here) but the details do not list that she can get FTTC at 50-80Mb/s or ADSL2+ at 6-8Mb/s from any BT back-haul ISP, or that she can get TalkTalk DSL 5-8Mb/s. They could, but they don't. For some people this matters. For some people FTTC availability is a show stopper when picking a house!
To be frank I also wondered why broadband comparison sites (e.g. the ones you see advertised on TV) are behind the game as well. They ask for a postcode but do not actually work out what you can get.
The reason is the availability checkers. For both scenarios, what you ideally want is for the postcode (or better still address/number) check to be done to work out all of the underlying technologies available, and the forecast speeds and services available, and then report those along with the various packages that different ISPs can offer.
So, for example, if I go to broadbandchoices.co.uk, who proudly boast on their TV adverts that they "compare all of the best deals in your area" all I get is a list of the larger ISPs that have paid them money to be listed, all offering an "Up to XMb/s" services. They do not actually work out what speeds are available. Indeed, putting a friends postcode, who is in the middle of nowhere, and gets around 1.4Mb/s on each of four 20CN BT lines which we bond for him, broadbandchoices list a range of ISPs that use BT back-haul with speeds up to 6, 8, and 16Mb/s. Given that there is only BT 20CN, offering an "up to 16Mb/s" service is a tad optimistic, and given an actual postcode it is ludicrous. The fact that I am offered a choice of speeds for the same underlying 20CN technology which will work at the same speed is misleading at best. Yet this site is OFCOM accredited and approved?!?!
Actually, I wonder if the ASA should be involved here. Advertising "up to 16Mb/s" or whatever, is all very well for a national advert where someone in the UK can get that (and I don't agree with the ASA that picking a slightly lower figure helps), but when the audience is someone at a specific postcode that you know will not ever get close to that, then that is lying, surely? broadbandchoices.co.uk just plainly lie, in my opinion, in suggesting that anyone can offer "up to 16Mb/s" at my friend's Derbyshire postcode. It is a lie, simple as that.
If OFCOM had any sense then they would require all back-haul carriers to make these checkers available much more openly, even if for a [very] small fee, so that people like estate agents or comparison sites, could provide accurate comparisons and detailed information.
It almost falls in to public interest / national infrastructure type data, like the postcode location database which is now public under the ordnance survey data.
That said, it is crazy to suggest that you can compare broadband suppliers in the same way you can compare electricity suppliers or even telephone call suppliers. Alex covered this on his blog as well (here). The actual service varies, and does so by a heck of a lot more that just speed. Something to check an address and report technology based speed forecast and list ISPs that can provide, with their differences, would be good, but comparison sites don't do that - they compare the "up to" speed (badly) and the price and that is all.
So, my latest plan is to work with the local estate agents here to see if we can find a way to provide actual forecast speeds and availability checks for things like FTTC on particulars of houses they advertise, in return for an AAISP advert.
P.S. Did I mention that her house has FTTC, and structured cabling to each room, three floors work well with the unifi APs as a set, convenient to the town centre, and the local pub. You know you want to buy the place.
Update: Someone has pointed out that whilst the particulars of the property to not list broadband details, they have a link. This link is wrong, as it does not say the FTTC speeds that they can get - but well done for trying :-) It does beg the question - why can't broadbandchoices manage that?
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