The fastest mobile broadband in the UK is provided by O2 according to a study done by Ofcom.
The study done last year between September and December was done by Ofcom in partnership with Epitiro, the broadband monitoring specialists, found that the average mobile broadband speed was 1.5Mb with an average web page taking 8.5 seconds to download, this was done using dongles and datacards and did not include smartphones.
In areas where there was very good 3G coverage the average mobile broadband speeds were 2.1Mb which during peak evening hours fell to 1.7Mb with basic web pages taking around 2.2 seconds to download on average.
Between the 5 mobile broadband providers in the UK it was O2 mobile broadband that on average performed the fastest and had a lower latency that 3, Orange and Vodafone. O2 averaged around 2.5-3Mb speeds while at the other end of the scale Orange were averaging around 1-1.4Mb speeds.
Other interesting parts that the study found was that 17% of UK households use mobile broadband services to access online services with 7% using it as their only means of internet access, a 4% rise in a year from the 3% the previous year.
Over 4.2 million broadband speed tests were run for the study with 97 static test probes across the UK being used to gather the results.
Trials of 4G super fast wireless broadband are to start in the Newlyn East area of south Newquay, Cornwall that are currently unable to get any broadband service.
The service is going to be made available to these people living in the “notspot” areas to trial the 4G technology that is being used by BT and Everything Everywhere who are the owners of Orange and TR-Mobile. The new 4G service is also known as LTE (Long Term Evolution).
Although theoretically the 4G service will be able to offer mobile broadband speeds of up to 150Mb is is unlikely that speeds anyway near to these will be realised. It is more likely that a target of around 10Mb is what the companies will be aiming for with the range possible being from 2Mb-40Mb. The faster speeds may be possible in the early hours of the morning such as 3am in the morning but regular usage will mean this is not a speed most will see.
The trials will start in September and run for at least 3 months with 100 customers involved with testing it on mobiles and 100 testing it via fixed lines.
Although LTE services have been launched in America and some parts of Europe this trial will be one of the first that actually combines mobile and fixed line together.
Last week we ran a story (here) about calls for the 800MHz spectrum to be required to be made available to 98% of the UK rather than 95% when it is auctioned off next year.
MPs from different parties yesterday called on Ofcom to make the requirement of the 800MHz mobile broadband spectrum to be available to 98% of the UK, up from the 95% figure that is currently being attached to it ahead of it being auctioned off next year in a plea to help a further 2 million rural people who live out of range of high speed broadband connections.
The current target of 95% coverage that is being attached to it would leave around 6 million people without the 4G mobile broadband access which works well over long distances and works well for those living in rural and more remote areas to get a reliable internet connection.
MPs claim that Ofcom is putting money before coverage by saying that Ofcom are worried about losing money from the auction as the mobile broadband providers may not pay as much for the 800MHz spectrum if they are required to extend the coverage from 95% to 98% of the country.
Ofcom will finish their consultation stage of the auction at the end of this month and once this is done the terms that will be attached to the new 800MHz spectrum will be decided. Ofcom are unlikely at this late stage to increase to required coverage from 95% of the population. The estimate cost to increase from 95% coverage to 98% coverage is around £215 million with this figure potentially lowering the final sale price of the spectrum.
In future however if the government need to go to the winners of the auction and request that coverage is extended then they will be having to pay for this as apposed to it being done by the companies own costs now.
BT’s profits rose by 71% through cost cutting with job cuts, restructuring and increasing the broadband customer base.
BT have managed to post full year profits of £1.7bn which is up from the £1bn posted a year ago even though there was a 4% drop in revenues from £21bn to £20bn. BT have managed to save around £1.1bn with the cutting of agency and contract workers which meant that labour costs fell by 5% down to £5.8bn.
The broadband sector of BT’s business is where BT are striving and helping to increase it’s profits, with 252,000 customers added to BT’s network during the past year, this included from rival broadband providers who use BT’s network, such as Sky and TalkTalk. However, 64% of those who signed up did so direct through BT’s own broadband deals.
Ian Livingstone, Chief Executive for BT said:
“We have consolidated our position as the leading provider of broadband in the UK with our highest quarterly share of DSL broadband net additions for eight years.
Our roll out of super-fast broadband is one of the most rapid in the world, passing an average of 80,000 additional premises each week and we have plans to roughly double the speed of our fibre-to-the-cabinet based service in 2012.”
Fibre broadband is the area that BT are investing heavily in over the next few years as they roll out their “BT Infinity” network to 66% of the UK. Fibre broadband is the next generation of broadband and where the future of broadband is going to be as customers need faster broadband connections that only fibre is able to deliver. BT are investing £2.5bn between now and 2015 to roll out it’s new fibre network which it will be looking at in future to provide even greater profits for the company going forward. Currently they are adding around 80,000 premises per week to their fibre to the cabinet network which offers broadband speeds of around 40Mb, BT do say that they plan to double these speeds in 2012.
TalkTalk are launching HomeSafe, a free malware and offensive website blocker for TalkTalk broadband customers.
TalkTalk are the first UK broadband provider that will be providing this service at a network level, this means that unlike your usual security that is installed and controlled on your computer this HomeSafe security will be run on TalkTalks central computer system amd will in effect sit between the web and users individual home connections.
HomeSafe will come with 3 different features as security:
- Virus Alerts – a simple click will enable an alert system which blocks web pages infected with any kind of malware, to protect customers’ computers and other devices
- KidsSafe parental controls – allows the TalkTalk account holder to block the content they don’t want to be accessed through their connection, such as pornography, violence and/or gambling.
