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Tiscali CEO says focus needs to move from speed to bandwidth
Friday 22 February 2008 14:47:47 by Andrew Ferguson

Tiscali now has 55% coverage of the UK households with its unbundled network, just one of the snippets to come out of an interview Mary Turner, who is the CEO of Tiscali UK, has given to

Broadband Britain - why speed is not enough... "The internet and broadband is not just about speed. There's a huge amount of focus on speed. If you track back two or three years ago and the whole of the UK was on half meg [Mb] I would say that's not sufficient. Today the basic package is 8Mbps broadband and we're now talking about 16 to 20Mbps broadband so I think from a speed perspective we're there. Can we increase the speed - yes. But I think the next phase of internet is the volume – i.e. the bandwidth. Because if you look at what the internet has been used for it has been used for email, surfing, file transfers and 1 or 2Mbps broadband is more than sufficient. The next generation of usage and users are going to download videos, stream soaps and so on and it's not speed that matters. Sure you need speed but 16Mbps is more than enough. What you need is the bandwidth."

Question and answer from interview

This may confuse some people as many assume speed is bandwidth. The speed is referring to the basic connection to the telephone exchange and it was just over four years ago that 1Mbps connections were being trialled for home users. With unbundled lines now giving connections speeds up to 24Mbps, dependent on provider and line length, and BT Wholesale offering up to 8Mbps since 2006, things have moved on. The bandwidth comes into play in terms of how much of the backhaul capacity from the exchange out to the Internet is allocated to each user. The amount varies from provider to provider but probably has changed very little over the years, rates of 20 to 40Kbps (Kilo bits per second) are common. This allocation represents what you would get speed wise if everyone was actively using the capacity at the same time and is used in budget calculations to determine the cost of a package. For products based around a BT IPstream solution, the costs are pretty much the same for all providers so if one can offer unlimited access for £14 when others are only offering 3GB it usually means higher contention i.e. less available bandwidth for you which will exhibit itself as large changes in speed between peak and off-peak times.

So what Mary Turner means is the challenge is to increase this allocation to a figure that will allow people to embrace the multi-media options available on the Internet. To say the next generation are the ones who are going to download video, stream soaps etc is possibly a bit out of date as video over a broadband connection is firmly with us.

Where things fall apart is the cost of providing capacity. Mary Turner aludes to the Tiscali core network running at only 10% of capacity and a stranglehold on fibre into the exchange from BT being the issue for the unbundled networks and the high cost of IPstream in other parts of the country. The irony is IPstream was kept at a deliberate price margin above unbundled and Datastream connections to increase competition which has worked for 50 to 70% of households.

Perhaps one solution to the current wave of publicity complaining about people paying for an up to 8Mbps but feeling they should have a reduction in price if they get less than half this speed could be resolved by shifting how broadband was sold from headline speeds to the allocated bandwidth per user. £19.99 for a 30Kbps assured speed, £29.99 for 75Kbps and so on, at any one time people would probably see speeds well in excess of these figures but would know at busy times by paying more they get a bigger slice of the pie.


Posted by Dixinormous over 9 years ago
Oh the irony of the worst performing ISP in the UK according to recent tests wittering on about bandwidth.

I remember the Tiscali core becoming saturated not that long ago too.

Pot, kettle, black. Tiscali try investing in some capacity to your own customers and shush about bandwidth / speed until you actually offer it :)
Posted by Guzzo over 9 years ago
This is so typical.
Once again we have a good idea dressed up with some nonsense.
"email, surfing, file transfers " thats waht the internet is for.
Not,"stream soaps etc ". The idea is still being pushed that the ISP should be pressured into providing a service for people to watch Videos and soaps. Thats what a TV is for.
Posted by Guzzo over 9 years ago
What twerp sits their watching Emmerdale on a 19" LCD monitor. Get a life. Also we have Satellite dishes and aerials for TV. Lets have the Net for what it is good for and designed.

If people pay for "up to 8mb" but get only 2mb than simply go to a 2mb speed company and pay less but stop moaning about it.

Posted by Guzzo over 9 years ago
Tiscali is that Italian for:

Totally Incompetent Self Crediting Awful Little Individuals?
Posted by AndrueC over 9 years ago
Someone from Tiscali actually wrote something sensible. I'm not wholely convinced that 'we are there' in terms of speed but the comments about it becoming more about the bandwidth (by which they seem to mean backhaul capacity) seem reasonable.

