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Broadband, Mobile & Energy News: Weekly Roundup 10/12/18


Here’s a roundup of last week’s mobile, broadband, and energy news:

New broadband speed test from SamKnows reveals fastest big UK ISPs

This week the internet speed analyst firm SamKnows published results from their “sensationally accurate” broadband ISP speedtest tool, which performed a limited run last month. Virgin Media was had the fastest connections overall, while TalkTalk had the slowest. The test was carried out direct testing, which only uses a small sample size because of the high cost of “installing specially modified routers in homes” used to test connection performance.

SamKnows commented on the success of the test, saying in a statement: “Excitingly, we’re testing faster and faster connections. But importantly, we’re finding that traditional web tests struggle to handle such speeds, and their performance can vary depending on the browser or computer it’s running on.”

The results of the test were used to support the BBC’s Watchdog TV show, which was concerned about the accuracy of some of its data from other tests. Starting on 9th November, SamKnows received data from more than 15,000 speed tests covering the five biggest ISPs (BT, Plusnet, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk, and Virgin Media).

However, it’s important to keep in mind that other factors affect tests like the ones SamKnows run, including slow WiFi speeds, home network congestion or the limitations of the testing.

EE UK and OnePlus partner to offer first commercial 5G phone service in 2019

Mobile network provider EE announced its intention to “become the first operator in the world” to offer the OnePlus 5G Smartphone in 2019, made possible through a research and development partnership with the handset manufacturer. It was confirmed earlier this week that OnePlus would be EE’s partner in launching the 5G mobile services.

EE announced the first 16 UK cities that would see the commercial roll-out of the ultrafast 5G mobile and wireless home broadband ISP network. The initial locations will be the busiest city centres, including London, Cardiff, and Edinburgh.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division, said: “EE and OnePlus have a shared vision: to give our customers the best connected experience possible. We’re working together on cutting edge technology to deliver that, and we’re leading the world on the journey to 5G.”

Pete Lau, CEO and founder of OnePlus, added: “Our users are always eager to try new things and they are now ready to experience the next generation of connectivity and speed. In response, OnePlus has poured efforts into 5G research since 2016.”

BEIS is working with European Commission to hold next top-up capacity market auction in time for next winter.

The government has announced plans to run a top-up auction under the Capacity Market Scheme in the summer of 2019. Last month the European Court of Justice suspended the scheme, preventing the UK from holding any auctions or providing payments until it gains clearance.

The Capacity Market scheme offers generators financial incentives “for ensuring power plants are kept on standby” and are capable and ready to supply emergency back-up electricity when demand is at its highest.

BEIS expects the next auction will be in time for delivery in winter 2019/20, which means the agreements will be conditional on the decisions made by the Commission’s formal investigation. The National Grid will continue to run “with the intention capacity providers may be eligible for deferred payments”.

In a statement, BEIS said: “the court did not find the design of the GB CM to be incompatible with State Aid guidelines. As such, we are exploring together with the Commission the most rapid and effective path to conduct the formal investigation into the scheme in a way that meets all process requirements referred to in the judgement.

“The Commission envisages issuing an Opening Decision to open the formal investigation in early 2019.”

Which? Warn Broadband ISP Loyalty Penalties Cost Users up to £220

In a survey of 3000 of its members, the consumer group Which? has found that broadband ISP customers who stay with their provider and don’t try to negotiate for a better price, end up suffering from “loyalty penalties”. Loyalty penalties can mean an extra £220 a year on average.

Last month, there were report that 71% of respondents to a different survey had remained with their broadband provider for at least 3 years. It is common practice across all service sectors to offer a discounted rate for the first 12 months or more of a contract in order to gain new customers. However, the price will face a sometimes steep hike when the contract is renewed after the initial period.

The new survey from Which? reveals that BT customers are the worst off, with those who didn’t negotiate paying as an average of £540 a year compared to £372 for those who did negotiate. New customers at BT pay only £320 per year on an 18-month contract.

While this is standard practice, some ISPs have reportedly not been transparent enough about how much customers will will pay “post-contract”. Ofcom is working with providers to ensure contract information and pricing is clearly printed on bills. It should also be noted that smaller ISPs do not always adopt this discount model and some “charge a set monthly fee that rarely ever changes”.

O2 4G network restored on Friday after day-long data outage

On Thursday, more than 30 million people had been affected by the O2 data outage, but the company published a statement on its website early on Friday saying the 4G network was up and running once again. Slower 3G data services had been working again since Thursday evening.

An O2 spokesperson said: “A small proportion of customers have reported issues sending text messages. We can see that the vast majority are being sent and received successfully and our technical teams are investigating.

“Our 3G and 4G data services are performing as normal.”

The outage was reportedly due to a problem concerning “faulty software”, according to mobile network equipment supplier Ericsson.

Mark Evans, O2 CEO, said in a joint statement: “I want to let out customers know how sorry I am for the impact our network data issue has had on them, and reassure them that our teams, together with Ericsson, are doing everything we can.”

If you were affected by the O2 data outage, you may be eligible to claim compensation under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. You will need to prove, with sufficient evidence, that you suffered a genuine loss.