Citizens Advice calls for telecoms consumer advocate
Citizens Advice is weighing in on the broadband is unreliable and patchy issues and is asking the Government as part of a Consumer Green Paper to appoint a telecoms consumer advocate to give similar representation as other markets like water and energy.
Six out of 10 broadband consumers experienced slow service or had their connection stop working entirely in the last year, disrupting the ability of some consumers to work or study (24%), pay bills or online bank (16%), or connect with friends and family (21%), new polling from Citizens Advice has found. This latest polling builds on previous research from Citizens Advice that shows consumers face more problems in the mobile and broadband markets than other essential markets like energy and water.
The survey is interesting as we suspect it is actually likely that closer to ten out of ten will have experienced at some slow broadband in the last year, i.e. to go a whole year without some web page or video buffering is almost unheard of, the problem with broadband issues is identifying whose realm the problem exists in, so it might be local Wi-Fi congestion, client Wi-Fi software issues, broadband router issues, the broadband connection itself, backhaul from local area to ISP core network, ISP core network, peering links to service networks, the actual server delivering the data to you. Add to this issues around mobile which is generally even more variable than fixed line broadband and 6 out of 10 is actually sounding pretty good.
This complex lng tail of issues affecting broadband is why sites like ourselves and ISPreview exist as the public can ask questions, get feedback on issues and ultimately hopefully leave with a better knowledge to get an issue fixed or peer help fixes their problem. To some extent one always worries that some providers support desks rely too much on the ability for 3rd parties to help the public and bypass their computer says no problems to get things fixed for people. If a telecoms consumer advocate is created how it will be funded is crucial and safeguards need to be put in place to ensure some providers do not save money by downsizing support services to make use of a state funded support desk for their customers.
Perhaps the way forward is to help enable those who already help the public to do more. Three tips for the weekend that apply no matter whether you have ADSL or full fibre connectivity are:
- If you stream films or TV to your main TV, if at all possible connect the TV via an Ethernet cable to your broadband router. Wi-Fi is a wonderful but can lead to unexplained blips and by removing Wi-Fi from the equation generally people have a more buffer free experience.
- If you can only use Wi-Fi for streaming, ensure the device is using the 5 GHz band which has more bandwidth and is less affected by congestion.
If your broadband provider names the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands the same, remain them to something different and then you can control which band a device is using.
- If your broadband provider only has given you a wireless router with 802.11n (single band 2.4 GHz) consider turning off the Wi-Fi in that device and connect a third party dual band wireless access point via an Ethernet cable.
This gives you better Wi-Fi speeds and reliability and you can position the broadband router in the optimum location for the broadband signal and the Wi-Fi access point in a location that is not cluttered with objects.