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Good news for consumers this morning as Virgin Media have announced plans to boost broadband speeds for their top tier package up to 152Mb - twice as fast as BT's current speediest package.

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It turns out that Virgin weren't just spending their money on paying David Tennant to look dead behind the eyes as he hawks their products. They were actually improving technology too.

In what was an inevitable move as broadband technologies improve, the upgrade will apparently be "instantly" available - with 120Mb customers getting the 152Mb upgrade, 60Mb users getting boosted to 100Mb and 30Mb users getting 50Mb - the latter of which, Virgin notes, makes their entry level package apparently five times faster than the lowest grade BT or Sky Broadband connection.

More broadly this is more than likely good news for everyone - its a move like this that will re-energise the arms race between broadband providers. Don't be surprised if BT, Sky and others announce corresponding speed boosts in the near future.

lovejoy.pngThe other big news from Virgin today is that they've officially launched their implementation of the government's controversial Daily Mail-approved internet filter programme, and announced it complete with glowing quote from culture secretary Helen Lovejoy Maria Miller. Sure, it is a stunningly illiberal and draconian measure that will stigmatise people who want to access non-government approved content, but won't somebody please think of the children?. The option to enable the filters will apparently be offered to customers when setting up their broadband.

Let's wait and see if Richard Branson remains quite so happy if during the next civil unrest (like the riots) the government lean on him and other internet providers to block Facebook for everyone, now the technology to make it possible is in place.

Still... 152Mb is pretty good, right? Let's just hope you can actually access what you want with it.

DSCF3828.JPGThe BT HomeHub 4 is BT's latest home broadband router, a significant redesign of the workhorse that was the HomeHub 3, adding a new slim design to the series and bringing dual-band connectivity to the table. And though BT have rained on the HomeHub 4's parade a tad by following up its release almost immediately with the announcement of the HomeHub 5, this is still an impressive evolution of the company's router line. We've been using the router for a few days now. Read on for Tech Digest's first impressions.

The HomeHub 4, though longer than the HomeHub 3, actually proves easier to house thanks to its slimmer profile. It's as flat as its innards will allow, whereas the HomeHub 3 featured a more curvaceous design. In practical terms, it means the HomeHub 4 can fit through a letterbox, meaning new owners won't have to be indoors when the postman arrives to deliver it.

Gone too is the HomeHub 3's glossy finish. A matte textured front plate takes its place, with a little silver strip adding some flair along the bottom. Also improved is the placement of the Wireless WPS and Restart buttons. They now sit along the top edge, clear to see and easier to reach than the near-hidden buttons on the HomeHub 3. As the thinner profile of the HomeHub 4 means the device is no longer free standing, two fold out feet are attached to the bottom, letting the router stand upright.
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Flip the router over and you'll find the Broadband DSL port for connecting a DSL modem, alongside three standard Ethernet ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, WAN port, USB port for adding a networked drive, adapter power port and a the on/off button. All in, it's a tidy, unobtrusive design.

New subscribers to BT Broadband or BT Infinity will get the router as standard, though BT are also offering the HomeHub 4 as a £35 upgrade for existing customers. So what's here to tempt owners of the HomeHub 3 to part with their cash?
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Under the hood, the HomeHub 4 is sporting notably improved connectivity options. Dual-band Wi-Fi is the headline feature, offering both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands for your wireless devices to connect to. Though it'd be remiss to call the HomeHub 3 unreliable, dual-band Wi-Fi greatly improves the stability of Wi-Fi connections, especially when many Wi-Fi devices are connected at once, by effectively splitting your network in two, pushing some devices onto one band and the rest onto the other. Keeping devices nearby the router on the stronger 5GHz signal and devices further away on the 2.4GHz band (which offers better range), the router is able to channel hop for devices, giving them the best possible connections dependant on where they are and reducing the chances of interference.
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Under casual testing, the HomeHub 4 indeed seems to offer improved performance over the outgoing HomeHub 3. Connecting a Retina MacBook Pro over Wi-Fi on the HomeHub 4 (which sometimes suffered from slow Wi-Fi speeds when a distance away from the router, even with a fibre Infinity connection) and using the 5GHz band, there was a significant speed boost. Also, an iPad which sometimes suffered from Wi-Fi dropout when in use in bed kept a consistent connection with the new router.

