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O2 Survey Claims Millions Wasted on Broadband


O2 Survey Claims Millions Wasted on Broadband

While many believe that the UK’s broadband infrastructure is currently not good enough, a survey conducted on behalf of O2 suggests that millions of people are actually paying for more bandwidth than they need.

The findings from the survey suggest that while the average consumer is playing for an ‘up to 20Mb’ connection – most respondents would have been better off paying for a cheaper 8Mb package.

The survey sampled 2,000 people and found that 77 per cent using their connection for emailing, 74 per cent for web page browsing, 51 per cent for banking and 35 per cent for social networking – the latter figure seems on the low side to us.

However, service that demand higher speeds were used far less with only 18 per cent of the respondents streaming content, five per cent downloading music and only three per cent downloading films.

This equates to £700 million a year being spent on packages that aren’t needed – or £2.1million a day.

Felix Geyr, Head of O2 Home and Broadband, said in a statement, “62% of broadband consumers in our survey would prefer their ISP to provide packages based around their specific needs. Therefore, our industry needs to tailor its services to people’s needs, help consumers understand exactly what they should be buying and avoid marketing based solely on speed.

“It would be much more transparent if we took the same ‘a la carte’ approach offered to customers buying digital TV packages, where people can opt in to obtain more expensive services like film and sport.”

O2 quotes Sebastien Lahtinen, co-founder of thinkbroadband.com, who said that, “This research clearly highlights the need for the industry as a whole to re-think the way it sells broadband. Consumers need to be educated about what kind of service they need to cover their daily usage and the industry needs to help them to make informed choices. Whilst some users will want the fastest possible package, others may find they can save money by picking a package that is more suitable to their specific needs."

Surprise, surprise then that O2 is about to offer three new packages based around usage – The Basics, at £8 a month for O2 customers or £13 for other, the All Rounder, for those that download and stream in moderation – at £12 a month for O2 customers and £17 for those who aren’t – and the Works – a £20/£25 a month package for those that download a lot.


September 6, 2010, 2:12 pm

maybe a lot of the people surveyed didn't realize what the survey was about, do they know if they had a cheap low package it would be more difficult for things like the iplayer? you'd be surprised by the amount of people that don't understand that the iplayer streams over there broadband.

but i do agree there needs to be better options from the isp's

Mike 39

September 6, 2010, 2:47 pm

Why doesn't it surprise me that many people are paying for speeds that they either don't need, or very possibly don't actually get as lot of the time! People need to remember that the speeds quoted by the ISP's are often 'are to' speeds, so in reality, very rarely actually achieve these marvellous quoted speeds! and yet are forking out good money for this! Like any connection with anything, speeds on networks are only as fast as the weakest point. There's no advantage for instance having an ISP saying therir going install fibre optic cabling etc etc, if the households wanting to receive this cannot achieve a connection to the nearest line/cable! i.e. the weakest lnk then becomes the point from the individual household to the nearest junction box!


September 6, 2010, 3:56 pm

I always find it funny when people pay for upto 8Mbit and then get 2Mbit, then they upgrade to upto 20Mbit and only then get 7Mbit.

surely they should have got the 7Mbit when they were paying for upto 8Mbit?

I think it's time the tech industry and tech people just start laying into these false claims at every opportunity to force a reaction, much like was done with apple and that antenna.

obviously this only really affects landline broadband, I have virginmedia and have never had an issue with false advertised claims,

so even though I dont have any problem like above I am happy to start some action against these utter lies the companies are spinning.

the gadget show has started a campaingn http://fwd.five.tv/adv/broa... but needs to gain more attention but I think that the whole campaign would be helped a lot if the rest of the tech world started similar actions or joined forces in one big action. people with blogs, ect. can do the same, if we put our minds to it we can easily beat these lying companies within a very short amount of time.


September 6, 2010, 5:20 pm


This pretty much confirms what I have suspected for years - people are simply keeping up with the Joneses, without any clue as to what they actually need.

"Oh, you only have a 20 mbit service?...pity...we have a 50 mbit service, and a turbo diesel Volkswagon on a twenty-ten plate don't you know..."

Personally, I think the majority of home users should be limited to a 256 kbs line on their first sign-up - if they find they need more, should have the option to increase this in 256 kbs increments to a maximum of 8 mbs.

You would have a hard time convincing me that home users NEED more than 8mbs.

One thing these statistics fail to include for obvious reasons is the amount of useage which relates to Adult content, which is 40% of all internet traffic. Think about it...that's just 10 points away from half of the entire interweb...so the next time someone tells you they need more speed, or their connection is poor, there is 40% chance as to why they have that opinion.



September 6, 2010, 5:45 pm

Is it just me - or has the gadget show really gone downhill since they started trying to be "top gear" to gadgets ... ?

I fast forward through it now and stop for the gadgets and Suzi - probably 5 minutes of decent program in every hour long show :(

Jamie C

September 6, 2010, 5:57 pm

What a load of tosh from o2. They've just released this 'survey' to mask the fact that they've increased prices on their broadband packages. I am currently on the "All Rounder" package equivalent and only being charged £10 p.m. due to the discount. The new price is £2 more per month. Same goes for the other packages, up 50p and £2.50 respectively on the old prices. No wonder they're out to convince people to switch to a lower cost package, while they're busy raising prices. I'm up for a contract renewal in october and I better not be charged the inflated prices, while offering nothing new. In fairness they are still tons cheaper than the equivalent service from BT/Sky/Virgin, but that is beside the point.

