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March 31, 2011

Ofcom looking at cutting wholesale broadband and phone prices

The price of home phone and broadband services could be set to come down after Ofcom, the telephones regulator, look to reduce the wholesale prices charged by BT Openreach.

ofcom Ofcom looking at cutting wholesale broadband and phone pricesOpenreach are the wholesale division of BT and are responsible for charging other providers access to the BT network and the wholesale price charged to some broadband providers could be reduced by up to 10% per year which will benefit broadband providers such as Sky and TalkTalk.

Two of the ways in which rival broadband providers can get access to BTs network are both set to have the prices reduced, the first is through Local Loop Unbundling, this is where rival providers are able to install their own equipment into the local BT telephone exchange and take control of a customers line, these prices are set to drop by between 1.2% and 4.2% every year if Ofcom gets its way. In instances where the telephone line is shared the price is set to be reduced by 11.6%-14.6% each year with the current price charged being £89.10 per year.
With around 7.6 million unbundled lines in the UK this will mean that there is a lot of people who will benefit from these reductions.

The other way rival providers access BTs network is through Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) which is where the rival providers are simply renting the line from BT. There are around 6.1 million WLR line in the UK and Ofcom are looking to see yearly reductions in price of between 3.1%-6.1% with the price for this currently set at £103.68 per year.

A statement from BT had the following to say:

BT invests more than any other company in the UK’s communications infrastructure, so it is critical that it is able to achieve a fair rate of return in order to continue its investment in copper and fibre-based services.
Upon initial review, we are encouraged by Ofcom’s recognition of this fact, but would question some of the underlying assumptions being used.

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March 29, 2011

Plusnet launch fibre broadband for just £16.49 per month

Plusnet are launching fibre broadband with prices starting at just £16.49 per month.

Plusnet (www.plus.net) are launching “Value Fibre” and “Extra Fibre” broadband packages which will be available form the 19th April 2011. The cheapest fibre broadband package, the “Value Fibre” will offer broadband speeds up to 40Mb with a 40GB usage limit at a cost of £16.49 per month, the “Extra Fibre” package will also offer up to 40Mb broadband speeds but will have 120GB available usage and will cost £21.49 per month (both packages cost £10 more than their respective standard broadband deal).

Also supplied is a new wireless router (£4.99 delivery charge) and installation and activation are free when the fibre broadband is taken with a Home Phone package otherwise a charge of £50 will be charged.

plusnet fibre april 19 Plusnet launch fibre broadband for just £16.49 per month

Those signing up to Plusnet Fibre broadband will also be subject to an 18 month contract as standard. Although bother BT Infinity and Virgin Media have introductory offers which have cheaper fibre broadband for an limited period this deal from Plusnet is currently the only sub £200 fibre broadband deal on the market.

Plusnet (who are owned by BT) will be using BT’s fibre network to deliver their fibre optic broadband. This network is mainly being offered as a FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) service which requires copper wires to transmit the data the last part of the journey from the cabinet to the home, BT’s network is aiming to cover 66% of the UK by 2015.

Anyone wanting to sign up for Plusnet Fibre broadband can do so by visiting www.plus.net.

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March 24, 2011

Global broadband subscribers passes 523 million

Global broadband ended 2010 with more than 523 million subscribers with Global IPTV subscriptions growing by 34.6%.

The figures which have been released by Point-Topic.com were announced yesterday and showed that the total global broadband subscribers by the end of 2010 stood at 523,066,022 which was a net addition for the year of 55 million lines.

July 2010 saw global broadband pass the half a billion landmark figure.

Europe is leading the way with the most broadband subscribers with 188.8 million closely followed by Asia with 184.5 million, Americas had 133.8 million with the Middle East and Africa being way behind with just 15.6 million broadband subscribers.

When it comes to specific countries it is however China that is leading the way with 136 million subscribers, within Europe Germany are leading the way with 26.7 million.