It is, admittedly, not a huge difference over the HomeHub 3, which we had few issues with to being with. But Wi-Fi stability can differ greatly across properties, so it's worth considering if your HomeHub 3 is struggling to deliver a signal around your home.

A great upgrade for newcomers to BT's service then, but current HomeHub 3 owners may want to wait for the HomeHub 5 - offering 802.11ac and combining the router and modem in one box, it's set to offer greater speeds in (when you take the current standalone modem into account) a far more compact package.

bt-home-hub-4.jpgUPDATE: BT's pricing for the 300Mbps service has been revealed. At just £50 a month, with no traffic management or download cap, that's not bad at all. 20Mbps upload speeds will also be included. Existing customers on FTTP packages will be able to upgrade to get 300Mbps broadband by subscribing to the £50 a month Unlimited package. Those in range of BT's 50 FTTP exchanges will be able to make the jump to the superfast speeds.

BT yesterday revealed that they will be launching the new and improved HomeHub 5 router - during the same event they were promoting the soon-to-ship dual-band HomeHub 4 model!

The fifth generation of BT's router will support the latest 802.11 ac Wi-Fi protocol, allowing for faster, more stable connections, as well as a full raft of Gigabit Ethernet ports for speedy wired connections around the home.

HomeHub 5 will also combine the router and the modem into a single unit - a first for BT's kit - meaning one less plug socket will be needed to power the service.

Those differences aside, the design remains the same as that of the HomeHub 4, pictured above, with a single indicator light displaying network status.

The HomeHub 5, expected to become available later this year, is being designed by BT as "the perfect partner" to another brand new offering from the company - 300Mbps Infinity fibre broadband.

300mbps speeds from BT have been being tested for a little while now, though the news that BT will be making them commercially available before the year is out comes as a bit of a surprise. BT state that over 100,000 premises (which will require a direct fibre-to-the-premises connection) will be able to take advantage of the service. However, there's yet to be any exact roll-out date given, nor any indication of what price to expect to pay. It's likely to be the reserve of small businesses, given the premium fibre connections already command.

As for the router, it'll be available to all new Infinity customers at launch, as well as being available to those signing up for a new contract with BT. BT also promise to make it available on the high street, and state that prices will be competitive compared to similarly capable kit.


TalkTalkBusiness.pngSponsored post

Many small and medium sized businesses find themselves in a tricky situation today. They need to expand their IT and communications offerings, but don't have the technical staff or the expertise to achieve this.

One reason for this is that it can be very  expensive acquiring IT and communications solutions - not good news especially at times when budgets are tight.

However, help is at hand in the form of hosted solutions - also known as cloud computing. In a little over half a decade, demand for hosted solutions has spawned a multi-billion pound, rapid-growth industry. 

Inspired by the launch of Amazon Web Service in 2006, a multitude of providers have brought cloud-based offerings to market in the UK. IDC expects global turnover to rise from £13.6 billion in 2010 to £46.3 billion in 2015, at a growth rate of 27.6%, while indirect income from the cloud is forecast to total £700 billion per annum within four years, supporting 14 million jobs worldwide

One provider that is offering an innovative new hosted solution is UK communications provider Talk Talk Business. It is working with businesses by offering them a suite of Business Grade Hosted Solutions that gives them the features and functionality their business needs, without them having to purchase equipment and technology. The offerings are scaleable too, so as a business grows, or even contracts, so can the depth of the solutions.

Talk Talk Business is fulfilling this demand with a service that provides a Hosted Data Centre, Call Centre and Call Recording - all designed to make life for SME business owners significantly easier while enabling them to keep better control over IT and comms costs.

Take the Data Centre - it is a scalable solution that can easily expand in-line with a business' hosting needs. Talk Talk Business believes that it dramatically reduces connectivity expenses while at the same time ensuring that the business owner is secure in the knowledge that they are using an innovative data centre infrastructure that uses the latest technology and is protected by the highest security standards.

Talk Talk Business is also offering a Hosted Contact Centre which is controlled by Talk Talk. So there's no additional equipment that the business has to invest in. It is a solution that enables business owners to make informed decisions, route calls efficiently and manage different sites and remote workers - wherever they are.

As part of its Business Grade Hosted Solutions Talk Talk also offers Hosted Call Recording, and Hosted Unified Communications too.

So if you are looking for an innovative, inexpensive and highly effective comms and IT offering then contact Talk Talk.

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John_Lewis_Oxford_Street.jpgJohn Lewis are looking to grab a larger share of the UK broadband market by offering 6 months free broadband with every sale of web-connected devices.

