As I previously blogged, there are proposals to make ISPs advertise broadband service speeds differently.
This is a complex topic - the speed of the line itself depends on technology and location, so in a general headline it is hard to explain. A headline explaining the best the technology can do is good for comparing ISPs, but changes to show 90th percentile muddied the waters and they are getting worse with latest changes. One suggestion was to advertising a minimum, for example...
Oddly enough I, and others, predicted it would not help... See this from Sky...
They are advertising a 55Mb/s minimum speed service.
Now, compare to normal FTTC which could be anything from 1Mb/s (maybe even lower, not sure) to 80Mb/s, if advertised as a guaranteed minimum side by side, you would go for Sky with the 55Mb/s minimum, obviously. Obviously a "guaranteed 1Mb/s minimum" is worse than a "guaranteed 55Mb/s minimum"... WRONG!
The speed you can get using a particular technology (presumably FTTC in this case) depends on your location and the line quality. You get what you get using that technology whether you go with Sky or BT or A&A.
The difference is that if you cannot get 55Mb/s then Sky will not sell you "that package", though I am sure they will then offer alternatives such as slower FTTC or ADSL package.
So all we have is misleading advertising making people think there is a better package when there is not.
Indeed, maybe we need an A&A headline: "79Mb MINIMUM SPEED GUARANTEE (available to X%). If you cannot get this we have an alternative 78Mb MINIMUM SPEED GUARANTEE (available to X%). If you cannot get that we have 77Mb MINIMUM SPEED GUARANTEE (available to X%)..." and so on.
The changes being proposed are absolutely not helping customers make informed choices.
Update: Someone has checked the Sky web site and put in various addresses and found that Sky are apparently guaranteeing the 55Mb/s based on the "minimum forecast speed (impacted)" not on the "handback threshold" and so are taking a small risk that some lines may sync between the two and they have to refund a customer without getting a refund from BT, so well done Sky - I stand corrected.
However, my point still stands, Sky will not make your line do 55Mb/s. If it can manage 55Mb/s, then it will for any ISP. If it cannot, then it will not for any ISP.