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Report on 'Sophisticated broadband services' published
Monday 20 June 2005 17:03:00 by Andrew Ferguson

Another report has been published that looks into the current state of broadband in the United Kingdom and compares it to countries like Korea, USA and France. The report has been published by the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) for the Department of Trade and Industry. The BSG is the is Government's key advisory group on promoting the roll-out and take-up of broadband Services. The report is fairly lengthy at 82 pages long, and we can only hope to bring some highlights from it, but for anyone wanting to research the state of play for broadband in the UK it is essential reading. The document can be downloaded from the web page located here.

The report spends a lot of time comparing the availability of broadband services, and for once actually looks beyond 2Mbps, with 4Mbps and 8Mbps services included. The table below is compiled from the graphs in the document. The percentage is the household coverage of asymmetric broadband services.

Country

1Mbps

2Mbps

4Mbps

8Mbps

South Korea 97% 95% 92% 86%
Japan 94% 93% 90% 84%
UK 93% 84% 33% 8%
Germany 92% 78% 18% 0%
Sweden 90% 90% 71% 71%
Canada 85% 84% 82% 13%
Australia 85% 40% 32% 10%
France 85% 80% 74% 68%
Italy 82% 79% 71% 25%
USA 80% 79% 68% 2%
Ireland 65% 51% 10% 0%

The order for this chart is based on the availability of a 1Mbps service, and does include broadband services other than ADSL. It is clear that the UK is doing well for availability of 1Mbps and 2Mbps services, but clearly is lagging behind a number of other countries with the 4Mbps and 8Mbps services. The continued roll-out of providers like UK Online and Bulldog should address as the year progresses, and around November 2005, we should see 8Mbps services emerging from trial by BT Wholesale.

For people looking for information on the technical limits of both ADSL and ADSL2+ the document has a wide range of graphs to illustrate the issues. For example Exhibit 2.5 shows that once a line length of roughly 3.2km is reached, ADSL2+ performs speedwise much the same as ADSL. Though ADSL2+ does offer other advantages, such as bonding and transparent rate adaption that make it attractive to deploy. Section 2.2 of the document gives data showing the spread of line lengths in a number of countries, for example in the UK 50% of lines are less than 2km long, i.e. 15Mbps ADSL2+ is possible. Around 80% of lines are less than 3km long, which potentially gives 6Mbps for ADSL2+ and marginally less on ADSL. Italy and Spain appear to be blessed with shorter lines than average, where as the United States has longer lines. With the roll-out of 8Mbps ADSL underway, it is interesting to see that this is likely to be possible on around 50% of the telephone lines in the UK.

Concentrating on the UK, a very interesting set of data is that from Exhibit 3.4, which shows the household coverage at various downstream speeds in the regions around the UK. The 100% figures, we would assume are due to rounding, as there is still likely to be the odd line not capable of supporting a 0.5Mbps service.

Region

0.5Mbps

1Mbps

2Mbps

4Mbps

8Mbps

East Midlands 96% 92% 84% 16% 5%
East of England 96% 92% 84% 16% 5%
London 100% 96% 88% 64% 25%
North East 100% 96% 87% 28% 6%
North West 99% 95% 87% 37% 8%
Northern Ireland 100% 96% 85% 0% 0%
Scotland 89% 86% 78% 37% 4%
South East 98% 94% 84% 24% 9%
South West 94% 91% 80% 25% 5%
Wales 92% 89% 78% 8% 0%
West Midlands 96% 93% 85% 51% 8%
Yorkshire and Humberside 95% 91% 83% 37% 7%
National 96% 93% 84% 33% 8%

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