That includes obvious web-connected devices like laptops and tablets, alongside Smart TVs and eReaders. In fact, buying a £69 Kindle is one of the cheapest ways to get in on the John Lewis deal. John Lewis will also send out a free preconfigured router (no postage fees apply), as part of the offer.

There's a few caveats. Firstly, you'll have to sign up for a minimum 12 month broadband contract (effectively giving you a year's worth of broadband at half price), and those looking to leave before that term is up will have to pay a standard termination fee.

John Lewis will be offering an "unlimited broadband" package, costing £31.50 a month once that 6-month period is up, not subject to any traffic shaping. There's also a 38Mbps fibre option at £38.50 a month, with a 100GB monthly limit and a little traffic management. All packages require a BT-compatible line or you'll need to pay £50 to have one installed (John Lewis broadband is supplied by BT-owned Plusnet). The entry package Standard Broadband deal costs from £24.50 per month on a 12-month deal (£11 broadband, £13.50 line rental and calls) and offers up to 16Mb speeds, capped to 20GB monthly usage.

"We're going to sell millions of devices over the next year that connect to the internet, and we want to give some value back to every single one of those customers," Adam Brown, the company's buyer for tablets and telecoms told Tech Digest.

"In much the same way as when you buy a TV you get a five year guarantee from us at no extra cost, we're looking to add that principle to our broadband offering."

With broadband penetration in the UK hovering around the 80% mark, many of John Lewis' customers will already be set up with an ISP. So who's this aimed towards?

"Anyone who hasn't had a good service, anyone who hasn't had a good call centre experience, anyone who feels like they aren't getting any accountability from their current provider; those guys will see the value of coming to us," said Brown.

"Also, anyone who doesn't already have broadband equipment, we can set them up, and anyone who is perhaps a little scared of technology and the internet, as we'll take the time to help them understand what it is and what it does. Perhaps older customers too."

Brown also hinted at further tech deals from John Lewis being offered later in the year, rewarding those who stay loyal to the brand, though wasn't in a position to share details yet. With online retailers chasing bottom line pricing, this 21st Century spin on John Lewis' commendable customer services seems the veritable retailer's natural direction to take.

4GEE Taxis - Westminster Bridge 4.JPGYou may not be able to get 4G speeds on your mobile where you live just yet (check here to see if you can) but one place where it's guaranteed is in the back of these distinctly coloured cabs in London and Birmingham.

Launched yesterday was a fleet of 50 4G enabled hackney carriages offering 4G to passengers across London and Birmingham courtesy of EE. Each car has been given a hi-tech makeover and fitted with a state-of-the-art MiFi wireless router that acts as a mobile 4G hotspot connecting the cabs to the UK's only superfast 4G network.

Says Spencer McHugh, Director of Brand, EE said: "The first motorised black cabs hit the streets in 1901, nearly 70 years before the first smartphone was available to consumers, now we are bringing this icon of British transport into the 21st century with a 4G make-over.

"We hope this trial will demonstrate the benefits of a superior online experience as users can browse, download, catch up on emails, Tweet and check Facebook literally at the speed of light. We can't make taxi journeys any faster but we can certainly speed up people's smartphones!"

The free 4G service will be available for three months with 40 traditional Hackney carriages in London and 10 in Birmingham decked out with the state-of-the-art technology.

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hyperoptic-broadband.jpgLooking for a new, superfast broadband provider? Then you may want to check out Hyperoptic, who look set to shake up the UK broadband market by offering packages with speeds as fast as one gigabit per second.

Already offering 20Mbps and 100The Telegraph.

The speeds allow for HD movies to be downloaded in seconds, and large digital gaming downloads to be completed within a few short minutes.

Even if you are in an area served by Hyperoptic, the fast speeds don't come cheaply - you're looking at about £50 a month for the one gigabit speeds.

Does anyone need broadband that fast yet?

"You might not need one gigabit now, but history shows people will use it as time goes on," said managing director Dana Tobak.

"I wouldn't pretend there is a need for a gigabit, but there isn't a need for a Ferrari either."

Tobak was previously co-founder of Be Un Limited broadband, the first provider in the UK to offer connection speeds of 24Mbps. It was bought by O2 back in 2006, and now forms part of the service acquired by Sky earlier this month.

