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BBC claims broadband faces slow future
Friday 18 July 2003 17:14:00 by Andrew Ferguson

BBC News Onlines Mark Ward had a nice piece published today that looks at the issues of speed on access from the boundary of the Internet to its core. In laymans terms, the speed of the connections from your home to the ISP.

Whilst the piece is interesting in that it makes mention of the newly emerging standards ADSL2 and ADSL2+ it makes one glaring mistake: "Most British people get high-speed net access to their homes via ADSL, or Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, technology that works at 512kbps. This speed is a third of the 1.5mbps laid down in the specifications for the flavour of ADSL offered by UK net service firms."

The mistake is that they claim that 1.5Mbps is the rated speed for the type of ADSL in use in the UK, this is patently inaccurate, since 2Mbps ADSL has been available in the UK since the year 2000. Additionally providers like Bulldog are offering ADSL at upto 6Mbps for consumers, Easynet even push their business lines right upto 8Mbps. The flavour of ADSL that does have a 1.5Mbps limit is G.lite (ITU 992.2), the UK is currently running the G.DMT (ITU G.992.1) standard. The speeds quoted are all in the downstream direction.

ADSL2 and ADSL2+ as stated on the BBC site do offer higher speeds of 12Mbps and 25Mbps. The real beauty of the new standards is that line bonding is supported, so a very long line can be bonded with two or more lines to give a higher speed to an area that otherwise would not see those sorts of speeds. For more details on what speeds the standards should achieve see here

Many people will contend that these new variants are just tinkering, and compared to the option of installing fibre optic cabling to the home they offer little competition speed wise. Fibre to the home is very much the holy grail of Internet access at this time, and unfortunately it looks like it will remain that way, until the economics for it are much better. Current estimates are around the £600 ($1000) per house mark for adding fibre to all the homes in an area. For people looking for more information on fibre to the home rollout and its costs have a look at the FTTHCouncil.org and here.

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