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Cityfibre Suggest UK Broadband Worse than Internet on the Beach Abroad

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018 (5:33 pm) - Score 1,949
beach holiday roaming uk broadband access

Fibre optic network builder Cityfibre has suggested via a new survey that people are likely to get “faster internet on the beach in your favourite holiday resort” than when you are trying to connect in the UK, although the survey doesn’t actually confirm that and the results are a mix of questionable interpretations.

Lately Cityfibre has been on somewhat of a largely noble crusade to right a few of the industry’s perceived wrongs, not least by arguing through the courts for an end to “deliberately misleading” uses of “fibre” terminology in ISP adverts for slower hybrid fibre services (i.e. instead of only using it alongside Gigabit capable pure fibre optic lines) and highlighting weaknesses in existing copper broadband networks.

In keeping with that the fibre builder has today claimed that holiday makers could be surprised to find that “uploading their favourite holiday snaps may take longer at home in the UK than it did at their summer holiday destination,” which appears to be at least partly based on a speedtest based study that was recently conducted by research group M-Lab and Cable.co.uk (here).

The results then appear to have been mixed in (or up) with the feedback they received via a recent Censuswide survey of almost 3,500 UK residents (here and here).

Cityfibre’s Statement

The research calculated that around 31 million Brits plan to travel abroad this year, and shockingly, when looking at their top 10 destinations, only those planning to holiday in Italy and Greece would have a tougher time uploading photos than they would if they were in the UK.

This isn’t surprising when you look at the other findings uncovered in the survey. It found that over three quarters (78%) of UK consumers feel slowed down and frustrated by their internet connection, with the figure rising among homeworkers (82%) and young people (87%).

With the rise of remote working and working from home, it seems ironic to have faster internet on the beach in your favourite holiday resort than when you are trying to connect in the UK. Part of the reason we are lagging when it comes to poor broadband is the confusion between part fibre and full fibre created by misleading advertising, which has left many customers confused about their own connectivity.

While we support Cityfibre’s fight for more representative fibre promotions, we still at the same time have to call out a few obvious flaws in some of the interpretations they’re making. Firstly, the Cable.co.uk study was based on consumer speedtest based data and didn’t examine actual network availability (speedtest data is unreliable due to how it can be affected by slow WiFi, local network congestion, consumer package choice etc.).

Secondly, the survey report talks a lot about uploading photos, which overlooks the fact that the examples they quote and the study’s own data only published results in terms of average download speeds and not upload performance. Lest we forget that photos don’t usually need a particularly fast upload connection, especially if you’re saving to Facebook or similar social networks (those tend to downgrade / compress the quality).

Thirdly, the speedtest based research did not examine the specific performance of internet connectivity when on the beach, where you’ll only ever get online via a flaky 3G or 4G mobile data (mobile broadband) connection or weak hotel WiFi, as opposed to a fixed line (we’re pretty confident ISPs aren’t rolling out their cables to people randomly sitting on a beach). This won’t change with universal FTTP.

Suffice to say that Cityfibre have the right intentions but their message risks being damaged by some of the more questionable interpretations of existing data being promoted in today’s press release. It’s perfectly possible to still make the right points and without taking the above approach.

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Mark Jackson
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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9 Responses
  1. Avatar FibreFred

    Smacks of sad desperation.

    Their products speak for themselves don’t they? Why this tacky approach?

  2. Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

    Not so sure i agree with the “faster internet on the beach” remarks. Surely that will be more to do with wifi and down to how good the wifi is rather than how high/good a country ranks in connectivity stakes.

    As for the comparison of the data from the cable.co.uk though and the prior news item on here…
    https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2018/07/uk-slips-to-35th-in-global-country-ranking-by-average-broadband-speed.html

    There is NO denying in that instance the UK does indeed lag behind other places in the world and also some holiday destinations.

    They do rightly point out just how much better Belgium and others are compared to the UK just as i did on the prior cable.co.uk news item. Factual data like that is what they should had stuck to. Its more than enough to show how rubbish the UK is without stretching things to stories about internet on beaches.