For more on Hyperoptic broadband, and the availability of 1Gbps speeds in your area, click here.

bt-scilly.jpgBT have committed to bringing superfast broadband connections to the UK's Isles of Scilly by 2014. Calling it the "the most ambitious UK project ever undertaken to bring fastest broadband speeds to a remote community", the project is part of BT's £132 million Superfast Cornwall scheme, bringing top-notch internet speeds to one of the most beautiful, yet remote, corners of the country.

The Isles of Scilly, home to 2,200 residents, will be connected up to BT's fibre-optic network using dormant cabling that is currently sitting on the bed of the Atlantic ocean. The disused fibre-optic cabling had previously been used to aid communications between the UK, Ireland and Spain. Repurposing the cabling will cost £3.7 million, and will require a purpose-built ship that is able to cut and move the cabling to its new home.

Ranulf Scarbrough, Superfast Cornwall programme director for BT said: "The remote location of the Isles of Scilly, their wonderful maritime heritage and scientific and environmental status will present a variety of unique engineering challenges. Environmentally, it is excellent news that we are able to breathe new life into existing cables which are no longer used, but still in very good condition."

At present, residents of the five inhabited islands currently only get internet access through a radio signal sent from Land's End, 28 miles away. The new network will allow for BT's superfast Infinity service to reach homes, offering up speeds in excess of 40Mbps.

Sign-Ban01.pngFollowing on from the mandatory blocking of The Pirate Bay, UK ISPs BT, Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, O2 and EE will soon be forced to block websites Kickass Torrents (kat.ph), H33T and Fenopy.

Continuing the UK government's clampdown on websites that facilitate the sharing of pirated media, High Court judge Mr Justice Arnold said the sites in question had profited from the unlawful distribution of games, music and movies "on an industrial scale".

With none of the ISPs contesting the court order, it's expected that the websites will very soon be inaccessible to customers subscribing to broadband packages from the above companies.

When The Pirate Bay was ordered to be blocked by ISPs, many ISPs demanded a court order be put in place before they'd do so, after refusing to make the sites inaccessible voluntarily. It seems that with a court order already in place here, the ISPs were not in a position to contest the ruling.

Those looking to continue to use the websites for legal means will have to either sign up for an alternative ISP, or look for one of the inevitable proxy websites that will spring up in the wake of the announcement.

sky-broadband.jpgBig broadband news coming out of the Sky stable today. They've just bought both O2 and BE Broadband for the actually-quite-reasonable sum of £200 million, boosting their subscriber base up to 4.7 million homes. That make's them the second-biggest ISP in the UK now, with 200,000 users more than Virgin Media, but still trailing behind BT's 6.6 million customers.

Sky until now had been merely a middling broadband player, but this move is quite the conscious effort to push them into the big leagues, in a deal that's pretty much pocket money for the entertainment empire anyway.

As for O2 parent company Telefónica, it looks as though they're looking to trim some fat after the costly UK 4G auction ahead of the superfast network's roll-out.

O2 and BE Broadband's current customers shouldn't be too concerned. Sky's broadband satisfaction rankings solid, so few if any should see any major changes to their service.


Virgin Media logo.jpgSponsored post

The best and most modern broadband is that which is wireless. In an age where not just your computer, but your phone, tablet and laptop are all connected to the internet, getting the right wireless broadband is essential.

Yet you still need a decent connection. If you have a poor connection coming in, it doesn't matter how good your wireless service is. There is where you should look for the likes of Virgin fibre optic broadband, to give you the best of all these options.

The perfect deal

The main appeal of Virgin broadband, besides the high speed internet access itself, is that it allows you to mix and match deals to suit your needs. If you're after fast, wireless options, for instance, these are all easily customisable. Likewise if you're after TV and other Virgin Media options; it can all be added together to make one package designed around you. To compare broadband, find out more or see what else is on offer, look at their website.

Going wireless

The benefit of Virgin broadband is that it gives you access to all Virgin's addition quality services. Broadband options start from just £17.50 a month, which gives you access to the Virgin super hub. This little router is what gives you the best service; it takes the high speed broadband you expect and converts into a strong wireless signal that benefits the whole house.

The wireless signal allows more devices to access the router and, thus, the internet. If you have various devices to connect, and are paying for larger bandwidth to accommodate this, then this is something you'll want. Being able to save on messy cables is an added bonus, too.

