Free mobile broadband is to be made available to 11 rural communities from mobile network 3.
The 11 villages are set to be offered free mobile broadband dongles and free internet access from 3 Mobile broadband in an attempt to give them an internet connection that they can use. For the next 12 months the residents of the 11 remote villages will have access to free internet access courtesy of 3 mobile.
3 Mobile said that they are doing this to help fulfil the governments pledge that everyone in the UK will have access to the internet by 2012 with their “Race Online 2012″ scheme. They will also be keen to show how 3G mobile broadband is a viable and useful option for those struggling with traditional wired internet to get them selves online.
Some cynics believe that it is more to do with buttering up the government to get themselves some of the wireless spectrum.
Hugh Davies, Three’s director of corporate affairs, told the BBC:
“We hope to demonstrate that mobile needs to be a crucial part of the strategy to tackle notspots.”
Dave Dyson, Three’s Chief Executive, said:
“We’ve built the UK’s most extensive 3G network using high-frequency spectrum, if we gain access to low-frequency spectrum like 800Mhz we will be able to significantly improve both indoor and outdoor rural coverage for the UK’s smartphone and mobile broadband users.
Low-frequency spectrum on a network as big as ours is a real notspot-killer.”
The first place to benefit form the free mobile broadband is Gringley-on-the-Hill in North Nottinghamshire where a total of 30 mobile dongles and free data access cards will be offered. The remaining 10 locations are yet to be chosen.
The UK’s slowest broadband towns have been listed after broadband speed tests across the country were done by uSwitch.com
The Kent town of Cranbrook managed to set an average broadband download speed of just 1.32Mb which is around 5 times slower than the national average which is 7.5Mb.
Out of the top 20 (or should than be bottom 20) for slowest broadband speeds the counties of Kent & Sussex were home to 6 of the slowest broadband towns in the survey, with all of them having broadband speeds below 2Mb.
The results were gathered from people running broadband speeds tests and as such pr0bably mean there are other places with slower broadband, but from the 400,000 speed tests that were performed between May & July this year these were the findings.
The second slowest was Tregaron in Wales followed by Lavant which is near to Chichester.
These slow broadband speeds are on the UK governments agenda to get sorted, in Western Europe the UK has one of the slowest internet connections, way behind the average in France of 18Mb and Finland with 22Mb. The UK government want to have the fastest European broadband network by 2015, along with the £2.5bn investment in their fibre network being done by BT, the government have announced a £530m pot to help fund broadband out to rural areas and a further £300m in the future.
We can only look longingly at the average broadband speeds that South Korea and Japan offer which are 46Mb and 61Mb respectivly.
The Scottish government are not happy with the amount of funding that the UK government has allocated them to help fund their broadband roll-out.
Scotland were allocated £68.8m from the £530m pot that was allocated to help fund the roll-out of broadband across the UK with the aim that we have the fastest broadband network in Europe by 2015.
However, Alex Neil, Scotland’s cabinet secretary for infrastructure said:
“I am disappointed with the allocation from the UK government towards the Scottish government’s ambition for roll-out of next generation broadband across the whole of Scotland.
…this announcement from the UK government has fallen short of the expectations of the Scottish economy to the overall costs of broadband roll-out in the remote and rural parts of Scotland.
For instance the cost to deliver next generation broadband across the Highlands and Islands alone has been estimated at up to £300m, therefore we do not regard the UK government’s allocation as a realistic contribution to meet Scotland’s broadband requirements.”
The rest of the £530m pot that was available through left over money from the digital switchover has also been allocated with England receiving £294.8m, Northern Ireland £4.4m and Wales £56.9m. There is a universal broadband target of 2Mb broadband speeds as a minimum out lined by the government.
Rural broadband in the UK is to get a boost to the tune of £530m to bring broadband to “not spots” in an announcement due by the government.
The government announcement is expected to announce that it is putting up £530m to help fund the final third of the UK that are considered broadband “not spots” as they have broadband connections speeds of under 2Mb.
40 locations are to benefit when the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, revels the areas that have received funding from the £530m pot. There is also expected to be a further £300m promised after 2015 too.
The Government have set out a target of having a Universal Broadband speed of 2Mb or above for all 25m homes in the country by 2015 and 90% of the country to be with superfast broadband (this is classed as 24Mb or above).
The funding from the government is coming from the money that was left from the digital TV switchover. BT are putting in for many of the contracts to roll out to these rural areas, and providing the government backs each of the council contracts BT says that they will match the money put forward by the government and they would also expect that the councils to do the same.