    • Avatar EndlessWaves

      Mean speeds quoted in that article don’t say much, other than that country has a few percent of people with gigabit connections.

      The important metric is how many people are on very slow connections and the UK usually does well there in comparison to other countries (particularly those of the same size and not just smaller, more urban countries with a lower rollout cost like Belgium).

      Of course, there is still lots of work to do. There are still far too many stuck at the end of long lines getting less than the USO.

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      “Mean speeds quoted in that article don’t say much, other than that country has a few percent of people with gigabit connections.”

      Belgium as of around this time last year had less FTTP coverage than the UK. So their “few percent” with Gigabit connections would be less than the UK. They do significantly better than us though for FTTP according to European Commission figures.
      https://www.ispreview.co.uk/wp-content/gallery/2018-uk-internet-statistics/eu_2018_ftth_broadband_coverage_by_country.png

      Their main methods of connection are VDSL and DOCSIS 3, not much different to the UK, the performance according to the same European Commission and numerous other reports and data says they perform VASTLY better than the UK though.

      “The important metric is how many people are on very slow connections and the UK usually does well there in comparison to other countries (particularly those of the same size and not just smaller, more urban countries with a lower rollout cost like Belgium).”

      NO that argument does not work either. The UK is not doing well compared to others. Germany which is larger (more than 100,000 Km greater in size than the UK) and has a population of around 80 million compared to the UKs 60 Million was ranked at 25th while the UK was 35th.

      Thus its larger countries such as Germany and ALSO Smaller such as Belgium which are doing significantly better than us. At the start of the UKs rollout their were claims banded about by BT and the Government that the UK would be the “Best in Europe” the reality is we are nowhere near being the best, but far closer to some of the worst in Europe. NO matter what country size or population Europe you wish to examine we are more in-line with the worst performers rather than the best.

  3. Avatar Rahul

    This is a little bit over-exaggerated by CityFibre. I guess this is a marketing stunt from their part to promote their full Fibre product. The internet connection of non-Fibre products aren’t as bad as someone connecting via WiFi at the beach, it’s just not as great as Fibre, I’ll admit.

    Again it really depends on the WiFi service that you receive. For example I was abroad in Bulgaria last year for holiday after 10 years visit as my mum is from there. For the 2 weeks we had Fibre in the apartment we booked in. The WiFi gave me 90-100Mbps download and upload symmetrical on my Samsung Galaxy S5.

    Yet when I went to some shopping mall and tried a WiFi there I received only 4Mbps speedtest which is worse than my current 12-16Mbps here in Central London. Again, it all depends on the WiFi service.

    The same we can see in London, speeds vary greatly depending on the WiFi service. You can get as little as 1Mbps in a coffee shop, but for example in London Barbican Centre or Canary Wharf O2 WiFi will get you 100Mbps.

    Plus if I do visit a beach resort on holiday, I wouldn’t bother about the internet, I’ll be enjoying the beach instead!

  4. Avatar Meadmodj

    Not surprised as this is an unfair comparison. WIFI is now an expectation on the list of facilities. Those larger hotels that do embrace it properly are now likely to have business broadband, more than likely to be fibre and symmetrical with commercial grade WIFI APs. As most guests will be downloading content anybody actually doing an upload will probably be well happy. So this should not be compared with consumer which in the main will be slower asymmetrical upload speeds and many countries experience the same issues as we do in the UK regarding speed and rural/remote coverage.
    My personal experience in Greece and islands though is still the need to wander around the lobby looking for a weak WIFI signal.

  5. Avatar 5G Infinity

    “internet connectivity when on the beach, where you’ll only ever get online via a flaky 3G or 4G mobile data (mobile broadband) connection or weak hotel WiFi, as opposed to a fixed line” – if you are in a kayak in a Norwegian Fjord then its 4G Adv Pro – 200Mbps+, if you are at the base of the Vulan Arenal in Costa Rica, 8km from the road in a rain forest its still 3G HSPA+.

    No flaky beaches on my hols.

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