Speed

Virgin broadband is available in three speeds; those of up to 30mb, those of up to 60mb and those reaching 100mb. Of course, it helps to know which is right for you. Whilst 30mb will suffice for a couple of people, families or more internet-dependant households may need 60mb to cope with the extra data traffic. If you want the very best, then you want to opt for the 100mb packages available.

All this can still be customised with the other options available, meaning you can easily take the fast connection you want and combine it with wireless broadband from Virgin. With further offers available, such as getting your first 6 months free, you can make the package even more tempting.

The end result, of course is getting the right internet for your home. With the option to choose from different speeds and wireless internet, as well as additional extras, it's a tailor-made service that gives you exactly what you're looking for, rather than charging you for extras you're not going to use.


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bt-infinity-top.jpgCrack open the bubbly - the BT Infinity fibre-optic broadband service is set to go truly unlimited, with the telecoms giant announcing that it will be cutting frustrating fair use policies and traffic management restrictions.

BT, like most other internet providers, had used traffic management and fair use policies to contain users hogging the network's bandwidth by downloading huge files or tapping into peer-to-peer networks. These restrictions have now been lifted, letting BT's fibre-optic broadband customers use the network's superfast speeds to their full potential.

The move comes in response to requests from BT's customers, who felt their catch-up TV and video streaming was being hamstrung by the caps and limits.

Sweetening the deal even further is the announcement that BT will be lowering the price of its Infinity packages. The BT Infinity 1 broadband package now costs £23 a month while BT Infinity 2 costs £26 a month.

John Petter, managing director of BT's consumer division, said the company felt "confident" its network would be able to stand up to the hammering heavy users will now put the service through, not to mention the influx of new users the announcement is likely to bring.

BT have also laid down the gauntlet for their competitors, who will now likely feel increased pressure from their own customers to drop fair use policies and traffic management.

netflix-slim.jpgWondering which internet service provider is the best when it comes streaming movies? According to Netflix, based on findings gleaned from connections to their own movie and TV show streaming service, Virgin Media come out on top.

Comparing speed stats from millions of Netflix members, the company found Virgin Media's average speed for streams to be 2.16Mbps, with O2's home broadband in second with a 2.03Mbps speed and BT just behind in third place with 2.02Mbps.

When it comes to mobile networks, it's a closely run race, with O2 and Vodafone both offering 0.51Mbps, with Everything Everywhere (despite EE's super-fast 4G service) and Three trailing a little behind at 0.49Mbps. See all the results in the chart below:netflix-reveals-top-isps.jpg"These ratings reflect the average performance of all Netflix streams on each ISP," reads the Netflix blog.

"The average is well below the peak performance due to many factors, including home wi-fi, the variety of devices our members use, and the variety of encodes we use to deliver the TV shows and movies we carry.

"Those factors cancel out when comparing across ISPs, so these relative rankings are a good indicator of the consistent performance typically experienced across all users on an ISP network and a great way to see which ISPs offer the best Netflix experience."

Netflix plan to update the list on a month-by-month basis, keeping you up to speed with which provider offers the best streaming service, and offering ISPs seen to be dragging their heels the opportunity to up their game.

We all remember our most inspirational teachers, and clearly Tim Groves is one of them. In  a career spanning 36 years the Norfolk Primary School teacher has seen some huge changes in the way children are taught, and he loves exploring the educational opportunities that technology brings. Among the new ways of inspiring his pupils in the classroom, Mr Groves uses the internet to help them engage with the world and collaborate with their class mates. Mr Groves has, for example, recently used the excitement surrounding the Olympics to inspire collaboration among his pupils.


With BT Compute every pupil and teacher has a single sign that allows them to safely and securely access their school desktop from any device, at any time, from anywhere. With such a simple system, schools benefit from fantastic learning facilities, and the council can cut costs and boost efficiency, helping to focus resources where they are needed most. You can see how Tim uses the technology in the YouTube video below:







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fibre_optic-head.jpgResidents of Chelsea hoping to get fibre optic internet access from BT have had their hopes dashed, as Chelsea Council have vetoed plans for BT to roll out superfast fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband, stating that new larger cabinets needed to deliver the service where too "ugly" to be placed on their posh streets.

32,000 customers and businesses would have received a substantial jump in potential broadband speeds, but council action has forced BT to abandon plans as work could not be completed without updating 96 of the boroughs 108 street cabinet to larger FTTC-equipped units.

