Broadband is a vital technology – it’s how we access our entertainment, social networks and news with eBanking, eCommerce and eGovernment now a part of our everyday lives.
CICRA’s own customer surveys suggest satisfaction with the quality of broadband service is relatively low. Buffering, freezing, inconsistent download speeds and long delays in accessing content can all contribute to a negative impression of broadband.
To better understand these concerns, and how the Channel Island competition and regulatory authorities can best protect and promote the interest of island consumers, we commissioned a study from a leading-edge technology firm called Actual Experience. The study involved monitoring the broadband behaviours in hundreds of homes across the Channel Islands over six months and the results are now published.
Our broadband experience isn’t just down to the Wi-Fi and Ethernet in our homes; it also involves the local networks that run under our roads controlled by local broadband connections from Sure, JT and Newtel and the networks that carry traffic off island further upstream all the way to and from online services such as Netflix and Amazon.
Altogether this is known as the digital supply chain.
The overall conclusion of the study is that the broadband experience in both islands is good for some users but is often poor and sometimes so low that consumers give up trying.
The quality of each part of the digital supply chain is different. However the area which could deliver the biggest improvements to customers is not in customers’ homes or even the local infrastructure but further upstream closer to the content providers themselves.
There may be different reasons for this; It’s possible that the upstream capacity the local service providers have in place to retrieve this content has not kept pace with the demand. It’s also possible that the local service providers have not been managing access to content as well as they might.
Whatever the reason the quality of the broadband experience is not as good as it might be or what it’s capable of.
The study also looked at how different broadband services (Voice over IP like Skype, Netflix and Dropbox) perform. Voice over IP places more even demand on the download and upload broadband capabilities.
Entertainment services like Netflix place a heavier demand on a network’s download capability while Dropbox relies more on upload capability of the broadband network.
The study showed that voice over IP calls with the UK are good and international voice over IP calls are generally okay but the quality is variable. Netflix is normally poor and the Dropbox service can be good but often isn’t.
The study also looked at whether these upload and download services differed across the Channel Islands, between parishes and technologies and the distance of users from the exchange. The study found no material differences between Jersey and Guernsey or between parishes in each island or distance from the exchange.
Fibre technology provided a more consistent broadband quality – comparable to the higher speed VDSL services and both fibre and VDSL provided a better service than copper/ADSL networks. JT’s fibre network gives more consistency in service although there’s only a slight improvement over the mixed copper/fibre network in Guernsey.
CICRA will now work with policy makers and providers to consider further broadband improvements.
You can read the study on the CICRA website: http://www.cicra.gg/_files/2015%20Customer%20Experience%20Study%20-%20Broadband%20Quality%20Study.pdf