Guernsey Press

‘Regulator’s comparison of internet speed is misleading’

Internet speeds published by the Guernsey Competition and Regulatory Authority have been challenged by telecoms companies.

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The GCRA said in an update that the fastest speed available locally was via the Starlink satellite service, but Sure’s head of consumer Mike Fawkner-Corbet said that including this was misleading.

‘It is a niche satellite-based service that the vast majority of properties in Guernsey do not require,’ he said.

‘Sure’s investment, with the States of Guernsey, in fibre broadband is quickly changing the broadband landscape across the island with 60% of properties now able to get fibre and access speeds of up to 2 gigabits per second – double the speed that most UK households can access.’

Sure was listed by the GCRA as providing a speed of 79.1Mbps, the fastest among the three local providers, while Starlink was said to be able to provide 236Mbps.

‘Sure’s fibre broadband plans range from download and upload speeds of 50Mbps to 2Gbps and offer unlimited downloads,’ said Mr Fawkner-Corbet.

Sid Ahlawat, CEO of Guernsey Airtel, was disappointed that the speed given by the GCRA – the lowest of all the results at 61.1Mbps – did not align with Sure’s, ‘despite both companies utilising identical wholesale fibre and copper broadband access from Sure fibre to provide fixed broadband services’.

‘We have formally requested detailed information from the GCRA regarding the procedures, factors affecting broadband speeds considered, and the customer-subscribed broadband speed bandwidth samples used in their test,’ he said.

‘This request is especially pertinent given that all three local telcos offer identical speed bandwidth fibre/copper broadband products,’ he said.

But the figure given by the GCRA was nonetheless noteworthy since ‘a significant portion’ of Airtel’s fixed line customers subscribed to broadband plans that were equal to or less than 40Mbps.

He urged the GCRA to give immediate attention to the concerns raised.

‘Rectifying the disparity in access to prohibitively-priced regulated and non-regulated wholesale services will enable GAL to deliver competitive and fast-speed data experiences to its customers.’

The company’s ability to provide mobile and landline broadband depended on it being able to access various wholesale services, he said, listing five but saying that only two were subject to regulation, leading to an uneven playing field.

A JT spokesman said that while it welcomed the regulator’s initiative to bring broadband speeds into focus, it was important to highlight that those provided were only averages. Its speed was given as 63.5Mbps.

‘If you’ve opted for an option like the 1Gb fibre service, the actual speed you experience will be 1Gb, much higher than these averages suggest,’ the spokesman said.

The overall average was affected if a large number of customers of a provider selected slower speed packages, he added.