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BBC and SamKnows join forces for better internet

We were on BBC Watchdog last night. This week’s episode asked the all-important question: are you getting value for money when it comes to your internet? BBC Watchdog found that 35% of those who contacted their ISP with their SamKnows speed test results, saw an improvement. And 13% were offered a discount.

Last night we were very excited to be featured on BBC Watchdog, a show that conducts nationwide polls on big consumer issues. This week’s episode asked the all-important question: are you getting value for money when it comes to your own broadband?

BBC Watchdog found that out of those people who contacted their internet supplier with their SamKnows speed test results, 35% said their connection was improved and 13% were offered a discount.

For this investigation, BBC Watchdog recruited a team of viewers across the UK to check their internet speeds against what was advertised by using our simple SamKnows speed test. 11 families also received a SamKnows Whitebox to comprehensively test their exact speeds several times over a one-week period.

Broadband speeds are measured in how many Megabits of data you can download per second, which is important if you’re streaming videos online. Generally speaking, you need a consistent connection of 8Mbps to reliably stream video content in HD, although this “minimum speed” varies depending on the video provider.

According to BBC Watchdog, a whopping 48% of Brits say that they sometimes experience buffering when watching videos online, and the same number say that they lose connection altogether. But the real frustration is that no matter what connection you receive, you still have to pay for the fastest possible speed. On top of this, advertising rules state that only 10% of customers actually need to receive these speeds for the marketing claims to be legal.

As the results came in, it was clear that home broadband speeds often fall far behind what is promised by internet providers.

Phillip in Leeds had a good result. He paid for an ‘up to 100Mbps’ deal and was getting 97.9Mbps download speed. However, Sharon in Cornwall was less than impressed with her ‘up to 17Mbps’ package:

“That is really disgusting and I’m quite shocked at what we are getting — 1.1Mbps download. Really, they should be charging us for what we are getting, not what we could be getting.”

In fact, nearly 2 out of every 3 people in the study found that they weren’t getting the top speeds advertised for their package.

As for the 11 families who tested their speeds with the Whitebox — 7 of them didn’t receive the advertised top speeds, and 4 families were consistently provided with half of their advertised speed.

So, what can you do to make sure that your internet service provider is delivering what you’ve paid for? You can check out the BBC Watchdog website to run your SamKnows test and visit our website to learn more and sign up for a free SamKnows Whitebox!

Help us with our goal to be in every home, accurately measuring internet performance whilst campaigning for better broadband connectivity. To measure your broadband speeds, go the web test here.