- Homework Time – this allows parents to block social networking sites like Facebook and online gaming which are common sources of distraction for school children from their homework.
The TalkTalk account holder is able to select which parts of the HomeSafe security they want to be enabled, by default the services will be off and so TalkTalk customers will need to enable them as and when they want them.
The Commercial Director of TalkTalk, Tristia Clarke, said:
“Our customers tell us that they couldn’t imagine living without the internet now, especially given how much their children rely on it for school work and social reasons, but they still worry about the innate risks the internet brings with it. In particular they’re concerned about what sort of things their children could stumble across when they’re surfing online.
This is especially important now that children are regularly using devices like phones, and not just the main family PC, to access the internet. Our research found that 33% of children aged 12-17 use their mobile phones to surf social networking sites and 29% use it to instant message when at home.
HomeSafe is our answer to this. Of course, it’s not a silver bullet and it doesn’t absolve parents from the responsibility of knowing what their children are up to online. But our research shows parents understand this. They don’t want their ISP to control what content they can or can’t access online – they just want their ISP to give them the power to implement settings that are right for their family.
That’s what HomeSafe does, and we believe it’s the most comprehensive and effective internet security product available right now. We’ve spent a lot of time working with parents, charities and other groups to get this product right and make it as user-friendly as possible, and we think it will appeal to people who want a safer internet experience for their family.“
BT are trying to recruit 200 ex-armed forces personnel to help with the roll out of their next generation fibre broadband network.
BT Openreach has been working with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) who offer training, help and employment support for those who are leaving the armed forces. Due to the skills of many armed service personnel BT Openreach feel that they will be able to fulfill many job roles that BT need to help facilitate their new high speed network rollout. With a fast-track programme in place, many of the 200 new recruits will be able to start work by the end of May and help BT Openreach with their target of reaching two thirds of the UK with it’s fibre network by 2015.
The CEO of Openreach, Olivia Garfield, said:
“It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to recruit so many ex-armed services personnel. These people have served their country well and so deserve the chance of full-time employment with a generous reward package. They are highly skilled, motivated and disciplined and have experience of complex engineering tasks in challenging environments.
Our “fast-track” recruitment programme should see the majority of them join us by the end of May and given their experience, we will be able to train them up quickly and get them straight out where we need them.”
The Managing Director of the CTP, David Duffy, said:
“We have had an amazing success rate with this project, and have received tremendous feedback about the high calibre of the Service leavers who have applied for the roles on offer.
The CTP offers a no cost recruitment solution, supporting organisations with their workforce strategy by understanding their recruitment needs and matching the transferable skills of Service leavers. To date, Openreach have carried out 202 interviews specifically for Service leavers with 181 subsequently being offered positions. This converts to a 90% success rate at interview and reflects the highly sought after skill-sets, abilities and attitude of those leaving the Armed Forces.“
BT have refuted claims made by Fibrestream that they replace stolen copper lines with inferior quality copper lines.
BT suffer from thieves stealing their copper cable from cabinets and ducts that they then sell on to scrap yards as the price of copper is high. Due to the high price is costs to replace copper Fibrestreak claim that BT using thinner copper wires or using copper coated aluminium wire which is inferior and cheaper and will give slower broadband speeds.
The blog post which was posted on the Fibrestream site read:
“Older copper wires were 0.5mm^2 cross-sectional area – new wires are often 0.3mm^2 (saves money you see as copper is terribly expensive these days)
Copper coated aluminium wire may be used as a replacement (cheaper)
Less cross-sectional area means higher resistance (impedance or both?) and good old Ally attenuates broadband frequencies more quickly than copper.
1600 households and businesses now look destined to get crapper BT broadband tomorrow than they had yesterday.”
However, BT told PC Pro that they do no recognise Fibrestream’s claims and that “When cable is stolen or damaged our policy is to replace it with like for like, good quality cable.”
The big problem is stopping the cable theft, anyone who sees or suspects anyone trying to steal cable should report it immediately as it is likely that people will be without broadband connections until the cable is replaced and repaired.
It is looking likely that Ofcom are going to need to step in to set the pricing BT charges rival providers to access it’s physical infrastructure of telegraph poles and underground ducts for the roll out of fibre broadband.
BT is currently in talks with rival providers over the pricing they want to charge for allowing access to their network for these rival providers to install their own fibre optic networks by utilising BT’s poles and underground ducts. It is rivals such as Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Fujitsu, Sky and some other smaller providers that are locked in talks and negotiations with BT with both sides looking for a compromise that the Ed Richards, the Chief Executive of Ofcom believes is unlikely to happen.
Only a month ago (ISPs complain that BTs fibre access costs are too much) did we hear how Ed Vaizey was sent a letter from 5 ISPs that said that it would be cheaper for them to replicate the network from new than it would be to pay the prices BT wants to charge for them to access it.
The Chief Executive of Ofcom, Ed Richards said the following yesterday:
“It would be much better if the parties could just agree a commercial rate…
…I think it is unlikely they will agree.”
BT don’t believe that Ofcom need to get involved at this early stage by saying in a statement:
“This is new ground for all of us and so we are working closely with both Ofcom and industry to ensure the final prices reflect the true costs. Our current analysis shows our draft prices compare well with those in Europe but the trial will help us see if we can go even further.
“We are keen to agree the final prices with industry and so we would encourage more companies to join the trial, particularly those who claim such access is essential to their business plans. It is our hope that we can reach agreement with industry on this issue.“