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October 30, 2012

EE turn on 4G mobile broadband and launch fibre broadband services

Everything Everywhere (EE) today switch on their 4G service in 11 cities across the country today giving them around a 6 month head start on their rivals for being able to offer 4G services.

ee 4g network EE turn on 4G mobile broadband and launch fibre broadband servicesEE is the merged company of T-Mobile and Orange who already have the largest 3G network (due to the 2 companies merging), their new 4G service will offer mobile broadband speeds around 5 times faster than 3G can offer and up to 10 times faster is possible and will even be comparable to many users home broadband connection speeds.

The 4G service on offer will likely  average download speeds of between 8Mb-10Mb with the possibility of the best conditions to even reach up to 40Mb speeds with your mobile device. Obviously the speed being received can vary and depends largely on what device users are using, how close to the 4G mast users are and the number of people on the network.

The 11 cities where EE 4G will be turned on today are Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Sheffield and Southampton. It is expected that a further 5 cities will also have 4G available to them by Christmas with more cities and rural locations planned for 2013 and 98% of the population to have 4G coverage from EE by the end of 2014.

EE are investing £1.5 billion in their network which will expand at a rate of 2,000 square miles every month.

Olaf Swantee, EE CEO, said:
Today is a landmark day for our company, the UK mobile industry and, most importantly, the country’s businesses and consumers.

But this is just the start as our 4G network will continue to grow stronger and wider by the day. We’re investing £1.5 billion in our network to be the first company to offer mobile 4G in the UK, alongside the biggest 3G network. Combined with our Fibre Broadband and revolutionary service model we have a pioneering and unique offer to customers across the UK – superfast speeds in the home, superfast speeds on the move and expert service on nearly every high street in Britain.

Along with launching the 4G network EE have also launched EE Fibre Broadband too which is available to 11 million people at present via the BT Openreach network.

New customers can check 4G coverage or buy a 4G device with mobile plan online or from one of the 700 newly re-branded EE shops on the high street.


October 26, 2012

BT up headline fibre broadband speed to 160Mb for the lucky few

BT has upped the headline download speed of its’ full fibre broadband package to a very healthy 160Mb with this replacing the previous headline speed of 100Mb and taking it past Virgin Media’s fastest speed of 120Mb.

bt 160mb deal BT up headline fibre broadband speed to 160Mb for the lucky fewHowever, before too many people get a bit giddy about those great speeds it must be pointed out that this is only available to those customers who are connected with full fibre (FTTH) which only accounts for around 85,000 homes in the UK at present, reportedly just 0.05% of households according to the FTTH Council Europe.
Most of the UK will be being connected with FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) which itself is currently able to offer headlines speeds of up to 76Mb.

The 160Mb deal for those that are able to take it will still have the 20Mb upload speeds and will cost a very reasonable £35 per month plus £14.60 per month line rental (or the equivalent of £10.75 per month if paid 1 year in advance) which also comes with evening and weekend calls included.

Over at ThinkBroadband they note that as BT has been trialing 330Mb speeds at a few exchanges that this 160Mb deal could well be this product but with speed restrictions in place to cap it at 160Mb for the time being with the eventual action being to offer the 330Mb speeds for those who “need” it.

For those who think that they want to be able to have this lovely 160Mb speed then from next year this may be possible as BT are launching a fibre -on-demand service where users can upgrade their FTTC connection to a full fibre one, however it is unlikely to be a cheap thing for consumers to do as they will need to pay BT for this to be done for them on their behalf.


October 23, 2012

BT & Virgin Media launch complaint over Birmingham councils broadband plans

Both BT & Virgin Media have launched legal action to try and stop Birmingham City Council from being able to roll out their own fibre optic network as they claim it will compete against them as it will include areas already covered by the rival companies.

Although the European Union has already granted Birmingham the state aid to help make it one of the “digital leaders” to the tune of £10 million (from the pot of £150 million set aside from the Government to create these “digital leader” cities) there is now likely to be a delay on the money being received or if it will even be cancelled depending on the outcome from the BT & Virgin Media complaints.

Some might look at the situation as BT & Virgin Media as just looking out for themselves and not at the greater benefit to the public or businesses with some areas now potentially going to miss out on being connected to a fibre network if the complaints get upheld, however on the other hand both Virgin & BT may just want more clarity on the exact places that Birmingham City Council want to place the fibre network so that it does not overlap where they already have covered themselves.

