to wade through or stuff that is 5-10 years of which 10 years down the line plans will likely change again. We do not need in addition a bunch of stories about ISP (A) ranting about ISP (B’s) speeds also. It lowers the quality of the actual “news” and makes the site look like a relative to the Daily Mail or Sun.

    1. Jack says:

      Mark Jackson – regardless of the 19 years you mention I still expect better articles than homing in on someone because they go 1Mb above their competitors speed aim, absolutely pointless. In regards to the visits to the site they are already much lower because it’s going down the pan, especially the flawed review system you have that encourages fake reviews. So when you say “Typically we sometimes live in a wonky society that calls for more openness and honesty” you should maybe look how transparent those “legitimate” reviews are.

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