Why should the signal bandwidth be large

DSL and cable internet : When providers deliver less bandwidth than promised

Many users are familiar with the scenario: the favorite site only loads sparsely, the video stalls, and downloads take forever. Often times the internet connection is too slow. What annoys and makes you angry. After all, the provider promised a higher speed. Defending yourself is not always easy. The providers often advertise with confusing phrases such as "up to 100 Mbit / s". In addition, there are no clear legal regulations. What remains for consumers: They can measure almost exactly how fast their DSL or cable line actually is and complain to the provider with the results.

There are so-called speed tests in abundance on the Internet. This allows users to compare the transmission rate with the provider's promises. Anyone who then wants to confront their provider with lousy test results can also use an offer from the Federal Network Agency on the website www.breitbandmess.de. For a few weeks now, the authority's test has not only been available online, but also as an installable program for the computer. With this, several measurements can be carried out and logged automatically over a longer period of time.

When the service is in conformity with the contract

The Federal Network Agency has defined when, in its opinion, the service of the provider is still in conformity with the contract - and when it is no longer. To find out, the program measures the speed at least ten times on two days. The user must first name his provider and enter his tariff conditions. The data is usually in the contract that the customer once concluded with the company.

It is important that the device with which the user is measuring should be connected with a LAN cable. Those who surf in their own WLAN often have losses due to the distance to the router. In addition, all other devices that are also in the network, such as smartphones, tablets, or game consoles, should be disconnected from the Internet. This is the only way to achieve a truly unadulterated result.

The Federal Network Agency determines whether the measurement result is in conformity with the contract as follows: The user should achieve at least 90 percent of the agreed maximum speed on both test days. But be careful: this is mostly just the maximum possible value. The companies often state in their product sheets what bandwidth the user can normally expect. However, the tester should reach the usual speed in 90 percent of all measurements. In addition, the minimum promised speed must not be undercut during the two test days. These points must be fulfilled, otherwise the service is deemed not to be in accordance with the contract.

In fact, there is a lot of cheating

The Federal Network Agency summarizes the results of the measurements in its annual reports. The insight from the measurement period last year: Customers often did not get the agreed maximum data rate. Across all tariffs and providers, almost 30 percent of the testers did not even reach half of the maximum agreed speed.

There are also big differences between the providers. While every fifth Vodafone customer achieved at least the full 100 percent of the maximum possible speed in the test, it was only about every thirtieth at Telekom. With both providers, a little more than half of the customers achieved 80 percent of the possible maximum speed. With the third large provider, 1 & 1, the values ​​are further below.

Criticism: injustices and measurement errors

The company 1 & 1 again refers to the weaknesses of the measurement process. "The measurements on which the Federal Network Agency's annual report is based were carried out on different connections, which makes a direct comparison difficult," says spokeswoman Kerstin Corea. In addition, it is not taken into account whether the users are still on the Internet with other devices during the test. Nevertheless, the company is accommodating to its customers. "Basically, every customer has the opportunity to test their Internet connection for a month," says Corea. If he is not satisfied, he can terminate his contract within one month.

Telekom also sees the measurements as only of limited significance. “A large part of the measurements of the telecom bandwidths was made on connections in rural regions, while only a few connections were measured there with competitors”, it says. Vodafone asserts that there are only very few customers who are below the guidelines of the Federal Network Agency. And these cases are often due to exceptions, such as network failures.

Consumer rights are unclear

So what can customers do if their measurement result is lower? First of all, talk to the provider and ask for improvements. Because the measurement itself would not automatically result in legal consequences for the consumer, says Thomas Bradler, a lawyer at the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer center. Because these are service contracts, the rights of consumers are not always clear and in line with their interests. "We as a consumer association would like to see clear rights for consumers here," says Bradler. These could, for example, stipulate that the customer may reduce the price or immediately switch to another tariff.

Ultimately, the consumer is often only able to terminate the contract in a regular manner. Then he would have to look for a new provider. The only difference is that he does not necessarily get the bandwidth he wants from this. The Federal Network Agency therefore suggests that those affected should first contact the previous provider with the measurement results. "If no solution can be found in this way, consumers can turn to the Federal Network Agency again," says spokesman Michael Reifenberg. Then the authorities get in touch with the respective provider again.

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