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ISP Plusnet Reveals New Average Advertised Broadband Speeds

Saturday, May 19th, 2018 (7:45 am) - Score 5,779

Low cost UK ISP Plusnet and partner John Lewis have joined several other providers by revealing what their average advertised broadband download speeds will become when the new guidelines are adopted next Wednesday. They’ll also be the first to include an average for upload speed (well done).

At present broadband ISPs promote headline speeds using the “up to” prefix, which requires that advertised speeds should be achievable by at least 10% of their customers (i.e. the fastest 10% on a specific connection). This only applies to generally advertised speeds (i.e. those shown to everybody on a public website or in print) and is separate from the personal estimate that many fixed line providers offer after you start the order process.

However, the above rule is due to end on 23rd May 2018, when the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) adopts a new guideline that effectively requires all providers to start promoting “average speeds“. This reflects a median speed measured at peak time (8pm to 10pm) on their packages (here).

So far a handful of ISPs have already begun promoting the new average (Sky Broadband, Utility Warehouse and the Post Office etc.) and we expect all of the other mainstream ISPs to follow suit next week. Either that or they’ll adopt the even more confusing tactic of simply not bothering to display any speeds, which makes it more difficult for all except techys to tell the difference between products.

Today we can add Plusnet and John Lewis to the above list, although their new rates won’t be going live until next week. As you’d expect their speeds aren’t too different from the others but they do also show upload averages on their FTTC packages, which the others don’t.

PlusNet / JohnLewis Advertised Speed Change

Unlimited Broadband (ADSL2+)
OLD SPEED: ‘up to’ 17Mbps Download

NEW SPEED: 10Mbps Average Download

Unlimited Fibre (FTTC / VDSL2)
OLD SPEED: ‘up to’ 38Mbps Download / 9.5Mbps Upload

NEW SPEED: 36Mbps Average Download / 9Mbps Average Upload

Unlimited Fibre Extra (FTTC / VDSL2)
OLD SPEED: ‘up to’ 76Mbps Download / 19Mbps Upload

NEW SPEED: 66Mbps Average Download / 18Mbps Average Upload

On our own ISP Listings we will continue to show the old and new speeds side-by-side until such time as the industry has completely swapped. Many smaller and alternative network providers tend to drag their feet over such things.

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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.
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20 Responses
  1. AnotherTim says:

    Any idea why they don’t give an average upload for ADSL2+? Is it simply because it would be embarrassingly low?
    Another question – as ADSL Max tends to be sold in the same package as ADSL2+, the advertised average will be well above the theoretical maximum, which doesn’t really make things clearer in that (minority) case.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Strictly speaking the ASA doesn’t require ISPs to give an average for upload speeds and it’s unlikely to be much different than the ‘up to’ figure on ADSL.

      ADSLMax is so tiny these days as to be largely irrelevant.

    2. MikeW says:

      I imagine that some of the reasoning comes from the fact that ADSL2+ upload speeds don’t vary much with distance. Not nearly as much as FTTC upload speeds do.

      I also suspect that Plusnet’s decision to mention upload speeds for FTTC is because upstream speed is a positive selling point in the battle against cable, for subscribers who have already chosen to go “fibre”. ADSL2+ products aren’t part of that battle.

    3. Web Dude says:

      In addition to MikeW’s comment “upstream speed is a positive selling point”, it wasn’t really that long ago when Plus.Net was only offering “up to 2 Mbps” for upload on their “up to 38 Mbps” service… I was watching it with some interest and it had been enough to put me off buying from them.

      (I use torrent software to share Linux distributions, and upload speed has often been undisclosed by ISPs, unless they are offering “something to shout about” !)

  2. Stephen Wakeman says:

    Does the ASA specify how the ISP has to go about coming up with the average? Before I imagine they could speed test cherry picked customers.

    If it’s now indicative of a global customer wide median then I imagine the samples have widened massively so as to include equally the geographical spread of customers?

    This will be interesting applied to VM whose sales strategy doesn’t involve limiting uptake to keep contention in check. And whose services seem liable to being oversubscribed. As in people on 300Mb packages getting under a Meg in the peak times. I’d love to see their headline speeds get utterly crushed by this.

    1. MikeW says:

      TBB has an article with median speeds for the VM speed tiers.

    2. CarlT says:

      I’m afraid VM’s averages are going to be very disappointing for you if you were hoping for them to tank.

      They’ve been ‘limiting uptake’ for nearly a year now.

    3. Alan says:

      Im not sure if VM are affected by this at all, pretty sure i read somewhere FTTH/P and cable/DOCSIS would be exempt or have different rules. That i admit may have been in the early days of hashing the new guidelines out. Either way VM have little to worry about with the majority of its packages crushing FTTC average speeds.

