May 31, 2012
Superfast broadband deployment in the Royal Boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea in London have been pulled by BT Openreach after the council rejected the applications BT had submitted for new street cabinets that are needed to deliver the superfast fibre broadband.
In total BT Openreach submitted 108 applications for new fibre cabinets for the areas that would cover around 24,000 homes and businesses in the area with fibre broadband with the council rejecting 96 of these applications because the council said that the cabinets were not in keeping with the historic streetscape of the area.
Over the past few months BT and the council are believed to have been involved in numerous meetings trying to come to an agreement on the new fibre cabinets, with the council wanting the cabinets to be moved underground but this was rejected by BT due to the potential of flooding risks. The council are also believed to have asked BT to make the cabinets smaller but again this was refused by BT as it would make the rollout in the area uneconomical.
In a statement to PC Pro magazine, a BT spoksesperson, said:
“Other councils, including those of neighbouring boroughs, have shown a greater eagerness to enjoy the benefits of fibre broadband. We will therefore re-focus our engineers’ efforts in other areas where planning authorities have taken a positive approach and are keen to ensure their residents and businesses can benefit from this technology.”
Kensington and Chelsea council made a statement that said:
“We regret that BT are not proceeding with superfast broadband in the Royal Borough but virtually the whole borough is already covered by superfast broadband with Virgin, who obviously appreciate the very valuable market the borough represents.
Virgin have been able to do this without ruining our historic streetscape. They will also consider extending to the few streets they do not already cover in the borough if demand is there.“
May 29, 2012
The price of broadband still appears to be the main point that customers look at over broadband speeds when it comes to superfast broadband with very few willing to pay more than £30 per month for a 100Mb broadband connection.
77% of those who answered a recent survey said they would not pay more than £30 for a 100Mb broadband connection and this figure rises to 88% if you include those who say they are happy with their standard broadband speed and price.
The study, which was done by PCAdvisor.co.uk asked 2177 visitors to their site “How much would you pay for a 100Mbps Internet connection (Excluding line rental)?”
The results were that 28% said £0-£10, 28% said £10-£20, 21% said £20-£30 and just 10% saying £30+. A further 3% said they did not know and 11% sad they were happy with their standard broadband speed and price.
Virgin Media currently offer a 100Mb fibre broadband service which costs £25.50 per month when it is taken with a Virgin phone line which costs £13.90 per month. BT’s 100Mb service is far less widely available but where it is available it costs £35 per month plus line rental from £10.75 per month.
What we anticipate is that many users who have broadband connections may be satisfied with the speeds they receive at the moment for the price they pay and don’t see the benefit of paying more for superfast fibre broadband at this stage. We think many will only move over to the superfast fibre broadband speeds when prices reduce for it to match or be closer to the price they are currently paying or when they receive a free upgrade. Currently many broadband users may not have the need to upgrade to superfast 100Mb broadband at the present time and so the likes of Virgin Media and BT Infinity are going to have to work hard to convince users to sign up for their top deals.
May 17, 2012
Estimated broadband speeds are still not being given to all new broadband customers according to a “secret shopping” survey done by Ofcom.
The “secret shopping” experience was done between mid-December last year and January this year and it involved a total of 1,369 inquiries online and via telephone.
In 2008 a voluntary code was introduced that ISPs signed up for that said that the ISPs would inform customers of the likely broadband speed they would receive on their line before they signed up, to help customers from feeling mis-sold with the headline “up to” broadband speeds that were used in advertising, in 2011 this code was strengthened further where the ISPs who have signed up have committed to give maximum speed estimates in the form of a range as early as practicable in the sales process.
In 59% of the telephone inquiries made during the “secret shopping” survey the estimated broadband speed was given to the customer without the caller needing to ask or prompt the provider with this rising to 93% when the caller asked for the estimated speed.
The speed given over the phone in 72% of cases was as between a range of speeds.
Karoo broadband were the best for providing this information with the speed offered up in 76% of cases, Sky in 72% of cases and Plus net in 67% of cases. On the other side of the scale we saw TalkTalk & BT providing it in less than half of the cases, Talktalk 47% and BT 48% without the caller needing to prompt them.
Both TalkTalk & BT have spoken with Ofcom and are amending their staff training and sales procedures to rectify the situation which should hopefully see the estimated broadband speeds offered up earlier in the conversation.
Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, Claudio Pollack, said:
“It is vital that as the choice of broadband services expands, UK consumers get the best possible information when choosing a broadband provider.
Our mystery shopping shows that, while consumer information about broadband speeds has improved in important areas, there is still more to be done.
We are working with internet providers to improve information that consumers receive when they sign up to a new service and will continue to monitor this area closely.”
The broadband speed customers receive can cause much confusion, customers who have signed up to a broadband deal adverting “up to” certain speeds and then when they run a broadband speed test they find their actual speed is far below this, this is why Ofcom brought in the voluntary code to help make sure customers were given more accurate estimates of the broadband speed they would receive before they signed up for a broadband deal.
May 15, 2012
Broadband speeds in Britain are 42% slower than are advertised on average according to a survey done by The Guardian.
The Guardian newspaper ran a 3 day survey asking readers to fill out what broadband speed they were advertised to be on and what the actual broadband speed they received was by running a broadband speed test.
The results were that on average customers were paying for 12Mb broadband but receiving 7Mb, a difference of 42%.
From the study they also found that Sky Customers appeared to be fairing the worst, with an average of 12Mb broadband being paid for but just 4.8Mb on average being received, a huge 60% gap. Virgin Media customers were showing a 41% gap, receiving 17.1Mb instead of their advertised 30Mb, although still averaging the highest broadband speeds. BT were who fared the best, with advertised broadband speeds at 8Mb and actual broadband speed being received of 6Mb, only a 25% gap. Plusnet, who BT also own, were similarly showing just a 27% gap.
A Virgin Media spokesperson told The Guardian:
“Virgin Media has long argued for greater clarity in broadband advertising and, while the changes in April were long overdue yet welcome, we’ve seen ISPs continue to hide behind generic terms or catch-all claims. We are committed to continuing to lead this industry which is why we only advertise speeds that our customers can reasonably expect to actually receive. Ofcom’s independent and comprehensive research consistently shows we deliver what we say, with our 30Mb service actually providing almost 31Mb on average. That’s not to say we are complacent. We continue to deliver the UK’s fastest widely available broadband and we’re in the process of boosting speeds for customers with our doubling upgrade and the introduction of 120Mb. Virgin Media now delivers superfast broadband as standard to millions of UK homes and we’ve raised expectations of what consumers deserve from their ISP.”
The survey was done on The Guardian website with 3,000 visitors filling it out over the 3 days.
May 11, 2012
BT are ahead of schedule for the rolling out of their fibre broadband network. They already have a fibre broadband service available to 10 million premises across the UK which is way ahead of their initial target date.
BT had originally planned on reaching the 10 million premises mark for fibre broadband by the end of 2012, so they are around 7 months ahead of plan and are aiming to have around two thirds of the UK covered by the end of 2014.
Most of these fibre connections are via FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) which currently offers those who are using it speeds up to 80Mb.
Take up of the service is currently at around half a million and there are more than 60 other ISPs that are offering services or trialling the services via BT Wholesale.
BT’s Chief Executive, Ian Livingstone, said:
“Our engineers have worked tirelessly this past year and BT has made a real commitment to the UK’s infrastructure.
Rolling out fibre is no easy task and so to have passed ten million premises in such a short time is fantastic. Our roll-out is one of the fastest in the world and our engineers deserve lots of credit.”
In Northern Ireland BT have had lots of positive news, having fibre rolled out to 89% of homes and businesses thanks in huge part to the partnership BT has with the Department of Trade, Enterprise and Investment.
BT believe that the success they have had in Northern Ireland can be replicated in the UK mainland by using the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds. BT have been bidding to get these funds to help fund furthe rrollout of fibre broadband across the country.
May 9, 2012
The former BT Chief technology officer, Peter Cochrane, has warned that the UK could be “frozen out” in the race for high-speed broadband.
In Briton the internet helps generate more money online than any other G20 nation, but despite this we are still lagging behind other countries when it comes to high-speed broadband connections.
Last week the Akamai report into the “State Of The Internet” found the UK down in 16th place for fastest broadband speeds in Europe and even further down on the world rankings. It also showed that for the final quarter of 2011 that the average broadband speed test in the UK actually dropped from 5.1Mb to 4.9Mb.
Peter Cochrane, the former BT chief technology officer, said this to The Guardian:
“Britain is being frozen out of the next industrial revolution.