@Guzzo:..and I agree with you here. Until we have true VoD any kind of streamed broadcasting over BB risks being inneficient and pointless. Multicast will help if/when it becomes mainstream but it's still a dubious endeavour.

We have plenty of satellite broadcast capacity and that's fine for scheduled stuff. Leave BB to deal with true on-demand.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
HAHAHAHAHA its a story with the words, Tiscali, Speed and bandwidth in the title.... Even my PC almost crashed in fits of giggles.
Posted by Guzzo over 9 years ago
"Tiscali, Speed and bandwidth "
Posted by jrawle over 9 years ago
I'm glad someone has brought this up. I've been saying for years that people should be choosing a connection by bandwidth not speed. There's no point having a super-fast connection if you can only use it for a few minutes a day. It is ironic that it's Tiscali who've said this, though.

@Guzzo: services like the BBC iPlayer are worth having. Live programmes streamed over BB aren't.
Posted by as_nospam over 9 years ago
I have an email from Tiscali in my inbox saying

"Try and keep internet use to email and web browsing during these times", i.e. peak evening hours.

Tiscali don't want to put money into their network now, but in the future (2050?) people will watch video over the internet.

Tiscali, the future is already here!
Posted by Zebsy over 9 years ago
Tiscali are useless - just changed ISP to get away from an awful LLU Tiscali line.
My ISP were VERY reluctant to tell me that theyd moved me onto Tiscali. They didnt want me to know as they knew I'd leave if I knew.
Posted by scousetechie over 9 years ago
Quote: "The internet and broadband is not just about speed".

Well she would say that wouldn't she!
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
jrawle - for non LLU customers, no major ISP offers anything other than "as little as possible". Your soloution?
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
Tiscali are bang on here I am amazed its them coming out saying it, what have I been saying on the forums? currently uk averages 30kbit allocation per end user on ipstream whilst others have moved on to 100kbit and more meaning ipstream on average is contended 3 times the amount of other broadband countries and some LLU. The proposed solution in the article is rubbish tho, noone is going to pay for an assured rate of 75kbit/sec in reality the rate per end user just needs to go up end of story and if it means prices go up so be it let people moan and groand and just get on with it.
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
GUZZO I guess I need a life as I prefer watching tv on my pc. Your argument is mute however you claim the internet should not be for multimedia but just for browsing websites and email, if that were the case then whats the point of high speed broadband, 8mbit wont be utilised loading a typical website.
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
If you do a quick maths calculation 30kbit assigned bandwidth at point of sale on a potential 7150kbit = 238:1 contention.
If you assume average bandwidth is 4000kbit due to long lines etc. then contention works out at 133:1. and people thought the old 50:1 was high :)
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
This is why its bad to have no contention ratio in product description people things like this can happen without breaking the terms of service. If adsl max was sold with the same 50:1 contention ration then bandwidth per end user would be a minimal 80kbit if 4000kbit was assumed to be the average.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 9 years ago
Issue was that under the margin squeeze test this meant higher prices to provider 80Kbps, look back at the old prices for Home 2000, which you could project a cost of £70 to £80 a month for an 8Mbps connection.

Prices I think need to rise or those with unlimited come clean about what they really expect people to be able to use in a month.

We generally pay a fair chunk of money for things like satellite/cable TV, but seem to be unwilling to spend more on broadband as we start to make that our core entertainment package.
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
yes at current central pricing the cost of providing that bandwidth is extreme, something needs to give. Like you said retail prices need to come up but at the same time BTw need to give and drop wholesale central pricing, if they cannot do this due to angry shareholders then increase the costs of adsl ports to claw the money back.
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
My ukonline connection has 30:1 contention ratio so using the 4000kbit formula ukonle are actually providing 100kbit per end user on their LLU network this goes some way to explaining why they dont have to traffic shape.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
"My ukonline connection has 30:1 contention ratio" so they say, but you have no way of knowing if it's true.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
Andrew - ISP's have backed themselves into a corner. People are not going to pay higher prices because they dom't see watching a few vidoes, doing some streaming and playing something which uses p2p for patching as "high usage". And it's not *high*, it's just that *everyone* is now doing it.