The top 10 broadband countries based on subscribers numbers to the end of 2010 was as follows:

  1. China (all territories) -  136,496,883
  2. USA – 87,172,827
  3. Japan – 34,467,000
  4. Germany – 26,715,350
  5. France – 19,887,530
  6. UK – 19,607,600
  7. South Korea – 17,202,641
  8. Italy – 14,257,650
  9. Brazil – 12,656,200
  10. Russia – 11,619,000

Globally the type of broadband connections subscribers are using currently sees DSL way out in front with 63% of the market (331 million subscribers), Cable (mostly popular in America) accounts for 20% (106 million subscribers) while Fibre broadband connections account for around 14% globally (72 million subscribers). Fixed Wireless Access and Satellite broadband only account for around 2.5% combined.

The market share that Cable has is slowly getting eaten up though with Fibre optic broadband growing fast, a good example is in the UK market where fibre broadband is being rolled out across the UK with the BT Infinity network which should reach around 66% of the country when complete.

IPTV has Europe leading the way with 20.7 million IPTV subscribers, Asia with 16.3 million, Americas with 8 million and the Middle Easy and Africa with 0.2 million.
The top 10 countries for IPTV includes 6 that are within Europe, the UK doesn’t feature in this.

Top 10 IPTV countries:

  1. France – 10,255,000
  2. China (all territories) – 10,002,000
  3. USA – 7,301,800
  4. South Korea – 3,645,650
  5. Japan – 2,213,117
  6. Germany – 1,513,200
  7. Belgium – 975,000
  8. Spain – 858,200
  9. Italy – 819,000
  10. Sweden – 770,000
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March 16, 2011

1 million able to get 100Mb broadband from Virgin

100Mb broadband is now available to 1 million UK homes via Virgin Media’s cable network.

virgin media logo 1 million able to get 100Mb broadband from VirginVirgin Media are aiming to have the 100Mb broadband speeds available to all of its network by mid 2012 which would then mean that half of UK homes (13 million) would be able to sign up to this superfast broadband speed.

The executive director of broadband at Virgin Media, Jon James said;

Reaching the one million home milestone1 is a hugely important step in ensuring consumers are able to keep up with the latest developments in this digitally connected world. We had more then 10,000 registrations on the first day we unveiled 100Mb so there is real desire for better broadband and all the wonderful things you can do with a fast connection. When we finish the roll-out of 100Mb across our network, half the country will have access to ultrafast broadband. That’ll be six years ahead of EU targets.

The 100Mb broadband is available for £35 per month when it is bundled with other virgin Media services or for £45 when bought as a single product.

Virgin are keeping themselves in front in the broadband speed stakes with the new BT Infinity network only going to be offering fibre broadband speeds of up to 40Mb for the majority of place thats will be covered, despite the fact that BT are launching their own 110Mb broadband service for the premises that they connect will full fibre to the home.

The list of places that are currently enabled to receive the 100Mb fibre broadband from Virgin Media are:

  • Barrhead, Renfrewshire
  • Barry, South Wales
  • Bedford, Bedfordshire
  • Canniesburn, Scotland
  • Cardiff, Wales
  • Cheshunt, Hertfordshire
  • Colchester, Essex
  • Cwmbran, South Wales
  • Dunstable, Bedfordshire
  • Ely, Cambridgeshire
  • Enfield, Greater London
  • Epsom, Surrey
  • Farnborough, Hampshire
  • Gorseinon, Wales
  • Grantham, Lincolnshire
  • Greenock, Scotland
  • Guildford, Surrey
  • Hatfield, Hertfordshire
  • Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire
  • Hinckley, Leicestershire
  • Leatherhead, Surrey
  • Nailsea, Somerset
  • Pentwyn, South Wales
  • Port Talbot, South Wales
  • Refrew, Renfrewshire
  • Rotherham, South Yorkshire
  • Sketty, South Wales
  • Southport, Merseyside
  • St Mellons, South Wales
  • Stevenage, Cambridgeshire
  • Stockport, Greater Manchester
  • Telford, Shropshire
  • Treforest, South Wales
  • Trowbridge, Wiltshire
  • Wardley, Greater Manchester
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March 15, 2011

Internet is three times more popular than TV

More than three times as many people would choose to go on the internet than they would to watch TV, do sports/exercise or play computer games according to the results of our latest survey.

We asked users to the www.BroadbandWatchdog.co.uk website:

If you had 1 hour of free time to yourself at home how would you spend it?

