March 31, 2010
Broadband in the UK has reached it’s tenth birthday today as it marks the day 10 years ago the first broadband customer started to receive their broadband service.
On March 31st 2000, Mark Bush of Basildon, Essex first had his NTL (now Virgin Media) broadband connection set up.
The original launch of the cable broadband in the UK was delayed by 12 weeks for extra testing, but Mr Bush requested that it was installed anyway and for that extra testing period he was the only NTL broadband customer.
Mr Bush told the BBC:
“It was pretty impressive in the early days, with having the whole pipe to myself”
Back then dial up was the way people connected to the internet, usually via a 56Kb connection and many internet connections being charged by the minute which proved to be very expensive. In the 10 years since, standard broadband has gone from the standard 512Kb broadband connections which were 10 times faster than dial up to 50Mb connections which is around 960 times faster than a standard dial up connection.
As broadband speeds have increased massively the price of broadband has come down and it is now also considered an essential service that many people expect to receive.
To mark the milestone, Virgin Media have got United Visual Artists to develop a piece of art called “Speed of Light” that is a laser based installation that involves 148 lasers across five rooms that will be put on display at London’s South Bank gallery from April 9th.
Seeing how far broadband has developed in these ten years shows how important the future investment in next generation fibre broadband is in the UK, we need to make sure that the current roll out will be future proof enough to cope with demand in the future.
Virgin Media are already looking at rolling out 100Mb broadband which puts BT’s 40Mb FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) installations in the shade.
March 24, 2010
A man who wants to be able to file his VAT return online has been told that it will cost £56,000 by BT to have internet installed at his premises!
When Tony Simkin of Beulah, Ceredigion in Wales asked BT for a quote replied saying it would cost £48,250 plus £8,443 VAT to have internet connected to his premises as he would require a new line to be installed.
His current line he has since found out can’t be used for internet because it is being shared with an unmanned water pumping station that is close by, if his line hadn’t been shared then he would likely already be able to use the internet, like the 2 farms that are located within 400 yards of his premises.
BT have claimed that he was quote £40,000 ex VAT for the installation with BT Openreach apparently offering to pay the first £8,000 of the work, they also said:
“There can be very rare cases where additional charges are applied because of an exceptional amount of work required in order to provide service.”
From the 1st of April all VAT returns have to be completed online meaning that those who don’t have internet access will have to find it to be able to file their VAT return.
The government have a Universal broadband pledge where they want everyone in the UK to have a minimum broadband speed of 2Mb by 2012 which until that date it would seem unfair to be making everyone have to file VAT returns online, especially in many rural areas where internet is not available and will be a big problem for farmers and other rural businesses who may not have internet access or even posses the skills to use a computer.
March 23, 2010
Ofcom is after faster roll-out of high speed next generation fibre broadband to the UK and are looking at making BT open up access to their network and also to their underground ducts and telephone poles for other rival fibre providers to install their own fibre networks.
In return for allowing rival broadband providers such as Talk-Talk and Sky access to BT’s fibre lines BT would be able to set their own prices that they would charge for access so that they are able to make a fair return on their investment.
It is a similar way that Local Loop Unbundling has happened with the copper networks that BT already have, which allows rival providers in to basically take control of the line themselves.
Ofcom want competitors to have a virtual link to the new fibre that BT has installed which they are calling “Virtual Unbundling”.
Ofcom did surveys June 2008 and through 2009 of BT’s duct network and found that up to 50% of the ducts had spare room in them that would allow more ducts to be installed.
Ed Richards, the Chief Executive of Ofcom said:
“Super-fast broadband is starting to be a reality in the UK, with very significant advances in recent months in the speeds some providers are offering.
Ofcom’s proposed regulations provide a framework for continued investment, to deliver further roll-out, competition and innovation for consumers.”
We often hear of “Super-fast broadband” but quite often there is no yard-stick as such for us to say what this equates to, Ofcom have made a bit of a clarification of how they rank it in that Super-fast broadband uses fibre optic cable and speeds that are up to 10 times as fast as today’s levels. Working on today’s levels the majority of people are on up to 8Mb broadband services with the average broadband speed that is received being around the 4Mb mark (there have been various broadband speed test surveys done) so this would take the super-fast broadband speed to 40Mb if this is what Ofcom are working on. BT are currently installing their fibre network and are aiming to offer 40Mb broadband to 10 million home sin the UK by 2012.
March 22, 2010
Superfast broadband is to be made available to every home in the UK by 2020 according to the Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Currently there is plans that superfast broadband of 50Mb or above should be available to be available to 90% of the UK population by 2017, meaning that it would look like the remaining 10% of the rural areas that would be left would only take an extra 3 years to be connected up to the new superfast broadband.
Mr Brown said:
“Super-fast broadband is the electricity of the digital age. And I believe it must be for all — not just for some.”.
Labour expect to raise between £175m-£200m each year by charging a 50p per month (£6 per year) tax on each telephone line in the UK, with this money being used to help fund the roll ou8t of next generation broadband to rural areas where it does not make financial sense for companies for BT to fund the roll out to.
