Over the past couple of months there appears to have been a rise in complaints from customers of Vodafone’s superfast home broadband (FTTC) packages. Quite a few are reporting slowing speeds, particularly related to problems when trying to use popular video streaming services (Netflix, Twitch etc.).
Until now Vodafone’s support staff have generally insisted there is nothing wrong with the affected lines and instead pointed customers toward a variety of possible causes outside of their own network, with congested local WiFi and router faults being some of their past suggestions (a few people have had their routers replaced or tried a wired connection, without improvement).
Issues like the ones being described on Vodafone’s forum (here), as well as on our site (here), can be caused by all sorts of different things. General network congestion, problems with routing / peering and even issues with Domain Name Servers (DNS) can impact connectivity performance.
In a statement first published today on The Register, Vodafone has now officially blamed the sporadic problem on “some line cards” and stated that the issue only affects a “small number of customers” (note: they have a total fixed broadband customer base of 525,000+).
“We are in the process of upgrading our network configuration and discovered a technical issue with some line cards which means a small number of customers may experience slower speeds when accessing certain sites. This has nothing to do with throttling or traffic management, which we do not use on our broadband service.
We are working hard to fix the issue in order to give any customer affected a great online experience. We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused.”
On a Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) service the line cards generally sit inside one of Openreach’s green street “fibre broadband” cabinets (DSLAMS), although the cards themselves shouldn’t be slow unless there’s a wider issue at work (problems with backhaul capacity or configuration may be a possibility but we’d need to see more detail).
In any case it’s good to know that Vodafone are aware of the problem and working on a fix, even if they’ve been unable to offer any solid ETA for when the problem might be resolved. In the meantime it’s worth noting that Vodafone are also one of the cheapest of the big ISPs for FTTC broadband services.
We note that Vodafone’s two FTTC packages – Superfast 1 (Average speed of 35Mbps) and Superfast 2 (Average speed of 63Mbps) – also offer an “Ultimate Speed Guarantee” feature, which promises customers a guaranteed minimum download speed (i.e. “sync speeds” to the router, not over wifi etc.) of 25Mbps (Superfast 1) and 55Mbps (Superfast 2).
In the event that Vodafone fails to achieve the stated minimum speeds then the ISP says customers could be given a 15% discount (once per month) until the issue is fixed, although this sort of guarantee can become tricky when only specific services are being affected by performance issues that are hard to pin down. The advertising watchdog highlighted a similar problem last year (here).