Councillor James McKay said:
The city has worked in a very positive and collaborative way with them over the last few years to help inform and develop our business case and we are surprised that they have now chosen to appeal at such a late stage.

We developed a robust State Aid case, based heavily on evidence that Virgin Media and others provided to us that clearly demonstrates a strong market failure.

We have proven that it is an imperfect market and have presented to the Commission a case that the majority of SMEs in Digbeth, Eastside and The Jewellery Quarter areas cannot receive affordable high-speed broadband.

A spokesperson for Virgin Media said:
We fully support the Urban Broadband Fund and government ambitions to bring superfast broadband to areas not currently served by existing fibre networks. So it’s disappointing that Birmingham City Council has put forward a scheme which is not in the interests of local people and we believe, as a result, the European Commission has made a decision based on inaccurate and misleading information which could waste public money.

Depending on the outcome of this case could see other cases arise in other cities too such as Manchester.


October 12, 2012

Broadband Stakeholder Group give their views on the future of UK superfast broadband

The Broadband Stakeholder Group has released it’s predictions for UK broadband growth in the UK and how they see the take up of superfast fibre optic broadband to be taken up by consumers.

In the report they recognise the ambitious plans by the UK government to have over 90% of homes and businesses in the UK to have access to superfast broadband (broadband of 25Mb or above) going forward over the coming years, however the predict the take up of the superfast broadband services to not be as great as the likes of BT and Virgin Media will likely be hoping for.

It says that it is early days in the UK for superfast broadband but we have got off to a solid start, however they don’t see any indications that the UK will have any more a rapid growth in numbers taking fibre optic broadband than other countries have had previously. What may help potentially aid growth in the UK is the added fact that there is competition between providers which in turn should help bring the price down for superfast broadband, we have BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk along with & Zen who will all be retailing superfast broadband services to customers.

Looking long term to 2020, the estimated number of superfast broadband subscribers that the Broadband Stakeholder Group foresee is a maximum of around 12-13 million, considering that BT say that this many homes will be able to receive FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) by 2013 they won’t see that as a great figure.

The UK currently has around 6 million households with superfast broadband, this is way below the 14% that Sweden and Portugal have at the top of the chart, however by 2015 the aim is for the UK to have the leading broadband network iof the major European countries.

Pamela Learmonth, CEO of the Broadband Stakeholder Group, said:
The BSG believes that the most important factor in evaluating broadband is usage: how are people using broadband and what benefits result from this.  If we are working towards having the best broadband in Europe by 2015 it is these demand side issues that are as important as concerns over infrastructure.  In publishing this report we hope that we can engender greater debate and interest in demand side issues so that the UK can reap the greatest benefits from investment in improving broadband networks.

The full document from the BSG can be seen here.


October 4, 2012

Leaked report suggests BT over charging for rural broadband rollout

A leaked Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) report that suggests BT have been inflating the prices of the roll out of rural broadband has been denied by BT while the person who reportedly leaked the document has been sacked.

According to the leaked reported (first leaked on Br0kenTeleph0n3) which was written by Mike Kiely, it costs BT around £11,689 for one of the new fibre green boxes to be installed before group costs. However, it is claimed that BT was charging £17,000 for the boxes to be installed in “generic” rural areas, £21,858 in the very rural areas and a huge £30,000 in the really remote areas of the UK. The report suggests that these figures are based on “pseudo wholesale costs” that BT gave and not the actual costs incurred to them.
On top of this the report suggests that BT’s labour charges jumped from £1,855 to £5,145 in “generic” rural areas, £7,297 in the very rural areas and £10,635 in the really remote areas.

The BDUK fund is a pot of £1 billion which has been set aside by the government to help BT roll out its fibre network to 12 million homes and businesses in rural parts of the UK where it was not financially viable for BT to roll out to with just their own money.

BT themselves have said the following:

BT is winning competitive BDUK tenders precisely because it is committing extra funds to improve broadband access. These funds are in addition to our commercial investment of £2.5bn and so it is ludicrous to suggest that we are trying to pass on the full cost of deployment to our public sector partners.

It is thought that the document from Kiely was designed to help local authorities  negotiate better deals with BT having the extra knowledge to hand about the costs. As each council has to sign non-disclosure agreements they are not able to talk with other councils about their own agreements and deals with BT and so may find it harder to negotiate better deals from BT.

- Filed under: News
- Tags: BDUK funds, BT over charging, BT Rural broadband, Mike Kiely
Author: Mark @ 10:42 am

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