What is the future of broadband speeds in the UK

Thursday, May 10th 2012

Generally speaking, the Brits are peace loving and they are not easily irritated. However, there is a limit for human patience and once you cross the limit, even a Bishop will loose his temper. Currently that is what is happening with Britons. They are thoroughly depressed with the broadband, with the provider’s false speed claims and with the congested networks. Just to load a short YouTube video, it takes a long time in the UK.

Juliette Garside, Telecoms correspondent for the Guardian wrote that the UK, which was considered as the pioneer in broadband technology is currently lagging behind many European countries. The report alleged that even the Telecoms giant, BT or its rivals have no proper plans and the ministers are not taking any real interest in solving the broadband problems apart from taking about online pornography.

There is no doubt that the potential of telecommunications industry depend on ultra high-speed fibre optic technology. This technology has the capability of carrying many channels of HD and 3D TV, can provide online gaming and cater to the demands of households and businesses. While all other countries are using both private and public funding to boost connections, Britain is sitting quite under the pretext of preparing for the 4G auction.

Let us examine the world scenario of fibre optic connections.
It is estimated that France has 6 Million fibre connected homes and is trying to extend fibre connections to 70% of its homes by the year 2020 while 12 million homes in Russia have fibre connections. Australia has a government financed network which is to trying to achieve 90% fibre connected homes. It is really pathetic to see that the once world leader of telecommunications technology has only 400,000 fibre homes and is still groping in the dark for a clear cut broadband plan.

On the other hand, one of the leading providers in the UK, BT says that most of the homes in the UK do not need fibre to the door connections. The company desires to save money by using the existing copper cables from the telephone exchanges and street cabinet. Australian style upgradation would cost 30 billion Pounds and BT says that by the year 2017, 90% of homes in the UK would be provided with broadband speeds of 80 Mbps.

The problem here is that no one trusts the claims of BT or other providers since the claimed speed is not matching with the reality. How is it possible to have 80 Mbps on a network which is depending on outdated copper wiring is the question asked by many? Yesterday, the Guardian conducted a reader survey of broadband speeds and much to their surprise the response from the readers was overwhelming. Frustration over the broadband was very clear from their responses and one of the readers from South of Nottingham reported that BT, the supplier in that area is promising broadband speeds of “up to” 18 Mbps. Now time has come to remind the provider that there is a lot of difference between “18’ and 80.

Actually what is happening is, customers are charged for broadband as they have no other option except to pay and they are never provided with download speeds of more than 1Mbps. Without buffering for several minutes, the people in this area can’t watch a 2 minute YouTube clip. Moreover the exchange in this area supports only limited number of providers and the reasons for this is best known to them only.

A BT customer from the Teignmouth area in Devon complaints about the poor performance of ADSL 2+ and has also complaints about speeds variation. In his opinion the problem is due to the shortage of line length. He also said that if the situation is not improved, the UK will become a laughing stock of the internet world in the near future.

Under these circumstances, what is to be done to improve the situation? Resolute political involvement, more public funding, exerting more pressure on the telecoms providers are all needed for improving the broadband infrastructure in the UK. It was considered that having 2 challenging network owners, BT and Virgin Media, would be beneficial to the economy but in practice, it only resulted in the duplication of super fast networks in large cities. Again as Virgin Media couldn’t reach the remote areas, almost half of the country is left behind.


Another subject for the debate is the mobile broadband speeds. Here also Britain is behind many European countries. The problem with the mobile broadband speeds revolves round the 4G spectrum. Due to lack of political will, the corporate interests are being allowed to hinder innovation.

It is to be admitted that there is no widespread need for ultra-fast broadband. All internet users are not in need for ultra-fast broadband. There is need for Britain to invest in broadband because the nation is passing through a recession. The Government has earmarked 30 billion Pounds for speed railway connecting London to Birmingham. They should have taken note of the importance of the role played by broadband in the economy. Had the money been invested in the broadband sector, it would have been a good investment for the future.

The way to future is obscure and as per the reader’s views the internet speeds in the UK has to be raised, and the Government has to make sure that the providers are adhering to their claims and also that the government should plan a long-standing infrastructure approach.

Related News
Thursday, May 20th 2010
Five years after its beta launch as a small internet start up, YouTube has exceeded the two billion strikes milestone, ...
Wednesday, April 11th 2012
Kijoma Broadband blames West Sussex County of utilizing broadband funds to provide broadband to regions that already have high speed ...
Thursday, December 1st 2011
According to councilor Simon Geraghty the GBP 8.5 million broadband scheme of Worcestershire will contribute a lot in increasing the ...
Monday, September 14th 2009
A housing estate residents in Worcester have put forth their lament that they received pathetically low broadband speeds for accessing ...