As it stands, BT can offer no alternative. BT explained: "We can't put them underground as the cabinets contain sensitive electronics which would be affected when the chambers flood, as they frequently do. Also, whilst we can make the cabinets smaller they would serve fewer houses and thus more of them would be needed."

It's not all doom-and-gloom for the mega-rich residents of Chelsea. Broadband infrastructure in the area is already equipped to offer the majority of residents 16Mbps connections (far higher than the national average of 4.9Mbps), while Virgin's fibre cables already serve "virtually the whole borough".

Plus, they can always go for a swim in their pools of money.

Via: Telegraph

TalkTalkAd1.jpgInternet service provider TalkTalk has today switched on their new porn-filtering system, meaning that all new customers to their service will have to specifically request access to X-rated, adult content.

By default, TalkTalk's HomeSafe filter will automatically block access to any website that features pornography, gambling, violence and drug-use, meaning that any new TalkTalk users who require access to such content will first have to "opt-in" through a highly embarrassing call to customer services.

Customers will also have to reconfirm their opt-in choice once a year, just to rub salt in the wounds.

However, TalkTalk see the move as merely a pre-emptive one, believing that the governments plans to use ISP filters as default will come around sooner rather than later.

Some industry experts see the move as just a few short steps short of censorship.

"We welcome a consultation but default filternets are awful," said Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group.

"They block a wide range of innocent material; and nobody should be advocating broader and simpler censorship."

Via: Metro

packshot-dlan-500-avmini-uk-sk-packshot.jpgreview-line.JPGName: Devolo dLAN 500 AVmini - Starter Kit

Type: Powerline networking homeplug kit

Specs: Click here for full specs

Price: £99.99 from Amazon

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Devolo's dLAN 500 AVmini powerline networking starter kit boats superfast, reliable internet speeds over your electrical wiring, effectively knocking out wireless blackspots. However, stability and speed come with a fairly high asking price attached. Does Devolo's latest kit perform well enough to justify the cost? Read on to find out!

review-line.JPGFor all the convenience a wireless internet connection brings, in many cases they also come with a fair helping of frustration too. Whether it's a signal blackspot or significantly reduced speeds, getting the most out of your internet connection over Wi-Fi can be a struggle. Where once the only alternative was to feed unsightly Ethernet cabling around your house to combat the problem, powerline networking kits, like the Devolo dLAN 500 AVmini starter kit reviewed here, are a far more elegant solution.

The powerline kit works by plugging a homeplug adaptor into a wall power socket near your internet router, and linking the two together over an Ethernet cable. A second homeplug adaptor is plugged into the wall near where you want to be able to pick up a stronger internet connection, delivered to your device of choice over a second Ethernet cable. The internet connection is then sent down the electrical wiring of your house, bridging the gap between the router and your internet-accessing device, offering speeds near-identical to those that you'd get from a connection directly wired to your router. Extra cabling is kept to an absolute minimum, while you're left to enjoy a stable, speedy internet connection.

The Devolo dLAN 500 AVmini starter kit is one the best powerline networking solutions we've so far seen. For starters, it supports incredible connection speeds of up to 500Mbps, and while there are few (if any) households in the UK that can boast such broadband speeds, all will enjoy significant improvements when compared to a Wi-Fi connection. On our test home broadband connection (which averages out at around the 19Mbps mark when connected directly to our router) we never saw speeds drop below 18Mbps with the Devolo kit, an improvement of as much as 25% over the speed of our best Wi-Fi connection. Faster connections will easily be able to serve multiple HDTV streams and even 3D movies with the kit.

It's a shame that the 500 AVmini plugs experience a slight drop in performance when plugged into an 4-way extension plug bar. For the best performance, you're going to want to plug the gear directly into a wall socket if possible. Thankfully, the slim build of the homeplugs compared to rival offerings mean that they should be able to slip discretely into some relatively tight spaces regardless.
image-picture-dlan-500-avmini-eu-sk-livingroom.jpgSet up is incredibly simple too. Though a software installation CD comes included with the set's two homeplugs (as well as two short Ethernet cables), it really is a "plug-in-and-play" product, meaning connecting all the wires up to a PC, smart TV or games console and your router at the other end is all that's needed to get things up and running. If you do opt to install the included software CD, you'll be able to configure the homeplugs to prioritize certain types of traffic, such as VoIP or video streaming, handy if more than one person is using the network at once. It's worth mentioning that if you already own older Devolo 200 AV adapters they'll work alongside this newer kit without a hiccup too.

