Germans have a reputation for technical prowess. You’d expect the operators there to be technically superior in delivering what they promised when they sold broadband service. But it appears that they have not been so, according to a New York Times report.
A government study released Thursday supports what many German consumers have long suspected: Internet broadband service is much slower than advertised.
The study by the German telecommunications regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, measured the Internet connection speeds of 250,000 consumers from June through December last year, making it one of the largest reviews of broadband service anywhere.
The results showed that only 15.7 percent of those using fixed telephone lines and 21 percent using mobile devices achieved the advertised maximum speeds.
Having studied the issue for several years, we at LIRNEasia know that an operator cannot guarantee precise performance levels on mobile networks, because the number of users on a BTS is not something they can control (as described below, by a representive of an operator). So the real surprise was the relatively better performance over mobile networks. We agree that a single parameter is not practical and that performance would have to be promised in terms of a range.
Philipp Blank, a Deutsche Telekom spokesman in Bonn, said technical reasons prevented operators from guaranteeing a specific broadband speed to each customer. The quality of a land-line connection is influenced by the length of the copper wire from a home to the phone junction box in the street, with longer connections leading to slower speeds, he said.
With mobile broadband, the level of traffic flowing over a single base station can significantly affect individual performance. Deutsche Telekom gives each customer a “very narrow range” of their expected broadband speed based on an analysis of local wiring, and consumers can void newly signed contracts for two weeks without penalty if they are unsatisfied, Mr. Blank said.
“For physical and technical reasons, we simply have to offer customers some kind of range of speeds in our tariffs,” Mr. Blank said.