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UK ranks 25th in quality of broadband networks
Thursday 01 October 2009 03:22:29 by John Hunt

A study looking at the quality of broadband networks has ranked the UK 25th out of 66 countries. The study conducted jointly by Oxford University's Säid Business School and the University of Oviedo's Department of Applied Economics, on behalf of Cisco, looked at whether broadband connections were fit for today's use by looking at applications consumers use such as sharing photos, video calls on Skype, and watching online video. Two thirds of the countries were ready for today's requirements, but only 9 were ready for future applications such as high definition video. The UK ranked 25th, a one place drop from last year.

"It can be a bit misleading to look at the rankings. The important thing is whether the broadband quality of a country is good enough for today's needs and the UK falls well within this category.

We forecast the UK will improve because of things such as cable networks being upgraded and the Digital Britain report focusing on next generation access."

Joanne Hughes, (Communications Manager) Cisco

The tests indicated that countries would need an average download speed of 11.25 Mbps and an upload of 5 Mbps to be 'comfortable' for future applications. The average globally was a download of 4.75 Mbps, and upload of 1.3 Mbps. To attain this average speed, faster services would need to be more widely deployed and chosen by consumers, such as the 50meg cable-broadband service from Virgin Media or fibre to the home which can offer peak speeds of up to 100 Mbps.

If you're thinking of moving, the following countries were deemed to have broadband that is 'ready for tomorrow': Korea, Japan, Sweden, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Netherlands, Romania and Denmark. A full table of the tested countries and their status is available from BBC news.


Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
This story is wrong, for quality we are 31st. We're 25th on a different scale which includes penetration of broadband, not just quality.
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
Overall the report confirms what I think - the UK is doing okay but needs to keep its eye on the ball. If/when the new high bandwidth application appears we might struggle a bit before we catch up but at least we haven't spent billions on something we don't currently need.
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
If being behind such tech powerhouses such as Latvia and Russia is ok then yes we're doing ok. Problem is there's no money to spend billions given BT are broke and the government coffers are empty so they'll be tapping up everyone via their landline.

Glad you set your sights so high and have no trouble with 'struggling a bit before we catch up'. Meanwhile companies and services that need that quality avoid us like the plague and we're left behind.
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
It also speaks volumes about the regulator. Ed Richards sits in his New Labour ivory tower feeling so pleased about the level of competition in the UK and we do indeed have one of the most competitive markets anywhere however this clearly hasn't translated into good services, just cheap ones.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
"The research was based on 24 million speed tests done in 66 countries via"

Right. Sorry, get back to me when a reliable base is used.

What "companies and services" are avoiding the UK Dixi? Cite? See, people say thing but they never provide /examples/ (And sure, Ofcom is useless...)
Posted by mikeblogs over 7 years ago
Todays latency 95ms, tomorrows good latency 60ms, - 1 byte packet is about 20ms anywhere in the UK and back, it is the variation under load levels we need to determine user experience and the variation caused by each ISP practices.

The planning rules should be publised as part of the TOS and I struggling to find this data in BTs SINs

Cisco paid for this!
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
I did wonder when someone would comment on the data used. Right, like Oviedo / Oxford Uni know nothing. Inaccuracy would I imagine be fairly uniform, there are no boogiemen who want to skew the results against the UK.

Note my comment about companies discussing the future and the 'catch up' Andrue mentioned, not the present.

I appreciate the survey likely disagrees with your previously stated view that we're fine and BT are doing a stand-up job because we have coverage, it actually agrees with the coverage part, just the total lack of a high end where it would be viable.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
It's a self-selected set of data. You can't draw conclusions on things like average net speeds from it for "countries", only "users of this site in those countries", which is not the same thing at all.

And when I have I stated that? UK broadband coverage is good, speeds are something which need work.

You can, you know, ask what my actual views are rather than spewing crap I didn't say.
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
I'd suggest you speak with the people who produced the survey, the BBC, Reuters, etc, appear to have no issues with the accuracy of it.

My other comment is based around your previous comments on here, which deflected criticism from BT and constantly pointed at coverage as a redeeming factor, I remember well a conversation regarding France where my comments on FTTP deployment there were met with comments regarding it being ok as BT have better coverage...
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
loool. Media...actually do proper surveys without bias?