Setting up security features is just as simple. "Push button security" enables 128-bit AES hardware encryption, making it incredibly easy to protect the information travelling around your network.

Lastly, power consumption is also incredibly low. Keeping in mind that it's likely you'll rarely unplug the adaptors or switch them off, the fact that they draw just 0.5 watts when in standby mode will be a welcome one when it comes time to face your electricity bill.

If there's one issue to be had with the Devolo dLAN 500 AVmini starter kit, it's the price. While the slim design and high potential connection speeds are a bonus, there are cheaper options that will deliver performance that will be more than suitable for the average user. Only those really keeping a close eye on the minute fluctuations of the fastest broadband speeds will see every benefit on offer here.

review-line.JPGVerdict

We're big advocates of powerline networking at Tech Digest, and this latest offering from Devolo is among the best we've tried. With a low footprint in terms of both physical size and power consumption, paired with the stability and speed of internet connection that the dLAN 500 AVmini plugs offer, we cant recommend them highly enough.

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5/5
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A 10-month trail to see the viability of using white spaces to carry broadband connectivity to rural parts of Britain has been deemed a success by the TV White Spaces Consortium, which includes companies like the BBC, Microsoft, BT and Virgin Media.

White spaces (the interference found when unused radio spectrums are present) is seen as a superb alternative to expensive fibre optic connections in rural areas. The trials have found that there is "significant television white spaces capacity" for carrying rural broadband, with 20 white spaces channels equal to 160 MHz in total. 13 of the channels use 104MHz.

Speed hit 8Mbps, enough for "passable" Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity, showing that the white spaces are more than useable, if in need of refinement, lagging behind regular broadband connectivty.

"I welcome the success to date of the Cambridge White Spaces Trial," said ommunications minister Ed Vaizey.

"Leading innovators from the UK and beyond have demonstrated the potential that television white spaces can have for meeting the UK's broadband needs. Developments such as this endorse the leadership position that the UK can take in enabling more efficient use of spectrum by opening up an array of opportunities for wireless applications for consumers and businesses alike."

NetflixLogo.jpgThe Netflix app is to be rolled out to all 2012 BRAVIA, Blu-ray and Blu-ray Home Theatre models featuring the Sony Entertainment Network.

Netflix will sit alongside other popular third party services on the Sony Entertainment Network including YouTube and BBC News, as well as Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited.

"We're very excited about the addition of Netflix to our SEN portfolio" said Edd Uzzell, Sony category development manager.

"All of our consumer products - whether that is a BRAVIA, VAIO, Tablet or Xperia - are designed to provide the best quality content possible, and having great content providers offers consumers greater choice for their home cinema experience."

"Adding Netflix to the Sony Entertainment Network, gives consumers an even broader choice of devices to instantly watch unlimited TV programmes and films streamed over the Internet," said Greg Peters, vice president of product development at Netflix.

"We're always looking to provide people with new ways to enjoy Netflix."

For more details please visit sony.co.uk or netflix.com/netflixreadydevices

john-lewis-pic1-earlyrider-dot-com.jpg
John Lewis have entered the broadband services market, offering a branded broadband service either instore, online or over the phone.

Three separate packages are being offered; Standard, Unlimited and Fibre. Speeds range from (up to) 16MB to (up to) 38MB, with monthly data allowances coming in at 20GB for the standard package, 100GB for Fibre subscribers and no cap to the Unlimited package.

Subscribers will also need to grab a John Lewis telephone line rental (which obviously adds its own charges)

Therefore the Standard package costs £11 as a standalone broadband charge, but £24.50 with line rental. Unlimited packages start at £31.50. Both of these services come with 16MB speeds.

The Fibre plan starts as £38.50 per month, and will hit maximum speeds of 38MB.

"This move complements the range of services and products we offer - over 80 per cent of all our consumer electronics sales are WiFi enabled and we know our customers want the same honest and trustworthy experience from their internet provision as they would expect from any product they buy from us," said John Lewis Telecoms Manager Adam Brown.

"John Lewis broadband gives customers an upfront and transparent price on a range of broadband and phone packages with no hidden terms and conditions, a simple 12 month contract with no hidden catches and the excellent customer service that we are renowned for."

The new John Lewis Broadband replaces the previous Waitrose and Greenbee services. Any customers on those plans are encouraged to jump over to the new deals.

For more info on the John Lewis broadband deals, click here.

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