    4. Andrew Ferguson says:

      VM is affected

      But due to quirks with what they’ve done in the last year, the old 10% figures are going to be lower than the 50% figures, i.e. Virgin looks set to increase

    5. Alan says:

      Yep I was not sure where i had read about VM and FTTH/P being subject to different rules. I have been reading older news items back on here and now can not find anything relating to what i thought i had read. *shrugs* No idea where i read it now, or if mind is/was playing tricks.

      On a separate not anyone have further info on what IDNET mentions here about one month contracts…

      Is that some other new rule that came in or was that just IDNET promoting a service they had/have coming.

  3. Meadmodj says:

    I think this may actually confuse customers even more and cause even more disgruntled calls as the maximum achievable speeds on users lines may be fall below their stated average. Upto infers an expectation that may not be met but Average infers an anticipated experience.

    1. Meadmodj says:

      Looking at the BT site it appears to know exactly the speed I and my neighbours are actually achieving. Whereas Plusnet simply states that my line will support between 29 to 40Mbs and offers Unlimited Fibre at Upto 38Mbs based on Post Code.

      There are 20 houses in our street, I’m No. 2 so I should be the fastest but I get 41Mbs but other neighbours who are or have been on OR appear to be able to get (using BT site) between 46Mbs and 48Mbps (various ISPs detected by Router names). There are three houses opposite with odd numbers and they are reported by BT as only being able to get 20Mbs. There can only be a yard or two difference between me at No. 2 and opposite No. 1 from the cabinet. So is BT defaulting to 20Mbs on properties that have always been on Virgin Media?

      By only offering upto 38Mbs then Plusnet are very safe and are likely to achieve their Average stated. Interestingly they do not offer a faster product but BT currently does.

      All this prompts the question of what data are ISPs using to to determine achievable speeds on a Post Code, how are they determining what products to offer and how are they going to calculate these averages. If my street is typical it seems to me that Plusnet have chosen to be conservative on the availability of their products but to use optimistic Averages for the purposes of advertising.

  4. John says:

    I’d rather they simply convert us to FTTP and do away with FTTC altogether! Even new builds in our area are still FTTC!

    1. Meadmodj says:

      Unfortunately that should have been the decision before FTTC. Now we have it most of us will be on FTTC or VM VIVID for the foreseeable future. Any FTTP in urban areas will be focused and demand led as any provider including the Altnets cannot afford to have dormant assets.
      As for new builds some developers are still not aware or have not considered the benefit of a full fibre specification. Currently it is easier to take the standard BT contribution (agreed by NRHB) to provide telephony which is the universal obligation. The Builder then puts in the BT infrastructure and copper is laid to the premises. Openreach and other providers do provide full fibre options for developers if they wanted one. Openreach actually will deploy FTTP, free of charge, into all new housing developments of 30 or more homes.

    2. Meadmodj says:


  5. The Archbishop says:

    This is now getting really confusing!

    On another well known website that publishes speed tests, the median of Plusnet’s “up to 76Mbps” service is 50.2 Mbps. The 66Mbps number they’ve published is only achievable by the top 20%! That’s not a median….

    What’s going on here???? Feels like certain providers are publishing misleading answers.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      It’s worth considering that speedtests conducted by end-users are always subject to the whims of your local environment, such as poor home wiring, a bad network setup, local network load and the fact that many people will test via slow WiFi etc. By comparison ISPs will look to produce a result that tests the line as far as possible within the fixed line network to your home, excluding the impact of WiFi etc.

    2. Andrew Ferguson says:

      The work I did on Saturday to product 70 and 150 points for Virgin, means also have figures for a ‘good tests only’ median on other services too. The good filters out poor Wi-Fi but also can remove people from congested areas.

      PlusNet Fibre Extra jumps from 50.1 to 54.1 Mbps

      The 10% rule was easier to verify, the median is going to be subject to many more queries

  6. nonamesthanksyou says:

    When i first switched from adsl to fibre with plusnet i was getting 75/19 for about 15 months then it dropped to 68/19 for 12 months then it dropped to 64/18 for another 12 months and in the past 3 days its now dropped to 59/15.
    Plusnet told me its maybe down to crosstalk i think this is complete bull!!!
    My bills are £1 more than they used to be when i was getting 75/19 how is it that my speeds have dropped over time but my bills have increased ?
    Im soon going to consider moving to aaisp because im sick to death of lies from plusnet.

  7. Alex says:

    When i first switched from adsl to fibre 80/20 with plusnet, i was getting 76/19, then it dropped to 67/19, now dropped to 55/19. Why have Plusnet cut their Fibre speeds, but increased prices???

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