And your statement is based on your predudice. Nothing else. Trying to push it off onto anything else is rapidly approaching "pathetic" terratory.
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
The media didn't do the survey, Oxford University and Uni of Oviedo did. Have you actually looked at the data?

And no, I mentioned FTTP in France your response was to produce a map of coverage in France and comment on BT's superior coverage. That's not 'prejudice' that's just a reminder of your own words.

As you appear to have forgotten
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
'Posted by Dawn_Falcon 7 months ago
Yea, Dixi, and about 3.25 million houses in France are passed by FTTH, with at best 5 million by the same time BT will be covering over 10.

Also, their ADSL coverage is far less widespread than the UK's.'
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
Anyway apologies to other people for taking this off on a tangent.

UK - coverage good, speeds pants. See how things improve in next year's report when Virgin Media's 50Mbit product has had a chance to improve things, and BT have finally started deploying FITL.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
I know precisely what I said, and you're distorting the context to suit your aims. That quote was talking about coverage, not speeds. Which is...quite plain.

I'll repeat my actual comment on speeds:

"Your focus on headline speeds above useability, reliability and coverage is at this point quite clear."

Which remains entirely true.
Posted by Bryan-Tansley over 7 years ago
Question. Who decides what our 'needs' are? because quite frankly it does not suit my needs.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
AndrueC when it comes to IT/internet you dont play catchup, playing catchup is failing. Put the infrastructure in place first, let it be under utilised etc. and the demand comes later.
Posted by herdwick over 7 years ago
VM's 50M service will only impact this survey if a) people splash out to use it and b) they use

I wonder why the survey found virtually no urban / rural difference with 10,20 and 50M cable available ?
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
80+% availability of >20Mbps DSL probably helps, along with that Ofcom's mismanagement of the market keeping prices and quality of service on the floor.

With VM's upgrade from 2 to 10 in their areas the divide may become wider again, but right now it's really no the issue.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
chrysalis - That's historically been true. But the rate of increase in demand has also fallen sharply, and existing infrastructure has created an ever higher barrier to new products.

(i.e. Government funding/policy is required. And you better hope Labour get back in!)
Posted by big_bubbaloola over 7 years ago
Ya know Dawn, i'm a regular visitor to the site but I rarely pass comment, but I got to say that I respect you for trying to argue your position when pretty much everyone else takes an opposing view (you do work for BT right?). But this survey (with it's flaws) points in the right direction that something needs to give. And thinking that the current idiots in power are any better than the other clowns waiting in the wings is positivley Quixotic.
Posted by big_bubbaloola over 7 years ago
Also can someone please explain how is a flawed resource? I'm not as tech savy as most here, and i'm just curious.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
No, big_bubbaloola, I don't work for BT. It's more that I'm pretty strict on seeing the business case for tech... in the case of FTTH there are major issues.

The problem with are twofold: one is that it's very much self-selected in the people who use it, and two often people run speedtests when they think there's a problem on their connection, distorting the results.
Posted by big_bubbaloola over 7 years ago
So your basically saying that a more accurate source is one test that is run once at a constant time of day/week, not to be run again from that hardline?
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
That'd be a better baseline, yes.
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
It should be considered however that where we are discussing where countries are in these rankings we are talking about *relative* speeds. There is absolutely nothing to suggest that the UK's usage of differs from anyone else, so while it may be of limited value for 'absolutes' it is most certainly of value for comparison.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago

I have a half-dozen tests on there showing sub-dialup speeds, for example, from a single evening when there was a BB problem.

More, the servers avaliable are spotty in location and for example trying the "local" server gets about 10% of the speed of the London more.

So yea...
Posted by Capn over 7 years ago
Well unless you can be sure of how people use then there is no way it can be used with any credibility.
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
Of course, and the rest of the world I'm sure have absolutely no tests done to sub-optimal locations, no tests done when there were issues, etc. It's just the UK that have tests that aren't perfect 100% line rate 100% of the time.

I am sure some statistical gubbins was done on the data and it wasn't simply turfed straight out of the database and onto a spreadsheet.

