Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Ofcom: Broadband Service Not What Government Wants It to Be

A new report from Ofcom clearly shows that broadband service in Great Britain is not exactly where the Government wants it to be.  Despite being a clear leader in Europe for providing affordable broadband services to residents, there are still problems within the system that have to be overcome, the regulator's report says.  For example, there is still too big a gap between the fastest and slowest Internet speeds that consumers have access to.

According to the report, a speed of 10Mbps is the standard requirement for residential homes.  Unfortunately, up to 15% of UK households do not have access to speeds that high.  An additional 3% do not even have access to speeds of 2Mbps.  Furthermore, the regulator says that 18% of British households do not have any Internet access at all.

The Ofcom report goes on to say that things are improving as evidenced by the fact that the average download speed for residential consumers is 23Mbps. In addition to this, approximately 75% of UK households have access to superfast broadband boasting speeds of up to 30Mbps, despite only 21% taking advantage of it.  The Government hopes to have superfast broadband access readily available to 95% of the public by the end of 2017.

Ofcom also points out that commercial and residential services in rural areas are still significantly lacking.  This is where the large gap in download speeds comes into play.  While some of the luckiest customers in urban areas can receive speeds of up to 350Mbps, there are rural customers who were slogging along at 0.1Mbps.  The problem, Ofcom says, is the expense of running fibre networks out to rural areas.

Having said that, the Government says solutions are being worked on to fill the infrastructure holes.  It says new technologies may make it possible to increase speeds in rural areas without such a large investment.  Let's hope it’s right – especially if it truly hopes to reach its 95% superfast broadband goal.

What It All Means

It is great that Ofcom analysed all the data and presented this report however what does it mean to both consumers and companies involved in Internet-based businesses?  It is likely to mean that we are nearing the end of the landline in Great Britain.  Landlines have not been necessary for telephone communications for years; the only thing that has kept them around is the need for dial-up Internet access among those who want it.  Nevertheless, dial-up Internet is a dinosaur that is now almost completely extinct.

Along those same lines, expanding data communications networks now make it possible for consumers to do all of their work online via a smartphone.  There is no incentive any more for people or businesses to continue paying for a landline when they can receive calls and access the Internet without it.

As we watch the landline fade off into obscurity, all eyes will be on the broadband industry and Government expansion goals.  By this time next year, we should know how close the Government is to providing superfast broadband to all…

Source:  BBC Technology News – http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30375854


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