1 hour free time Internet is three times more popular than TVThe results rather surprisingly had “reading” as the most popular activity to do with 43.3% of users saying this is how they would spend that hour, while almost a third (30.5%) chose going on the internet as how they would spend that hour of free time.
The surprising result was that watching TV came in with only 8.8% of the votes which was behind doing Sports/Exercise with 10.2% and only just ahead of playing computer games that had 7.4% of the votes.

There are a few ways to look at the results, first off we found it surprising that reading topped the list as the most popular activity to do when someone has an hour of free time to themselves at home but when you consider so many people now use the internet day in and day out for their everyday lives taking a break from looking at a screen might be a more relaxing way to enjoy their free time.
The biggest surprise was how far watching TV was behind going on the internet with going on the internet proving to be over three times more popular than watching the television. High speed broadband connections have helped develop the internet so it has become so versatile and can offer so much which includes the ability to watch specific TV programmes as and when you want them for starters.
The huge popularity of social media and communicating online via sites such as Facebook & Twitter has brought so much of peoples everyday lives online that the use and popularity of TV has declined as the internet popularity has grown.

Health groups won’t be pleased to see that only around 1 in 10 people would choose to exercise if they had a spare hour of the day at home compared to the 9 out of 10 who would choose to do a none physical activity with their free time.

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March 14, 2011

Broadband providers sign up to make Traffic Management clearer

Knowing if your broadband provider will slow down their network speeds at certain times of the day with “traffic management” should be allot clearer from now on as the main UK broadband providers have signed up to a new best practice code to make this side of broadband far clearer.

Traffic management is used by broadband providers to limit the speed that some applications or users are able to use their broadband connection at. Sites such as video streaming or file sharing or even those who play online games via PS3 or Xbox may be affected currently by traffic management and not know how, when or why. This new code that the broadband providers are signing up to should help make this clearer in the form of Key Facts Indicator tables that will list what the traffic management is with the broadband provider.

BSkyB, BT, O2, TalkTalk, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone are signing a voluntary traffic management transparency code that will give users more easily comparable information on traffic management. These 7 broadband providers account for 90% of fixed line broadband connections and 60% of mobile customers in the UK.

The new transparency code has 3 commitments for the broadband providers, they are;

  • Firstly to provide more information to consumers about what traffic management takes place, for what purpose and with what impact.
  • Secondly to comply with a set of good practice principles on providing information to consumer that is: understandable; appropriate; accessible; current; comparable; and verifiable.
  • Thirdly to publish a common Key Facts Indicator (KFI) table, summarising the traffic management practices they use for each broadband product they currently market, which will be available on ISPs’ websites by end of June 2011. Interested customers will be able to access this information directly, however third parties, such as price comparison websites will be encouraged to communicate this comparable information to consumers in an easily accessible way.

This is good for consumers as it is designed to make the traffic management information as clear and simple and in lay-mans terms so it should be free from jargon, it will also be made easily accessible and shouldn’t be hidden away where it would be hard for consumers to find.

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March 10, 2011

WiFi cuts broadband speed by up to 40%

Using WiFi to access the internet can slow your broadband speed by up to 40% according to a recent survey.

On average the broadband speed redcued by 30% when using WiFi to connect to the internet according to the results from the study that was done by Epitiro, internet analysts.

One of the big problems causing the reduced broadband speeds aside form the physical barriers that the WiFi signals need to travel through such as walls and floors is actually interference from other devices using the same channel or frequency.

Many wireless routers by default use the same communications channel which in urban areas can mean that numerous routers can be in a close proximity to each other and lead to connections dropping or slowing the service. Changing the channel of the router could help reduce this problem.

Another issue comes in the form of other electronic devices that use similar frequency range to the wireless router, this can include baby monitors, cordless phones and microwaves.

Ideally using a wired broadband connection would mean more stable, reliable and faster internet connections but many consumers are willing to take the reduced broadband speeds for the freedom and convenience that WiFi offers them.

In real terms, browsing webpages and checkign emails will not produce a great deal of speed difefrence, it is only when more bandwidth reliant applications or downloading of music or video that the speed difference is likely to be noticeable.