Our incumbent is still yet to release FTTC commercially, countries with more fibre rich networks than us beat us in the survey, the end.

You know for someone who doesn't work for BT...
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
You know, for someone who left the country...

And I don't see any information on data normalisation and such, if there was information like that then I'd need to read it.

And yes, countries which skipped straight for inadequate networks to fibre have smaller, higher speed internet access areas. But the government knew what it wanted from BT, and it was ADSL...
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
BTW the survey claims the average download speed in the UK to be 4.6Mbit, 0.5Mbit faster than Ofcom's figure from April 2009.

So unless Ofcom also rigged the results of their tests in co-operation with the Samknows Performance Network it would appear that the figure given in this survey is about right.

It should be noted that 22% of the value of the quality test was upload, we're hardly going to excel in that, because we don't have any fibre in our local loops and limited cable coverage.

Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
Rory Cellan-Jones has a write-up on this:
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
It's no surprise, thanks to the self-selection factor, that the average speeds are higher. Equally, it's a good indicator that it's not reprisentative (and an error factor of...what... 11% in speeds from the very good Ofcom survey shows that clearly!).

Again, I'm far less interested in the past than what to /do/ about it, and that means - afaik - government funding. I've challenged and I've challenged people to come up with examples of deacent existing infrastructure overcome about it, and there ain't none (and no, Verizon IS funded)
Posted by Gzero over 7 years ago
Still 50/20mb is pretty impressive compared to 50/1.5mb. Maybe I should add commas :)


Lighten up guys, our internet still sucks no matter how rosie a picture the sales teams try to paint.

Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
was gonna comment on this thread, but winston is a bit tired. will have to upgrade my pigeon.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
ah go-an then, mrs doyle raises her head once more.
The writing is on the wall for the UK telcos. The tide is turning Dawn.Even the journos like Rory are catching up and realising that digitalbritain is in the slow lane on obsolete copper, and waiting for a business case it will be too late. better just get gov to JFDI and let the UK economy pay back the govt with the taxes it will reap in the global village?
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
What products? Where are the economic predictions you've done and can link to?

Your magic bit's set on again, hasn't it.
Posted by bosie over 7 years ago
Public funds are wasted every day and too much analysis can have the opposite desired effect - by delaying the conclusion we could end up with sincere regret. Sometimes we must jump feet first, or as some might say - take a leap of faith - with Government funds it may be necessary.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
OK, let's jump. With what and where?
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
@bosie:So what you're saying is that because the government has already squandered billions or even trillions of pounds and has a track record of projects running late and over budget..

..we should get them to finance one of the biggest and most complicated projects yet?

That surely has to be one of silliest reasons for committing public funds to this.
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
A public fibre network should - like the grid - be a public service. I don't see why it's unreasonable to get the taxpayer to fund a nationwide rollout of fibre, so long as it's not being funded just so that one company can monopolise it.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
Elbobbo - All ISPs have access to the Openreach network don't they?
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
At higher than cost; if we're going to fund a network, it should be without giving it to the BT Group so that they can make a margin.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
The grid isn't a public service. It's owned by National Grid Plc. under a service mandate, much as BT has a service mandate for POTS services.

It's entirely appropriate to put a further mandate on BT for it accepting money to build out services. Otherwise, you'll end up wasting billions duplicating BT's network.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 7 years ago
"At higher than cost"

Not at the current LLU price it isn't
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
The national grid created from 1926 due to the Electricity Supply Act certainly was a public service, funded by the Government and creating a single synchronized high voltage grid. It was privatised in 1990 but that's neither here nor there.

Plus, if we do move to FTTH the only thing BT's going to have that's of use is the existing fibre; none of their interconnects/MSILs are faster than gigabit so all of their equipment will have to be upgraded.
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
Got any numbers for that, wirelesspacman? Ofcom recently raised the 2009/10 price, but BT's actual costs are rarely published and almost definitely deserve to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
From the 2008 Ofcom report, "A New Pricing Framework for Openreach" it seems that Ofcom believes that Openreach does not believe that the charges for MPF and SMPF rentals are too low; compared to the European average Openreach costs are either at or higher than comparable costs on the continent. Hence, they suggest Openreach's costing methodologies and efficiency levels should be examined.
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
err, read "it seems that Ofcom does not believe that the charges..."
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
Of course it's both here and there. The national grid's private, you were clearly wrong, and the situation with BT getting funding for a next-gen network would be close to /identical/.

