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RA getting up to speed on broadband performance issues

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Are you concerned that you are not getting the internet speed that you are paying for in Bermuda?

The Island's Regulatory Authority assures that it is gearing up to address exactly that issue as part of its work plan in the coming year.

In the meantime it is encouraging the public to make any complaints via its website www.rab.bm where you can click on the green button to “+ make a complaint”.

“This falls under Quality of Service which is a project we are proposing in our 2014-15 work plan,” RA CEO Philip Micallef said yesterday.

He added: “In the short term we are dealing with individual complaints but in the long term will be dealing with it in a two-pronged approach:

“1. Contractual: Terms and Conditions of carriers need to reflect what is being provided to customer and cannot have terms like ‘speeds up to'.

2. Technical: Measurements at various times of day and various places on Island.

“This is an issue not particular only to Bermuda.”

Mr Micallef pointed to the latest EU report (March 2012) on internet speeds, which covers DSL, cable and fibre-based services and revealed that European consumers were not getting the broadband internet (DSL, cable, fibre-optic) download speeds they pay for.

On average, they receive only 74 percent of the advertised headline speed paid for.

However, Maltese users got a better deal; 95.4 percent of advertised speeds for cable (connection by the local cable TV provider) and 86 percent for DSL (connection by telephone wires).

The report noted while the EU's average compares poorly to the USA's average of 96 percent of advertised download speed, it is imperative to note that the actual download speeds attained in Europe were considerably higher than those in the USA.

In Bermuda, it can depend on location. In Hamilton, a user said it's good and approaches the speed purchased. But in other areas, a customer said he upgraded his internet speed to 4MB as his provider came down in price but his speed “is not even 2MB”.

Another user said they are paying for 15MB but at peak times it drops to only 8MB.

According to the Regulatory Authority's published work plan and associated budget for the fiscal year April 2014 to March 2015, “The RA will implement measures to prevent significant disparities between consumers' expectations of broadband performance and their actual experience.

“The RA will also make available information on how end-users can make informed choices about the type of service they are likely to receive upon entering into a contract with a broadband electronic communication service provider.

“For example, the RA will publish information on broadband speeds, taking into consideration the different technologies used, information that should be made available to end-users at point of sale, and information that should be provided on the providers' website. The availability of comparisons of broadband connection speeds and service prices of all broadband electronic communication service providers is another initiative that the RA intends to carry out.

“These studies will help ensure that end-users choose the package that is the most appropriate for them in light of their individual circumstances and needs.”

The RA added: “Electronic communications is at a critical stage of development. Over the coming years there will be a move to next-generation access networks, such as the provision of high-speed broadband access via fibre-optic cable. This will occur here across all platforms and across an increasingly large area of Bermuda.

“The move to next generation access (NGA) networks will present opportunities for both business and domestic users in terms of new applications and services, which will have socio-economic benefits.

The RA will continue to work towards facilitating the introduction of RA networks from a regulatory standpoint, whilst ensuring that their coming into existence does not result in competition bottlenecks.

“The RA will create the necessary regulatory framework to facilitate the roll-out of NGAs, typically characterised by a fibre-to-the-home environment.

“The RA will, among others things, assess the benefits of the sharing of network elements such as ducts and in-building wiring between operators.”

Is your internet up to speed? The RA says terms and conditions of carriers need to reflect what is being provided to customer and cannot have terms like ‘speeds up to'.
Philip Micallef, Regulatory Authority CEO.

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Published October 15, 2013 at 9:25 am (Updated October 15, 2013 at 9:25 am)

RA getting up to speed on broadband performance issues

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