14,000 WiFi connections were tested for the study from November 2010 to February 2011. Users can use a free broadband speed test to check themselves if there is much of a difference between a wired and wireless internet connection at home by using our free broadband speed tester.

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March 9, 2011

BT Broadband make Unlimited broadband, Unlimited!

BT Broadband are getting rid of the Fair Use policy it has in place for it’s ADSL and fibre broadband packages and making their unlimited broadband truly unlimited.

bt logo BT Broadband make Unlimited broadband, Unlimited!This is a welcome move to help customers understand more clearly what they are signing up for with a broadband package. So often we have seen broadband deals advertised as offering “Unlimited broadband” yet in the terms & conditions there is a “Fair Use policy” tucked away which gives broadband providers the freedom to stop the broadband service or restrict it to the users who they consider are extremely high usage.

BT Infinity Option 2 fibre broadband and also BT Total Broadband Option 3 on ADSL will now be able to use as much data as they require with the data caps being lifted on these unlimited broadband packages from BT. Previously the “Unlimited download” packages that were on offer had basically 300GB per month (more than enough for the majority of users) of downloads and then their broadband connection would have speed restrictions put in place.
Only around 0.5% of BT Broadband users were effected by the 300GB fair use limit that was in place but regardless of this many felt slightly confused and mis-sold that an unlimited broadband package did actually have limits in place.

Despite the lifting of the Fair Use policy BT have said that “traffic management” will still be in place when the network is busy, this will be for applications such as P2P file sharing which can be quite intensive on the network especially at peak times of the day.

BT Total Broadband Options 1 & 2 and also BT Infinity Option 1 do still have data limits in place, instead of users getting a restricted service or being cut off they will be charged instead £5 per 5GB extra used.

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March 8, 2011

Rightmove to list broadband speeds of homes

Rightmove are to add the estimated broadband speeds of the 1 million homes that it has listed on it’s website.

rightmove Rightmove to list broadband speeds of homesAccording to a story that was run by The Telegraph newspaper they have learnt that Rightmove and BT are teaming up so that the estimated broadband speed of a home is listed down against the basic stats of a house, such as the number of bedrooms, garden or  garage.

Along with the estimated broadband speed to be listed on Rightmove they will also be listing if the property is covered or due to be covered by the new fibre BT Infinity network that is currently being rolled out across the country and will offer fibre optic broadband with a download speed of up to 40Mb. At the present time though coverage of the Virgin Media cable network is not being included which could adversely effect the listing of many properties that will only have the broadband speed listed to them that is availfable by a BT ADSL network which could be just 4Mb when in reality they could be receiving 50Mb broadband connections from Virgin Media.

Around 90% of properties for sale in the UK are listed on Rightmove  so it has a huge importance to the property industry with many buyers using the portal when searching for potential new homes.

A source a Rightmove told The Telegraph:

Broadband is becoming one of the most, if not the most, important considerations for prospective buyers. Many people fall in love with a home only to find out it can only get really slow internet. By listing broadband speed with all the other property details buyers will be able to weed out homes that don’t have high-speed access.

Rightmove have also said that they are currently not in any sort of official partnership with BT.

We have long said that the broadband speeds could effect the sale of a house with houses with high speed broadband having an advantage over houses that have slower broadband connections. This latest step just goes to show how much importance broadband has on our daily lives and will only continue to grow in importance.

How long before adverts for homes change from: “4 Bed detached house with garage and conservatory” instead are reading “40Mb detached house with 4 beds and garage”.

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March 4, 2011

BT target 270,000 homes for 110Mb FTTH broadband by September 2011

BT are aiming to connect over a quarter of a million UK homes to it’s full fibre network.

fibre optic cable BT target 270,000 homes for 110Mb FTTH broadband by September 2011 BT’s FTTH/P (Fibre To The Home/Premises) not only uses fibre optic cable to the street side cabinet but also more fibre from the street side cabinet to the home which means that it can offer even faster broadband. Those on full FTTP/H will be able to sign up to BT’s 110Mb fibre broadband package.

For the most part though BT’s fibre broadband rollout is on a FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet0 basis that will offer broadband up to 40Mb, this is what will be offered to the most homes where BT rolls out it’s Infinity network.

Around 270,000 homes will be connected to the FTTP network by around September this year.

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