Oh, and BT rolled out 10 gig gear ages ago...

And Ofcom can believe what they like, costs are costs (largely based on UK-pricing factors) and they /should/ be covered, or BT is, as at present, funding LLU operators directly.
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
Oh, so which company got public funding to build the National Grid?

How many of Openreach's MSILs are 10G?

Ofcom's in a much better position to know more than you about anything, it seems.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
No company got funding to build the National (I assume you mean electricity) Grid.

•31 March 1990 - Electricity industry privatised (National Grid owned by 12 Regional Electricity Companies)
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago

The point, is of course, that the National Grid were privatised from a public company in precisely the same way BT were.

BT does not currently get any sort of significant government funding...

(And yes, they also know a heck lot more than YOU do)
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
'the only thing BT's going to have that's of use is the existing fibre'.

What about duct, buildings, support organisation, infrastructure etc.?
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
Somerset: Of course, American ISP's are rolling out 40's, but that's another rant, heh.
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
Somerset - and what's the number of 10G MSILs currently operating?

Dawn - Why should the public pay the BT Group to roll out fibre just to line the pockets of BT's shareholders, hmm? Unless you have a vested interest, of course.

And my point was that when the government funded the National Grid it was a public service. They privatised it later, which is irrelevant.

Since we both agree that Ofcom knows what they're talking about, why don't we go with what they've said.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
So who will roll out fibre? And install new ducts across the country?

Why should we line the pockets of shareholders of construction companies? (who would argee who got what contact - maybe...).

Please remind us of the detail of the Ofcom proposal.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
Please tell us how many 10G MSILs are operating and the relevance today.
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
I was referring to Ofcom's MPF/SMPF cost ceilings.

As for which company should take on rolling out fibre, perhaps do it like the US - tiered tax breaks for companies that are rolling out NGB.
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
Somerset - Both you and Dawn claim that BT rolled out 10G MSILs, so provide the numbers.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
So how many companies would be interested in rolling out FTTH and FTTP when BT and VM have a huge networks? Even VM have not expanded across the country, why is that?

Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
So you agree National Grid make a margin on electricity supply?
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
Several companies in the US are doing it now that tax breaks are available.

It seems only reasonable given that numbers indicate more than half of UK consumers aren't satisfied with their broadband speed and that the average UK user spends 30 hours a week online. (Source: ISPreview)
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
The National Grid was privatised in the 90s, fifty years after the grid started operating nationally.
I imagine the resulting company is probably making a decent margin. So what?
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
And BT are now rolling out FTTP and FTTC, which all ISPs can access. VM have a high speed product.

Does it make sense to replicate the Openreach rollout?

Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
What rollout? They've not even got out of the trial period for FTTP yet, and Openreach's FTTC has connected up what, two customers?

As for the rest of BT's "network" you're still not giving any verifiable numbers for the MSILs.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
Why not ask BT about MSILs.

So how long would it take to start a government funded roll out of a new network? And who would own it?
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
How many homes have H2O connected in Bournemouth?
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
You provide numbers for your claim and then I'll entertain this conversation further.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
I'm not claiming anything, just given you a link.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
ElBobbit - Why should we waste billions replicating infrastucture, hmm? It's entirely appropriate to place duties on BT based on public funding, as well.

And no, I never said Ofcom "knew what they were talking about". That's another example of your lying. I said they knew more than you.
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
Actually, you said "And yes, they also know a heck lot more than YOU do". Also.
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
Do try to keep up.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
ElBobbo - re BT FTTC:

Currently there is an operational pilot running in Whitchurch, Cardiff and Muswell Hill, London, covering over 30,000 premises across the two locations. To date, seven UK communications providers are actively placing orders and further communications providers are expected to join the pilot later this year. Over 200 end user customers have been connected to date across these two pilot locations, while Openreach expects to connect thousands of end user customers across the two pilot sites by the end of this year
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
Hmm, 200 trial customers in three months, could be worse.
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