Mr Brown believes that it could help save the government billions of pounds and change the way public services are provided to us.
One of the ideas is that each person would have their own section on a central government website where they would be presented with all their own personalised information about Council tax, rubbish and recycling collections, doctors and dentists available to them and the local available schools and each persons hospital records.
The idea being that when a person changes address all their information can be taken with them meaning that they only need to update one website with their new address and the other organisations would automatically get updated with the new records too.
Although all the extra jobs that would be made by the plans,, an estimated 250,000 jobs, it would however potentially see the end of jobs for some, as passport offices, vehicle licensing and tax offices could all be closed within 10 years.
Superfast fibre broadband is currently available by Virgin Media and BT are currently starting their roll out of fibre optic broadband (BT Infinity) that aims to have 40% of UK premises covered by 2012.
March 18, 2010
Virgin Media are to make watching HD TV channels available at no monthly fee for customers.
As from Monday 22nd March, both new and existing Virgin Media TV customers will be able to get the new V HD box for a one off cost of £49 plus installation costs (£35) and then this will be all they pay. There will be no on-going monthly subscription charges to receive HD channels.
To be eligible though, customers need to be on the “M+” TV tier or above to be able to receive the V HD Box.
Customers will not own their own box, the ownership will be retained by Virgin Media, this however means that should anything go wrong with the V HD Box then Virgin Media will come to fix it and there will be no charges to the customer for warranties or have to pay expensive call out fees or replacement or repair fees on the box.
Cindy Rose, Virgin Media’s executive directory of digital entertainment said:
“We want to make the best High Definition TV available to more people at affordable prices and without the additional monthly subscription fee. If you really love telly you’ll probably want our V+HD box because then you can then record programmes on up to two channels while simultaneously watching another. Our new V HD Box is ideal for anyone who wants to experience the power of HD without the extra monthly fee. We think our superb range of TV content gives our customers a real choice and makes Virgin Media the best value TV offering available.”
Virgin Media customers who are on the “XL” TV package can receive even more HD channels which includes National Grographic HD, LIVING HD, MTV HD, and ESPN HD which will mean that Premier League football can be watched in HD too.
Also, HD channels soon to launch with Virgin Media include ITV, Eurosport, Discovery, SCI FI, E4 and Film4.
March 16, 2010
New subscribers to Sky TV will receive a £50 M&S voucher in a short term offer if they join Sky online.
The offer is available to new Sky TV subscribers (sky.com) or those who take out a Sky TV bundle with broadband and or telephone.
Sky have a regular offer of a £25 M&S voucher available to new subscribers but until the 25th March 2010 this has been doubled to an impressive £50.
Sky have recently started making every new sky box they send out a Sky+HD box ready for all the HD channels that are available and will become available.
The headline offer of a triple play service of Sky Broadband, TV and calls can be taken for just £18 per month. This deal includes a free standard set up, £49 for a SKY+HD box (if the HD pack is not taken), free broadband that offers up to 2Mb broadband speeds and a 2GB monthly usage, plus calls (evening and weekend landline calls) and a free £50 M&S voucher.
To receive the Sky+ HD box free customers need to sign up for the HD pack which costs £10 per month and will make available currently 37 HD channels, so combined with the cheapest deal customers could have Sky HD package for £28 per month,
New subscribers need to sign up online at www.sky.com by the 25th March and activate their viewing card by 25th April 2010 to receive their free £50 M&S voucher.
Eclipse Internet have boosted the download limits on its broadband packages and doubled what customers are able to use on both it’s home and business broadband packages.
The “Home Select” broadband package is perhaps the one that has been given the biggest boost, with monthly usage being upped from 10Gb per month to 50Gb. It also offers up to 24Mb broadband speeds and a free router for a cost of £19.95 per month and is aimed at the general internet user.
The “Home Pro” broadband package has also seen a big increase in data usage limits, jumping from 50Gb up to 100Gb and also having free overnight usage between 11pm and 9am. This comes with a free wireless router and also free evening and weekend phone calls to UK landlines at a cost of £29.95 per month, plus again providing ADSL2+ has been enabled customers can receive up to 24Mb broadband speeds.
The business broadband packages see the “Home Office Broadband” having usage upped to 10Gb for £14.95 per month, the “Business Bronze Broadband” getting 50GB usage for £19.95 per month and the “Business Silver Broadband” getting 100GB usage for £29.95 per month. All these packages also receive unmetered usage between 11pm and 9am.
The “Busienss Gold Broadband” package has stayed the same as this already offers true unlimited (NO fair usage policy) for £49.95 per month (all business broadband package prices ex.VAT)
Here at BroadbandWatchdog.co.uk we always much prefer broadband providers who make their monthly usage clear and don’t hind behind “fair usage policys” like so many do.
Eclipse Internet are one of the broadband providers who do make it clear how much usage you will receive, and in the case of their Unlimited broadband it is truly unlimited with no restrictions or fair use policies put in place over it.
March 15, 2010
A study done by the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) has found that some businesses would consider moving premises for a better broadband connection and that 8Mb should be the minimum broadband srpeed business should receive.
