MPs to investigate Britain's broadband speeds

The Digital Britain report, published earlier this month, proposed that all homes would have access to broadband speeds of at least 2Mbps by 2012.

Now for a country that has Virgin advertising up to 50Mb via their cable network and O2 advertising up to 20Mb on the existing phone-line network that doesn’t really sound very ambitious. It seems that some MPs may also be thinking just that.

So, MPs who work in the Commons Business and Enterprise Committee are to open an inquiry into broadband speeds in the UK. They will also look into whether the proposed 50p broadband tax is fair or not – the charge would be added monthly to anyone with a fixed telephone line.

Their concern is that by not aiming higher, the UK will fall behind the rest of the world in terms of broadband speeds. This handy chart courtesy of the BBC shows just how far we are behind already:


Even the French are beating us – sacre bleu. Also, South Korea has set a target of a minimum of 1Gbps for all homes. That kind of blows our target out of the water.

(via BBC)

BT hits back in iPlayer throttling row


You may remember last week, we published a post regarding BT’s apparent throttling of its users broadband connections. Well, the telecom giant has hit back, going public with its condemnation of online video services like the BBC’s iPlayer and YouTube.

Basically this is how the row has unfolded: The BBC releases a story accusing BT of slowing down broadband connections at peak time – to less than 1Mbps between 5pm and midnight – when users should be getting up to 8Mbps. BT responds by sending an email to BBC Radio 4 programme You and Yours stating that content providers “can’t expect to continue to get a free ride”. They also go public with this stance.

The Beeb have responded today, via their blog, saying that BT’s move was a “forthright call for cash” and that the row could end with net neutrality becoming obsolete.

What this means is that ISPs, who currently make no differentiation between types of internet traffic, could begin to charge content providers for their output, particularly bandwidth hoggers like the iPlayer.

The row illustrates how much the net has evolved over the last few years. With the mass introduction of high-bandwidth streaming service like the iPlayer, Spotify, YouTube and the like, the pressure on ISPs to provide a fast and consistent service to their users has increased dramatically.

Lord Carter’s Digital Britain review is due next week and should call for broadband at high speeds and low prices. It might just be that content providers are going to have to come to a compromise with the ISPs to make that happen.

Whatever the outcome, the end users should not be the ones who are penalised. If an ISP advertises up to 8Mbps broadband with unlimited data allowance then that is exactly what they should provide. They shouldn’t promote a service if they are going to struggle to provide it.

(via The FT)

Average UK broadband speed is 3.6Mbps – and you're probably only getting half the speed you're paying for


Ofcom, the communications watchdog that’s in charge of making sure everyone’s phones work and no one’s getting ripped off too badly by the ring tone companies, has revealed the results of a massive survey it conducted into the UK broadband scene.

As you might expect, we’re not getting what we pay for – as anyone who spends most of their evenings conducting broadband speed tests and sighing at the results will already know…

The HTC Max 4G – the world's first 4G mobile with WiMAX technology for 70-megabit downloads


And here we are still trying to think of a reason for 3G to exist.

The HTC Max 4G is the first so-called 4G mobile, thanks to HTC’s technicians incorporating WiMAX technology inside a very similar package to its Touch HD – and therefore giving theoretical, network-permitting, mountains and trees-permitting, battery-permitting maximum download speeds of around 70Mb per second…

Ofcom: 50MBit broadband in every home "possible" using only copper wires


Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, has come out and said that it reckons nearly every home in the UK could hypothetically have 50MBit/s broadband in the future using copper wire, negating the need to put a fibre-optic line into every single home.

This sounds great – the only caveat is though that it sounds like it needs a hell of a lot of work to become a reality. Apparently it based this assertion on an “idealised situation” where all of the right kit is in place and everything works as planned. So it’s a bit like saying that in the future we’ll all be wearing silver and driving flying cars – probable, but requiring massive technological changes in every part of the industry…

Virgin Media's broadband speed claims misled the public, ASA rules


A recent advertising campaign for Virgin Media’s broadband packages has been deemed misleading to the public, because it didn’t make its traffic management policies plain enough.

BT complained about Virgin Media’s “hate to wait” campaign, which claimed it possible to download a half-hour TV show in under 26 minutes on their “up to 2Mbps” ‘M’ package. The size of the TV show used in the ad was 341MB, which exceeds the 300MB peak-time download threshold…

Opinion: Super fast broadband via the sewers is fine, but ISPs need incentives to improve


Ofcom has decided to conduct a survey of Britain’s pipework to test its suitability for carrying fibre-optic cabling for use in high speed broadband networks.

Bournemouth Council has already tested broadband via the sewers, so it’s possible, but the main problem is that most ISPs don’t have a real incentive to roll out faster services.

Two issues — the growing use of mobile Internet, and Internet users’ skyrocketing demand for Video on Demand and other bandwidth-intensive multimedia — were never envisaged when the Internet was born.

UK Government to investigate path to next generation broadband

fibre_optic_cable.jpgThink your pitifully slow “nowhere near up to eight meg” broadband is a joke? You may be vaguely encouraged that the Government is starting to look at how we move Britain into truly fast, “next generation” broadband.

The Business and Competitiveness Minister, Shriti Vadera, launched the independent review on Friday. It will look at the importance of 100Mbps+ broadband to British businesses, and what the potential barriers are to achieving those kind of speeds.

“The way we will do business, access many government services, as well as information and entertainment, will change beyond recognition over our lifetime. New technologies will push the boundaries of today’s communications infrastructure,” she said. “We need to prepare the way for the UK to adopt groundbreaking new technologies to ensure that we do not get left behind – competitively or technologically.”