BT themselves are currently investing £2.5bn in rolling out their fibre broadband network across the UK which for most homes will be via FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet and will offer speeds up to 40Mb. Users can check the speed of their internet connection by running a broadband speed test.
The recent riots in the UK is likely to mean that thousands of broadband and landline installations that are scheduled to be done by BT engineers are likely to be postponed due to the riots in the UK.
In certain areas there is restricted access either by the police or the fire service due to the riots, also BT are also restricting other places where it believes there is a potential risk to their engineers. BT will also be prioritising repair jobs ahead of new installations and upgrades until service can resume to normal.
In a statement from BT Openreach, they said:
“There has been some impact on the service we are able to provide our customers, including missed appointments, where our engineers have been unable to access affected areas.
In these exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary, in certain areas, to focus our restricted resources on repair rather than provision to ensure you have service.”
It is estimated that between 500-1000 jobs per day will be left outstanding with many needing to be re-booked back in to be done.
Virgin Media are to pull out of offering its services in Westminster, London from January next year as it is unable to upgrade the network to deliver it’s next generation broadband and TV services.
The move comes because Virgin Media said that the infrastructure in place is not able to cope with the superfast 100Mb broadband the company is rolling out.
Although in the main Virgin Media use it’s own network to deliver it’s broadband in the instance of Westminster they actually use BT’s infrastructure and they are unable to upgrade the infrastructure cost effectively enough to be able to cope with the network capabilities that they want to offer.
Due to the lines in place from BT is meant that Virgin would not be able to offer faster broadband speeds than 50Mb in the area.
It is anticipated that around 3,000 people will be affected from Virgin Media withdrawing from Westminster. One of the reasons that Virgin Media can not easily or cost effectively upgrade the network is because around Westminster it is a conservation area which makes it extremely difficult to be able to upgrade the infrastructure.
Virgin Media had the following to say:
“From January 2012, we will no longer be able to provide our existing broadband and analogue TV services to homes in Westminster. We use BT’s infrastructure to deliver services in Westminster and are unable to upgrade the network and deliver our own next generation digital services at a reasonable cost. We are speaking to our customers now to ensure they have plenty of time to decide on an alternative service or provider and will do everything we can to help them make the switch.“
Virgin Media are to extend their fibre optic cable network to a further 100,000 homes by the end of 2011.
Virgin currently cover half of the UK with it’s network and so far during 2011 has seen the network expanded to cover a further 73,000 homes in places such as Derry in Northern Ireland and Staines in West London. The current expansion is going to start in Southampton where Virgin Media plan to double it’s current presence in the city.
Virgin are keen to point out that all homes connected to it’s fibre network are by a high-grade coaxial line unlike BT’s which on the whole is done with the existing copper wire which is inferior for the job than the coaxial line Virgin Media use. Virgin Media’s network has currently cost around £13bn in private investment to get to where it is today.
Jon James, Virgin Media’s executive director of broadband, said:
“By extending our unique fibre optic network to parts of the country previously outside our traditional heartland, we’re ensuring more people can experience the compelling advantages that a superfast connection can bring and in doing so, support the Government’s digital ambitions. Today’s increasingly digital lifestyle requires better broadband and we’ve seen a strong response from the communities we expand into who are crying out for quality services. We’re adding thousands of homes to our network every month as our expansion programme continues and we look for opportunities to give more people access to the fastest broadband and best in home entertainment.”
Virgin have also recently completed trials of the world’s fastest cable broadband which achieved broadband speeds of 1.5Gb, this was done using the existing network infrastructure that Virgin Media have in place and showing that they are able to future proof their network for going forward as and when they need to meet future demands.
Virgin Media are looking into offering a free public wi-fi service to cover London and be a firm rival to BT’s Openzone network.
According to Neil Berkett, the Chief Executive of Virgin Media, they are in “quite advanced negotiations” with London councils about the service which could potentially be launched in the not too distant future.
This free London WiFi service from Virgin Media will offer everyone a 0.5Mb broadband connection and to Virgin Media customers this will be available up to 10Mb. BT’s Openzone network charges users up to £5.99 for a 90 minutes browsing and is only free to BT broadband customers. It is also only able to bring broadband speeds “up to” 8Mb depending on how close t0 one of the hotspots the user is.
It is likely that the network will cost Virgin Media a few million pounds and it is considered by the company as a “punt”.
Mr Berkett also said:
“there is a gap that is increasingly occurring between consumers’ need for data outside the home and what they can get on 3G”
By offering free public wifi this will help to bridge the gap as more and more people access the internet on the move mainly via smartphone devices.