The announcement a couple of weeks ago that Jersey was looking to invest in ensuring a superfast broadband structure across the island by the treasury investing millions along with money from Jersey Telecom has gained a vocal opponent.
It appears that Airtel-Vodafone feels that spending on fibre is not needed and that mobile broadband technologies can achieve the same goal, particularly given the rise of smartphones and tablets.
Jersey Telecom themselves ran a small 4G trial on the island earlier this year, and AirTel-Vodafone claims to have the best 2G/3G coverage of the island. Alas 3G while it can provide speeds approaching ADSL connections, generally fails once people start to consume larger volumes of data. This is perhaps why mobile broadband usage in the UK runs at 0.24GB a month, versus 17GB for fixed broadband services.
4G does offer faster headline speeds, and if built around a suitable core network there is scope for much higher inclusive data allowances, but for business use options like unlimited data packages, static IP addressing, support for IPv6, custom reverse DNS and other factors are all too often missing from mobile broadband packages. In the UK even if a business user wanted to pay more to ensure a better slice of the pie at peak times, there is not that option.
Looking into the crystal ball, we can see tablets and mobile phones increasing their display resolution, and thus consumers will start to seek out HD feeds of films and catch-up TV services, creating a data consumption explosion. Additionally while tablets are fashion item of today, and can be useful in business, the standard business tasks are still based around larger devices and software services moving towards a cloud architecture favour the use of fixed infrastructure to ensure quality of service. A fibre based solution also offers a clear and easy upgrade path in the future, with 1 Gbps possible now, compared to the current promise of 25 Mbps real world, perhaps 50 Mbps from a 4G service.
Jersey Telecom is state owned, so to see a commercial operator that was hoping to expand its mobile broadband usage, worried that ubiquitous fibre would result in people not using 3G or 4G very much is perhaps to be expected.