In terms of broadband, the UK is at the back of the pack. We’re beaten by almost every other European country and Asia leaves us for dust.”
Despite the investment that BT & the UK government are putting in to fibre optic broadband it is believed by many not to be sufficient when you compare it to other countries.
The Telegraph pointed out that in Russia there are 12 million homes that have fibre connected to the premises and in France there are 6 million with 70% due to be connected by 2020. In the UK there are just 400,000 who have full fibre broadband to the premises, with BT’s fibre broadband rollout mainly only offering Fibre To The Cabinet and not full fibre to the premises which is the optimal way to get superfast broadband.
The difference between full fibre which could offer broadband speeds up to 1000Mb and fibre to the cabinet which on BT’s network is currently up to 80Mb is a huge gap and where the difference in big investment in a really future proofed network really lies.
Asia is streaking ahead of everyone else, the UK local and central government have put forward £1.3 billion for broadband, but for the UK to compete on the level of funds that China have put per head this would need to be increased over 5 times to £7 billion.
Although BT and the UK government may argue that BT’s up to 80Mb broadband is more than sufficient for peoples use in the UK it does not mean that in future it won’t be holding us back while the rest of the world is on much faster broadband speeds.
May 3, 2012
5 of the main UK ISPs were ordered to restrict access to The Pirate Bay file sharing website by the High Court in London to help stop copyrighted material being illegally downloaded.
Sky Broadband, Everything Everywhere (Orange & T-mobile owner), O2 Broadband, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have all been forced to restrict access to the site, however BT have been given more time on the issue and has not been named as one of the broadband providers who have to act on the High Courts ruling.
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) were those who brought the case forward after last year having asked ISPs to block access to the website off their own back without the need for court action. However as the ISPs did not act on the request from the BPI the BPI then went to court in December to try start legal action to get the website blocked.
A Virgin Media spokeswoman, said:
“As a responsible ISP, Virgin Media complies with court orders addressed to the company but strongly believes that changing consumer behaviour to tackle copyright infringement also needs compelling legal alternatives, such as our agreement with Spotify, to give consumers access to great content at the right price.”
It is expected that the website will start being blocked by the ISPs over the coming weeks, already Virgin Media customers will be seeing “Website not available” messages if they try to access The Pirate Bay. It is estimated that around 3.7 million people in the UK use the file sharing website.
The Pirate Bay responded to the block on their website, by saying:
“The Western countries of the world all complaints about the censorship in Iran, China, Saudi Arabia and so on. But they are really the worst culprits themselves, having double morals in doing an even worse thing themselves.
Today news was out that the UK high court has decided that TPB is “massively infringing on copyright”. The facts that no copyright is being infringed upon here at the site was not a welcome fact, so that was ignored apparantly.”
They also listed up ways to circumvent the block which it is expected many users of the website would already have been looking to do.
May 1, 2012
UK broadband speeds actually decreased in the last quarter of 2011 down to and average of 4.9Mb according to figures found by Akamai.
Akamai produce the “State of the Internet” report shows that the UK’s average broadband speed for Q3 had been 5.1Mb and this had dropped to 4.9Mb for Q4, a 3.5% drop in average broadband speed test results. However, the UK was not alone in seeing broadband speeds decreasing, 8 out of the top 10 countries, along with the USA also saw average broadband download speeds decrease. In total, there were 91 countries that notched up slower download speeds with 41 seeing an increase in speeds.
The top 2 countries in terms of fastest average download speeds were South Korea and Japan, both of these continued on an upwards trend compared to the other 8 countries in the top 10 below them. South Korea notched up an average download speed of 17.5Mb and Japan 9.1Mb.
Within Europe, the Netherlands was the country that posted up the fastest average broadband speed with 8.2Mb while the UK was down in 16th position. The city of Umea in Sweden notched up 11.3Mb to make it the fastest European city, although not 1 UK city made it into the top 100 cities worldwide!
Positive news for the UK was that 91% of the internet connections that were measured were over 2Mb, which will please the governments target of reaching universal coverage across the country at this speed by 2015.
These average broadband speed results were perhaps just a blip for the UK, especially with the huge roll-out of BT’s fibre broadband network taking place, we would anticipate that the UK should start seeing average broadband speeds increasing as more and more customers switch tho fibre broadband.