I know several small ISP owners. They're working on exit strategies because of BT's pricing.
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
herdwick they legally obliged to honour it as its part of the product description. I cant know for sure true but I can tell you I can download upto my line speed day and night even for 12 hour sessions. The contention ratio is clearly lower than all my older isps.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote""My ukonline connection has 30:1 contention ratio" so they say, but you have no way of knowing if it's true."

ROFLMFAO Yeah they lie dont they, i spose they also deliberately throttle stuff and deny it like your precious BT. Christ sake wake up LOL
If there is no way of knowing they honor their quoted 30:1 there is no way to know if BT or anyone else honor their quoted contention figures.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"herdwick they legally obliged to honour it as its part of the product description. I cant know for sure true but I can tell you I can download upto my line speed day and night even for 12 hour sessions. The contention ratio is clearly lower than all my older isps."
Give up mate. Next he is gonna claim next what you and i can do with regards to maxing our line for extended periods is Black Magic.
I just cant figure out if herdwick just loves BT, if he is jealous of people that can get sky, ukonline or bethere or he is just a shareholder in BT or similar.
Posted by CaptainW over 9 years ago
I don't think Tiscali were the first to talk about the demand for bandwith. When Sky announced their purchase of Easynet and the months on the ramp up to launching their domestic broadband service, he spoke about the demand for bandwith at every opportunity.
Posted by jtwebb over 9 years ago
I have just upgraded from 2Mb to 8Mb on Tiscali. Wow I now get about 800Kb each way - DSL!!! Also, Tiscali obvuiously have nobody in their support organisation as I can not get any help.
Posted by Guzzo over 9 years ago
More ranting about I watch TV on my PC? yo ho ho. I don't need 8mb they give it to me anyway. If someone offers me 2mb for 50 gig allownce at £12 a month I will take. Anyone who thinks they will watch HD TV streaming Video all night smooth and wonderful is living in cookoo land.
Posted by Guzzo over 9 years ago
you are going to need 50mb downstream and a contention ratio of 2-5 :1! It will cost £100 a month. SKY freeview costs me NOTHING DUH!If you think the ISP's or HM Labour are going to invest 500 Billion and wait 50 years to realise a profit so the tiny few can watch TV on the PC dream on.
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Phew zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
Whats ironic in all of this what is tiscalis excuse? as they dont even use ipstream.
Posted by the_inspector007 over 9 years ago
I can only dream of even receiving 1MB download from anybody! Considering I live less than 2 miles from a major city in the UK I don't even receive 512K. Because of this I very rarely even use the net at home and utilise the technology more at work. Will 21CN make this situation better for me?? I don't care what Tiscali say at all!!
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
21CN will lower speeds and raise prices, especially on smaller exchanges.
Posted by Somerset over 9 years ago
Dawn_Falcon - why will 21CN lower speeds, especially on smaller exchnages?

Lower than they are now?
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"Dawn_Falcon - why will 21CN lower speeds, especially on smaller exchnages?"
cos the lucky few close by will be milking it something cronic at 24Mb while the yoink in the middle of nowwhere will still only get 2Mb max and their service potentially going even slower as their ISP struggles to give all the 24Mb capable people the bandwidth leading to more contention.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago

No, because the costs to ISP's are much higher for 21CN and non-tier 1 exchanges will have a high premium.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote" the costs to ISP's are much higher for 21CN"

Ive said from the very beginning BT 21CN and their ADSL2+ will mean prices for a consumer will either increase or at best remain the same all the while why others argued 21CN will cost them less... BT gets fatter again while the poor ISPs struggle with the bills (AGAIN) and the consumer has to start paying more (AGAIN) even though on average most of the country still wont see anything over say 4Mb speeds :(
Posted by paul45 over 9 years ago
I was briefly on Tiscali. It was horrible. I triggered the Fair Usage warning immediately, and got a further two warnings threatening throttling. I asked what had triggered it since they never said what really constituted fair usage, and I had not done much downloading in peak hours.

The email I got back said 'downloading files of 50Mb or more'. Can you believe that?! That's like one album. God knows how they're coping with people that want to use iPlayer or anything else that's totally 'fair usage'.
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