If the UK is anything to go by, you don’t. In fact, OFCOM, the independent regulator and competition authority
for the UK communications industries has just released its analysis of broadband speeds in the UK. The analysis shows that, for some services, 97% of consumers do not get the advertised speed.
What’s worse is that the gap between what you are advertised and sold (and invariably pay for) and what you actually do get is getting larger by the year. In 2009, in cases where actual speeds for broadband were 4.1mbps, the average that those services were being advertised for was 7.1Mbps. This year, the gap widens, and you’ll probably get 5.2Mbps out of your broadband if your ISP says you get 11.5Mbps.
This is not to say that your ISP is screwing you that badly. Broadband is a tricky business because a lot of factors influence the speed you get in the end. However, the difference is too large, and OFCOM feels that this needs to be kept in check. Furthermore, information currently being provided is not enough, and OFCOM is pushing for a more complete range of figures to be published, as well as more truthful advertising.
Although not always of excellent quality, the first step to knowing if you’ve been shortchanged by your ISP is to conduct an Internet speed test. There are thousands of websites to do this. My favourites are below:
http://speedtest.go.com.mt/ (This one is Maltese, so results here may differ)
If you’re into web activism at all, you may also want to join this Facebook group: Campaign to receive the internet speed you pay for in Malta. If you want to read how badly you’re being shortchanged if you’re in the UK, see the OFCOM report here.
And remember, regardless what Customer Support tell you, how much free space you have on your hard drive has nothing at all to do with your internet speed. I’ve heard that excuse being delivered with what I imagine was a straight poker face. Luckily, the client happened to know a little something about the internets. In the quiet words of Bob Marley “Don’t let them fool ya, Or even try to school ya! Oh, no!”