The study found that from the 1,300 small business that were queried around quarter (24%) of these were dissatisfied with their broadband service.
Of those that were dissatisfied, it found that 63% were not happy because of the broadband speed they received and the reliability of their broadband internet connection.
The importance of fast and reliable broadband can been seen with the fact that of those that were not satisfied with their business broadband that 13% of these companies have or would consider moving their business premises to an area where they would be able to received faster broadband and more reliable broadband.
The FSB has called for the Government to make broadband providers be obliged to provide a minimum broadband speed of 8Mb direct to business premises ahead of the Digital Economy Bill which is due to be debated in the House of Lords and is set to be put before the House of Commons on March 22nd.
The results of the FSB survey were as follows:
Satisfaction with broadband provision at business premises:
14% – Very Satisfied
44% – Fairly satisfied
19% – Neither
14% – Fairly dissatisfied
9% – Very dissatisfied
Of the 24% who said that they were dissatisfied to some degree, the results for their resons are:
63% – Unhappy with provide speed/reliability of connection
30% – The area where my business is based has unreliable broadband connection
17% – Unhappy with provider price
13% – Unhappy with provider customer service
6% – Speed/reliability of connection
4% – The rural area where my business is based has low speed
2% – Infrastructure/BT line does not meet speed/ reliability requirements
1% – Too far from exchange
With more and more businesses moving online and more parts of how businesses are run being through the internet a slow or un-reliable broadband connection could severely affect how a business operates.
Only earlier today we reported how the Tories are looking to offer 100Mb broadband across most of the UK in their Technology Manifesto if they were to be elected in the up-coming general election.
If The Conservatives win the General Election they have pledged to deliver 100Mb fibre broadband across Britain by 2017.
Having just launched their “Technology Manifesto” it says that:
“We will be the first country in Europe to extend superfast 100 mbs broadband across most of the population. This is up to 50 times faster than Labour’s planned broadband network – and will open up new opportunities for the next generation of British high tech companies, and put Britain at an advantage when it comes to developing innovative online platforms and services.”
The wording above is a bit mis-leasding as they are comparing the minimum 2Mb Universal broadband that Labour have and not Labours aim of having 90% of the UK covered with Next Generation fibre broadband by 2017, which will be in part funded by the controversial 50p per month “broadband tax” that will be applied to every landline in the UK.
They would also hold BT to it’s word on requiring them to open up their ducts for other companies to lay their own fibre in them to houses where it is available and in return part of the BBC License fees would be used by BT to help deliver high speed broadband to more rural areas where the cost would be too high otherwise for BT to make it a commercially viable option.
The manifesto also read:
“Our plans will give Britain the fastest high speed broadband network in Europe, helping to create 600,000 additional jobs. We will make the British government the most technology-friendly in the world, and meet our ambition that the next generation of Googles, Microsofts and Facebooks are British companies”
It is good to see that with this election that technology and in-particularly high speed broadband is quite an important factor to it which we hope will result in the investment that is needed to make sure that Britain does rise up the ranks of high speed broadband nations instead of falling behind other advancing nations.
The General Election is widely anticipated to be on May 6th.
March 12, 2010
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BT is to start offering competitive broadband and phone bundles after Ofcom relaxed the competition rules allowing them to do so.
Previously BT were not able to compete with rivals in the bundles market but Ofcom relaxed the rules last September meaning that BT could start going head-to-head with rivals with their own bundled deals.
BT are having a “Spring Sale” where prices for their bundle of Option 1 Broadband and Anytime calls (BT Talk and Surf) will cost just £15.99 per month on an 18 month contract, with the first 3 months being half price at just £7.99. The broadband will offer “up to” 20Mb broadband speeds and 10GB usage per month.
Another option is the BT Total Broadband Option 3 which offers unlimited broadband usage (fair use policy applies) with the Anytime calls (BT Talk and Surf Unlimited) which will cost £27.99 per month with the first 3 months costing £19.99 on an 18 month contract.
These broadband and phone deals do also still require a monthly line rental charge of £11.54 per month.
BT will also be offering Triple Play bundles which offer Broadband, Telephone and TV. The entry bundle (BT Talk, Surf & Watch) will offer the Anytime calls, the BT Option 1 Broadband and BT Vision for £21.99 per month on an 18 month contract with the first 3 months being offered at a discounted £9.99 per month.
These BT “Spring Sale” deals are expected to run until March 23rd.
John Petter, the managing director of BT’s Consumer Division said:
“We wanted to give our customers a great seasonal sale and to promote our all-in calls package.
“Over the last 12 months, 3.6 million of our customers have moved to calls packages, where you don’t pay for every call.
“Offering a bundle of broadband and Anytime calls for this knockdown price will launch us into the bundles market as an unrestricted competitor for the first time. There will be many more bundled offers to come and customers can only benefit.”
Although these deals are not the most competitive broadband and phone bundled deals available we anticipate that BT will continue to better their deals now that they are able to do so. We could find that the fibre network they are starting to roll out will offer some enticing deals for customers to get them using the “BT Infinity” fibre broadband network and perhaps this is what they are waiting for.