Checking the o2 site, I also see the ability to switch to a 30 day contract for a £30 fee which is reasonable, however, I don't remember there being a £25 connection fee for non-o2 users, which can be circumvented more cheaply by getting a o2 sim card and topping up the minimum £10 instead of paying £15 more.

I'm surprised Trusted Reviews has missed this and would rather see the price hikes being reported instead of frivolous o2 PR.


September 6, 2010, 6:02 pm

I'm on the 'o2 access' package (on an exchange that hasn't been unbundled yet) and I swear their traffic shaping rules change all the time. As soon as you have a family that all browse the web in the evenings, iplayer gets a bit... Unpredictable!


September 6, 2010, 6:09 pm

As a normally happy O2 customer, i am more than a little worried that the whole reason for this 'survey' is to bump up the prices it charges its customers.

To continue to have the same benefits i currently have on 'unlimited usage' but basic connection (upto 8mb), i would have to move up to O2's new middle package, which cost more £££ per month.

So is it a worthwhile survey or a smokescreen for higher prices ?

And how will o2's pricing affect current customers ?


September 6, 2010, 6:44 pm

@Mike & Jay: People are getting exactly what they pay for, an ADSL or ADSL 2+ connection. The problem is not the ISPs failing to provide the service but people not understanding what they're buying.

It's not a simply case of getting ISPs to give potential customers an accurate estimate, this is impossible as speed is influenced by a lot of things the ISP has no knowledge of (such as the user's home wiring and wireless devices) and most do now give an estimate of the maximum speed the user may get if all is good their end (usually revised down by a megabit or two to account for some sub-optimal stuff on the user's end).

Campaigning for change is all very well but you're much more likely to be successful if you have details of what they change should be rather than just complaining with no proposed solution as the gadget show are doing.

p.s. Virgin suffer from this just as much with their blatantly wrong promises of unlimited broadband²

² Subject to these limits: http://shop.virginmedia.com...


September 6, 2010, 7:03 pm


Virgin's traffic management used to be an issue, but over the last couple of years I haven't suffered from at all while on the 10MB service, even while streaming long movies in 1080p. Now I'm on the 50MB service, which isn't subject to traffic management at all.

Virgin isn't perfect, but it's doing a lot better than its competitors. It is quite expensive, though.


September 6, 2010, 8:29 pm

Xiphias: I dont think they are doing enough at all they could easily say on the adverts "that you are paying to get upto 8Mbit but in reality you will not unless you live next door to the exchange and have perfect wiring we will give you an estimate of the speed that you will get when you call" and not to put in in white small print on a white background. perhaps you the people who cannot get the full advertised speed should get a proportional discount, as it isn't really fair that you have to pay the same as someone else for less just because you don't live in a perfect location.

and it is only upto the companies to be open about what happens and not the 'unknowledgeable customer', you know the whole mis-selling/lying by omission.

as for the virgin media comments yes they do speed manage but that is only in a few areas according to your link, and they make no effort to actually cut off your internet or charge you more, so yes they are actually unlimited interms of how much you can download.

plus look at it this way on say BT you pay for upto 8Mbits but infact you actually get 2Mbits because of where you live, or you pay virgin media for 10Mbits (and you get that because it doesn't drop off) and even if you go over your download limit you only get limited to 2Mbits which is all you would be paying for from BT.

and remember there is no limits on the weekend. (just one senario)

I (like pimlicosound) have also never had an issue with it either, as I don't think I have ever downloaded tons and tons of data but I am happy to pay for higher speeds because of gaming which is helped by higher speeds but doesn't really use much total data. If I ever download large amounts of data (steam or free itunes stuff) I usually do it overnight (because it doesn't take up all the bandwidth for other users or myself and because I am not waiting for it to download) or at weekends.


September 6, 2010, 8:31 pm

or like on the radio they could/should say all the small print at the end of the advert really fast, as honestly who actually watches adverts? usually they are just on in the background (so you would still hear the small print)


September 7, 2010, 4:08 pm

Maybe we should introduce the legislation that Hungary did and require ISPs to sell packages based on a guaranteed minimum speed rather than a very hypothetical maximum.


September 7, 2010, 9:00 pm

I'd be interested in seeing the exact questions O2 asked. I have colleagues who use iPlayer and YouTube all the time, but claim that they never "stream content" - presumably because they associate that with live broadcasts and internet radio.

Call me cynical, but I'm willing to bet a decent bit of money that the 'survey' deliberately asked the 'right' sort of questions to elicit the responses O2 wanted - and that this has everything to do with the joint Ofcom/ASA campaign to force ISPs to be clearer and more transparent in their ads about the speeds consumers can really expect to get. "No, no, we don't need to be, because consumers *really* don't need to care as much about speed as they do. See? Here's a survey which proves it!"

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