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Why broadband is slow in Brighton and Hove

The Argus: Tom Coady's broadband is woefully slow Tom Coady's broadband is woefully slow

Residents are facing a postcode lottery over broadband speeds in Brighton and Hove.

Figures from thinkbroadband.com have revealed the shocking discrepancies of speeds even between neighbours in the same street.

This is despite Brighton and Hove being one of the better-served areas in the UK, with faster average speeds than the south east as a whole and London.

While that might sound encouraging it papers over the cracks of the reality for some.

More than six per cent of those who tested their broadband had a speed lower than 2Mbps (mega bits per second).

The average for Brighton and Hove is 17.3Mbps. But the good news is the fastest 25 per cent of the city are getting speeds of about 36Mbps.

The map shows just how much speeds can vary between streets and sometimes even between houses.

There are several reasons why you might be twiddling your thumbs waiting for that download while your neighbour is merrily streaming away.

The main reason is cabinets – those green boxes you see on the side of the road.

Inside them holds the key to your broadband speed. Some will be BT, some Virgin Media and some for housing hardware for things like traffic lights.

For Virgin Media, while service does not vary in connection speed, some areas may have more people using the service and this can affect the actual speeds people experience.

For the telephone line-based services it is about the length of their specific telephone line back to the cabinet or telephone exchange, depending on the type of service. This distance limit is the largest factor, but congestion at peak times can still have an effect.

Two next door properties can have different speeds since there is no guarantee that the two lines are attached to the same cabinet or telephone exchange.

Andrew Ferguson, editor of thinkbroadband.com, said: “Brighton is fairly well served as there is near-universal availability of Virgin Media cable services.

“The availability of the Openreach fibre based services is also good, as almost all cabinets in Withdean offer this faster service.

“The Hove, Kemptown, Portslade and Southwick areas have a good level of coverage, but due to the number of small cabinets, have more holes in coverage.

“The decisions from both operators have led to the difference in speeds being very drastic, potentially even with between next door properties.”

And at the end of the day it is a case of you get what you pay for.

Mr Ferguson explained: “As these are speed tests done on people’s computers they do reflect the reality of what the person experiences and since it is human nature to try and choose the best value for money package the vast majority do not buy the fastest package available (Virgin Media offer a 152 Mbps option now).

“Even in areas where the fibre-based services from BT, Sky, TalkTalk and others are available we are seeing people not upgrading sometimes because of the extra £10 to £20 per month premium that this faster product commands, causing variation.”

In May last year BT was selected to roll out superfast broadband to the majority of homes across East Sussex and Brighton and Hove.

The Go e-Sussex project will see 99 per cent of homes and businesses across the area able to access superfast speeds by 2016.

It means most locations – 96 per cent – will be able to get speeds in excess of 24Mbps while the remaining three per cent will get faster speeds but just below the 24Mbps mark.

A spokesman Brighton and Hove City Council said: “We have a specialist team that works on the Super Connected Cities Programme and most of the funding has been directed towards the voucher scheme for small businesses as this is technology neutral and is not necessarily reliant on the upgrade of street cabinets by BT/Virgin.

“We can’t advise private residential customers on the merits of one supplier over any others. There are times when we have supported their complaints by raising queries with suppliers direct about when a cabinet might be upgraded but it is BT or Virgin’s decisions which areas they upgrade the cabinets in and when.”

Tom Coady, 50, of Regency Square, whose provider is Sky, says: "I get 1-2mbps on Sky, but it is supposed to be a minimum of 7mbps. 

"I live about three miles from the Hove exchange. Sky have asked BT Openreach to investigate. At one stage, streaming wasn't possible. Uploading takes hours, sometimes days."

Comments (5)

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10:54am Tue 1 Apr 14

fredaj says...

Superfast broadband is all well and good but people have to pay between £120 and £240 a year to get it and meanwhile standard broadband is, as the article, says a complete lottery.

I have a couple of friends in the centre of town who are lucky to get 3Mb or 4Mb while paying the same price as another who can get 14Mb.

It all seems rather uneven and a bit unfair and I'd rather see the money being spent on upgrading the area to superfast broadband being spent getting everyone (country wide) to a decent speed when just the standard broadband product is purchased.

If we need money to bring the country up to a superfast standard then cancel HS2 and use that money on broadband instead.
Superfast broadband is all well and good but people have to pay between £120 and £240 a year to get it and meanwhile standard broadband is, as the article, says a complete lottery. I have a couple of friends in the centre of town who are lucky to get 3Mb or 4Mb while paying the same price as another who can get 14Mb. It all seems rather uneven and a bit unfair and I'd rather see the money being spent on upgrading the area to superfast broadband being spent getting everyone (country wide) to a decent speed when just the standard broadband product is purchased. If we need money to bring the country up to a superfast standard then cancel HS2 and use that money on broadband instead. fredaj
  • Score: 3

11:31am Tue 1 Apr 14

Fight_Back says...

The only reliable way to get fast and stable broadband is over fibre but obviously you have to pay more for this than broadband over telephone wires. Can't fault the Virgin service in the Hangleton area - averages around 50mbps.
The only reliable way to get fast and stable broadband is over fibre but obviously you have to pay more for this than broadband over telephone wires. Can't fault the Virgin service in the Hangleton area - averages around 50mbps. Fight_Back
  • Score: 1

11:37am Tue 1 Apr 14

superlative says...

BT wanted to install a fibre optic cabinet on my road in Kemp Town, but the application was turned down by the council's planning department. So I think we are stuck with what we've got for the foreseeable future - even if people were willing to pay for faster speeds, they're not available because we don't have the infrastructure in place, which seems like a real shame for a city that makes a big deal of its digital sector.
BT wanted to install a fibre optic cabinet on my road in Kemp Town, but the application was turned down by the council's planning department. So I think we are stuck with what we've got for the foreseeable future - even if people were willing to pay for faster speeds, they're not available because we don't have the infrastructure in place, which seems like a real shame for a city that makes a big deal of its digital sector. superlative
  • Score: 7

12:30pm Tue 1 Apr 14

IanHPA says...

Round here it is Virgin or nothing, since it is simply not possible to find out when, if ever, BT intends to install a fibre cabinet in Hollingbury Park Avenue. Virgin is more expensive and has limited phone options so some consumer choice would be good. BT, feel free to respond.
Round here it is Virgin or nothing, since it is simply not possible to find out when, if ever, BT intends to install a fibre cabinet in Hollingbury Park Avenue. Virgin is more expensive and has limited phone options so some consumer choice would be good. BT, feel free to respond. IanHPA
  • Score: 2

2:53pm Tue 1 Apr 14

Richada says...

We're getting approx. 80 Mbps, but are close to the Withdean Exchange and have BT Infinity via fibre optics. Even that, on occasion, isn't fast enough to stream HD content which BT are advertising.
We're getting approx. 80 Mbps, but are close to the Withdean Exchange and have BT Infinity via fibre optics. Even that, on occasion, isn't fast enough to stream HD content which BT are advertising. Richada
  • Score: 0

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