ZDNet has comments from Chad Raube, director of internet services at Telewest Broadband that indicate that 5 or 6Mbps services could be available to its customers with a few years. Much is made of the fact that ADSL has a limited reach, and the distance of service is a trade-off against the speed of service.
We would suspect that what is likely to happen, is that if and when BT Wholesale appear with a 3Mbps or 4Mbps product, Telewest will release a 5 or 6Mbps product. In other words to keep just one step ahead. We would challenge Telewest to perhaps rather than wait a few years, to actually do the change within a year and push the envelope for once in the UK.
The subtext of the range of the 2Mbps products, is perhaps slightly mis-leading, generally around 60% of households on a BT exchange are in range of the 2Mbps services under the current limits. But with modem technology improving, and products like ADSL2 and ASDL2+ on the horizon it is very likely that the range can be improved. HomeChoice are actually using between 3Mbps to 6Mbps to users home now to deliver their Video On Demand and Internet service over ADSL links in the London area. Bulldog offer 6Mbps to residential users in central London also. So any claims by providers to offer the fastest broadband service in the UK, will often have lots of small print qualifying them.
This verbal sparring is good and healthy between the major providers. It should drive a desire for them to roll-out services, and hopefully also drive the content market to make use of the products available. One area not addressed very often is the speed of upstream links, this has stayed fairly static at 256kbps, with the growth of video conferencing and VoIP the upstream bandwidth is likely to become almost as important as downstream.
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