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Tiscali Escapes Speed Complaints

Posted: 05th Jul, 2006 By: MarkJ
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has cleared Tiscali over subscriber complaints, which had claimed that the ISP was not able to provide its advertised 1 and 2Mbps broadband speeds:

Tiscali UK (Tiscali) said their residential broadband service was a contended service; customers shared the 1Mb and 2Mb bandwidths and the speeds they achieved were dictated by the number of customers online at any given time. They said for that reason they advertised their speeds as "up to". They asserted that all their customers were capable of achieving the advertised 1Mb and 2Mb speeds and that customers should experience speeds within the ranges stated by BT Wholesale; 200-1000 kbps for 1 Mb customers and 400-2000 kbps for 2 Mb customers. They said they did not monitor customer download speeds because they did not believe it was practical or common industry practice. They said they investigated only when a customer reported a slow speed.

Tiscali sent evidence of three random tests on their customers' download speeds taken from a third party speed test. The results showed that the two 1 Mb customers and one 2 Mb customer achieved speeds just under the theoretical maximum.


Unfortunately the new "up to" jargon and recent introduction of ADSLMax (8Mbps) technology does make it much more difficult to gauge whether or not a low speed is the ISP or lines fault. Not forgetting the potential impact of any 'Fair Usage' policies.

The ASA's outcome is technically correct, yet there does exist an underlying problem surrounding the inability to accurately judge performance, one that some ISP's will abuse. Prior to speed boosting it was all so simple, your line either supported 512Kbps and ran at that speed or it didn’t, anything slower was the ISP’s fault.

Still, next month we have to sell a car and the new owner may like some fuel in its tank, thankfully I can leave it almost empty and merely inform him that the tank has “up to” 40 litres =).
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