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UK nudging its way up broadband leagues
Tuesday 22 February 2005 17:12:00 by Andrew Ferguson

In a country that has league tables for almost everything, it is to be expected that broadband services will have their own. An Ovum report and speeches at 4th ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) conference on E-Commerce in London's Docklands have provided the latest league positions. Two main tables have been published, extensiveness and competitiveness, these are reproduced below, with the originals available at Government News Network.

Extensiveness index rank order

 

G7 rank Q3 2004

G7 rank Q1 2004

G7 rank Q3 2003

G7 rank Q3 2001

UK 1 3 3= 5
Canada 2 2 1= 3
Japan 3 1 1= 3
US 4 4 3= 4
Germany 5 5 5 2
France 6 7 7 7
Italy 7 6 6 6
Competitiveness index rank order

 

G7 rank Q3 2004

G7 rank Q1 2004

G7 rank Q3 2003

G7 rank Q3 2001

Japan 1 1 1 3
Canada 2 2 2 1
UK 3 3 3 4=
US 4 4 4 2
France 5 5 5 4=
Germany 6 6 6 6
Italy 7 7 7 7

The UK holding a position of number 1 for coverage is no major surprise, while there are still areas of the UK with no affordable broadband coverage, coverage does have a lot better outlook than many other countries. The biggest sea change is visible in the questions asked on our forums, which has switched from 'why does my exchange not have broadband', to questions from people asking about getting a faster than 0.5Mbps speed service.

The fact that the UK is number three for competitiveness, is more of a surprise. France if the reports are correct often seems to have much better deals than the UK for example http://adsl.free.fr with a headline of 20Mbps for 29.95 Euros a month. The UK does have some good deals, and the baseline price for a 0.5Mbps service is dropping, though this is mainly due to the introduction of metering. ISPs like UK Online, Bulldog, HomeChoice & Telewest amongst others are becoming more available, with 8Mbps being the current maximum among these providers.

BT Wholesale has been accused of predatory pricing, particularly with the proposed rebate on high demand exchanges, which many view as being a way of curbing LLU roll-outs. Though if a price cut of ~£1.40 per month is going to stop LLU providers then, we might as well not expect anything exciting from the BT Group at all. Why? Simply put, many people see UK ADSL and broadband as too slow and over priced, and would like the pricing to drop nationwide. In the current UK regulatory environment this can only happen if BT also drops the Datastream and LLU pricing. One answer that only BT know, is how far can they drop those prices until they are subsidising their competitors?

Fingers crossed the talk of ADSL2+ may be the jump in broadband connections the UK needs, since if BT Wholesale up the game, their competitors will be forced to. Too often regulation in various UK markets results in situations where the new entrants simply stay 5% or 10% ahead of the incumbent, taking the path of least risk. If people want a true competitor to BT, it will not come from regulation, but from a company willing to take large risks, for potentially large returns in the long term.

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