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October 9, 2012

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Most who pay extra for broadband don't get speed they are promised

MOST broadband users in the city paying for faster bandwidth are not enjoying the speed promised by broadband service providers, a Shanghai Daily investigation shows.

Shanghai's consumer protection commission received 3,618 complaints about broadband access between January and September, accounting for about 5 percent of the total number of complaints.

Many involved slow broadband speed, frequent disconnections and the gap between actual speed and the speed claimed by service providers, the commission said. The city's consumer rights hotline, 12315, got 72 complaints on Internet service over the eight-day National Day holiday, 60 percent more than the same period last year.

"The terrible network speed has bothered me for several months, and it is difficult for me to watch a live streaming video online," complained Song Jingjing, a Shanghai resident living in suburban Jiading District.

Song paid 776 yuan (US$113) for a one-year contract with a speed upgrade after moving to Jiading District and subscribing with Jiading Cable TV Center three months ago.

The company promised bandwidth of 4 megabytes, which equals to about 512 kilobytes per second, she said. But the actual speed usually remained some 300 kilobytes per second, far less than what the company advertised, said Song.

She said she used speed-testing websites and found the speed she expected was not delivered.

"It is even as low as 120 kilobytes during busy hours at night," she said, adding that she would not renew the contract when it expired next year.

Network blockages, a proliferation of subcontractors and limited broadband resources are blamed for slow speed and unstable connections, an official with the Shanghai Communications Administration said.

Netizens also experience problems not related to speed, such as some websites being blocked or servers of some sites such as popular online video providers not being able to support a large number of people accessing the site at the same time.

But, also, small agents that bought bandwidth from big telecommunication companies such as China Telecom and China Unicom sometimes sell it to a large number of users, which would also slow the speed as users shared access, said the administration official, who declined to be named.

If an agent bought 100 megabytes a time, there would be a big difference if it is sold to 10 households or to 100 households and many users accessed it at the same time, he said.


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