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Telewest response to news item on 50% speed increases
Friday 07 May 2004 09:32:00 by Andrew Ferguson

Back on Monday 26th April we featured the news about NTL and Telewest increasing the speeds of their broadband services. Telewest has responded to this item, and we have published below the full response.

Thanks for covering our news piece on ADSLguide yesterday. I just wanted to respond to a couple of points that you made.
  • Slow to promote broadband: We were the first ISP to launch a mass market broadband internet service in the UK back in March 2000 and we are continually innovating - launching a 2Mb service over a year before BT got round to launching a 1Mb service. Our broadband internet products have been at the heart of the company since then and we now have nearly half a million broadband subscribers even though our franchise areas only cover around 25% of the UK. Within our franchise areas around three times more people choose blueyonder broadband over ADSL services, which is down to continuous promotion and a focus on quality of service.
  • We cannot however be certain of the service levels that users will experience on these services as no contention is mentioned: Our customers are not affected by contention ratios in the same way as ADSL products. A blueyonder broadband customer (regardless of whether they are 750K or 3Mb) shares their bandwidth with however many users there are in the street. But there is a sub-level network within each street (an RF network) and we re-segment that network every time a new customer joins, giving them the amount of bandwidth they are paying for (i.e. 750 or 3Mb). That segment of the network is unique to the customer and can't be 'hogged' or invaded by another customer, no matter how many there are on the street. We monitor this RF network daily to ensure there are enough segments of the sub-network for customers and, based on even the most optimistic forecasts for take up, we have plenty of bandwidth for the foreseeable future. Therefore our customers, although affected by general internet traffic like any surfer, don't experience the affects of contention. This is also how we are able to offer upgrades to our 1.5Mb and 3Mb services within literally a matter of minutes, as we send a hit to the local hub which increases the bandwidth segment for that customer. In terms of general quality of service the cable companies also have the unique advantage of owning both the ISP and the network, which means that we can monitor the end-to-end experience for our customers, unlike resellers of ADSL.
You seem to suggest that we have deliberately delayed the launch of faster services - as mentioned previously we launched 1Mb and 2Mb service well over a year ago and it has been a question of waiting for the market to mature enough to offer faster broadband services.

Alexandra Legg, Consumer PR Executive, Telewest

We believe the key thing is that NTL and Telewest are now in a push of broadband beyond the relatively static envelope of the last 3 to 4 years. The UK has for other than a small percentage of households, had just 0.5Mbps residential services available, with 2Mbps being the maximum available even to those willing to pay a large premium.

The last eighteen months have produced large changes, with Telewest launching a 2Mbps service, and the availability of 4 and 6Mbps from Bulldog for consumers, and various 2Mbps connections from Datastream providers. The big change is that now Telewest has pushed the envelope in an impressive manner up to 3Mbps, bringing a lot more of the UK into line with the speeds commonly available in other countries. Telewest's coverage is around 25% of UK households, or 5 million households depending on how you express it. With around 0.5 million blueyonder cable modem service users this makes Telewest one of the largest UK broadband ISPs.

The comments on the contention issue, are interesting and if BT Wholesale's usage/capacity charging does result in more contention for ADSL users, this may drive more customers towards the blueyonder services.


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