Broadband, Mobile & Energy News: Weekly Roundup 08/04/19

TalkTalk Optimises Wi-Fi for its Residential Customers

Budget broadband provider TalkTalk has deployed ASSIA’s CloudCheck software to their routers to improve connectivity for domestic customers. The software, which is being rolled out to the ISP’s ‘Wi-Fi Hub’ routers, uses cloud-based, machine-learning algorithms to monitor the current and historic conditions of a home Wi-Fi environment. It then makes automatic adjustments to improve the network’s strength and performance.

Phil Haslam, Chief Network Officer at TalkTalk, said: “In-home Wi-Fi performance is increasingly becoming the primary factor in how a residential customer perceives the quality of service provided by their internet service provider.”

“The ASSIA solution gives us the additional data and visibility we need to understand the various patterns that can affect in-home Wi-Fi performance—and the management and optimisation tools to deliver the best experience for our customers,” he added.

TalkTalk are also employing ASSIA’s relayed TruSpeed service, which measures broadband speed at the router, delivering a more accurate assessment than a speed test conducted over Wi-Fi. The test will help TalkTalk meet Ofcom’s Broadband Speed Code, which requires ISPs give potential subscribers accurate estimates about the line speeds they’re likely to achieve at home. Under the voluntary regulation, if the speed customers receive doesn’t match these estimates, they can exit broadband contracts penalty-free.

Sky and Three the Best Telecoms Companies for Haggling

A survey of 6,500 broadband and mobile phone consumers has revealed that subscribers who negotiate with their telecoms providers can earn significant savings. Customers had the most success wangling better prices from Sky Broadband and TV services, with 84% of hagglers finding discounts.

Among mobile operators, Three was more receptive to haggling, followed by Sky’s mobile service, with 76% to 78% of customers who tried negotiation finding success, followed by Sky’s mobile service. Other telecoms firms receptive to haggling included mobile operators EE and broadband providers Virgin Media, Plusnet, and BT. TalkTalk and Vodafone fell out of the table, after performing well last year.

Telecoms customers are widely advised to negotiate for better prices when their current contract ends or they’re facing a mid-contract price hike. This is especially true of customers of large providers, which employ introductory periods, which reward new customers with cheap rates and then quietly raise them—by an average of 15% but up to 89%— for customers who don’t switch or try to bargain.

Haggling is one way to escape this so-called loyalty penalty, which, according to research by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA), is costing Britain’s internet users an extra £1 billion a year.

However, previous research has suggested that only around 10% of consumers try to negotiate with their telecoms providers.

SSE Pays £700k Fine for Missing Gas Smart Meter Rollout Target

Big Six energy supplier SSE has paid a £700k fine to Ofgem’s consumer redress fund after failing to meet its target for the installation of smart gas meters last year.

Under the £12 billion smart meter rollout, suppliers are required to take “all reasonable steps” to offer next generation meters to all homes and small business by the end of 2020.

Energy suppliers with more than 250,000 customers are required to set individual intermediate targets. Their performance is monitored by energy market regulator Ofgem.

SSE met its 2018 target for the installation of electricity smart meters but missed its goal for smart gas meters. The target was met only in February of this year.

Chris Adams, Director of Metering and Smart Transformation at SSE, said: “We worked hard during 2018 to successfully transition to the new generation of smart meter, which brings full functionality to customers and installed around 600,000 meters during the year. However, while there were many achievements in 2018, we are disappointed that we fell slightly short on meeting our gas target.”

“We quickly recovered the shortfall during February 2019 and are on target for the year ahead,” he added.

The voluntary energy redress scheme, run by Ofgem and administered by the Energy Savings Trust, collects fines from energy firms which have breached rules. It delivers these funds to schemes and charities supporting vulnerable energy customers.

300GW of New Wind Power Capacity to Be Installed Worldwide in the Next 5 Years

The world’s wind power capacity will grow by 50% in the next five years, as 300GW of new wind power capacity is added, especially in emerging markets and offshore, according to predictions from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

As of 2019, there is 600GW capacity of wind power, with 53.9GW of capacity added in 2018 alone—much of it onshore.

But much of the projected growth over the next five years will be driven by in investment in emerging markets, like Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Argentina, Colombia and Peru, as wind power, and especially off-shore installations, becomes “truly globalised,” the GWEC forecast.

Meanwhile, growth in mature wind markets will remain strong, as the wind industry proves its cost competitiveness against fossil fuels and nuclear power.

The UK currently has 20.7GW of wind power capacity, 12.8GW onshore and 7.9 offshore. In 2018, 18% of our electricity was generated by wind power, up from 13.5% in 2017.

Cap on 118 Number Charges to Protect 1 Million Consumers

The amount firms can charge diallers of 118 numbers has been capped, under Ofgem regulation that came into force 1 April.

The maximum a 118 service can charge customers is now £3.65 per 90 seconds, bringing costs in line with 2012 levels.

Ofgem introduced the cap after finding some consumers were being charged nearly £20 a minute for calls to 118 director enquiry numbers. It also found that two-thirds of callers to these services didn’t know how much they cost before picking up the phone.

While calls to 118 services have been declining by around 40% each year, a million consumers in the UK continue to use them. Most of these callers are elderly and don’t have access to the internet. Ofgem research found that people over 65 were four times more likely than those aged 16 to 34 to dial a 118 number.

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