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Broadband on agenda in House of Commons
Thursday 22 November 2012 11:51:10 by Andrew Ferguson

ITV has a clip from the House of Commons where their spokesperson on media issues had the following to say on the current state of broadband roll-out.

"Ofcom published figures which show that 10%, that's 5 million people, have no access to broadband what so ever."

Bishop Auckland MP, Helen Goodman

The 90% having access to broadband was announced by Ofcom recently, but it should be made totally clear that the Ofcom 90% figure refers to broadband connecting at 2 Mbps or faster. The number having any form of broadband what so ever will be higher, and while this may be so slow that even low quality video streaming is not possible, basic email/banking should be possible on any broadband service that is running above dial-up speeds.

"1.3 Current generation broadband is available in close to 100% of premises in the UK. Overall take-up of fixed broadband services is now around 71% of UK premises.

1.4 The Government is committed to ensuring that, by 2015, almost all premises in the UK will be able to access a basic broadband service of at least 2Mbit/s, through the Universal Service Commitment (USC). We have seen significant progress to this target over the last year, and expect this to continue:

  • We found that 10% of all UK connections had fixed broadband speeds of less than 2Mbit/s this year, a significant improvement on the 14% recorded last year.
  • Many consumers now have the option to switch to superfast services to improve their speeds, and others could improve their speeds by addressing in-home wiring issues. Together, these actions could go a long way to delivering the Government's ambition. For those still unable to receive 2Mbit/s via a fixed network, other technologies are becoming available, such as satellite broadband and 4G mobile broadband.

Fixed broadband
Coverage of broadband at 2Mbit/s or more - 89.9% of existing connections
Coverage of superfast broadband - 65% of premises"

Ofcom broadband statistics

This exchange is interesting, because of the recent poll results we published, that reveal the public has little confidence in either party actually delivering on their broadband promises, and exchanges like this where facts take second place to attempts to be seen as the better party are not helping matters.

In theory it could be said that 8 Mbps broadband is available to around 99.9% of the population if one were to include satellite services like toowayDirect, and their £29.99 per month service offers 8 Meg down and 2 Meg up, so beats ADSL services. With self install options available the cost of installation has dropped and the dish can also be used to receive Sky/FreeSat with an extra LNB module. Of course there are the usage limits, and inability to do some latency sensitive tasks such as first person shooters, but it is an option.


Posted by camieabz over 4 years ago
Politicians are regularly misinformed on the details. How much of it is wilful on their part to make headlines is debatable.

What confidence can we have in them if they debate things on the wrong premise?
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
I think you'll find that the lack of confidence extends to everything. The only thing I'm confident they'll do is abuse their power and fiddle their expenses.
Posted by mervl over 4 years ago
The House of Commons is a kindergarten for big children. It has been so for as long as I can remember.
Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
All the above, BUT, back on topic..............

I, in my ignorance, thought that the USC was no longer a USC? I had assumed it was the words 'Universal', 'Service' and 'Commitment' that frightened HMG off the idea. Have we now re-spun to calling it that? Did I miss that or have OfCom been sleeping?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
The main thing we need to inform politicians about is that the current plan to use cabinets is only a stopgap. It will make many go faster, but anything to do with phone lines is already expensive and obsolete. We should give them the real facts. On dead trees. Via the gorgeous looking PA they all seem to have.
Posted by Danh_Gbwe over 4 years ago
Politicians aren't in the least bit interested in facts.
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
I agree with you that our MPs need the real facts, many of which can be found in the Ofcom Infrastructure report published this week. Sadly the "real facts" bear no relation to the remainder of your comments, which I regret to say represent an ill informed opinion, not based on the facts.
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
Not an ill informed opinion, but a biased campaigning stance.
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
"In theory it could be said that 8 Mbps broadband is available to around 99.9% of the population if one were to include satellite services" - why "in theory" - it's a broadband service isn't it ? If only the cost is the issue then it becomes Iain Duncan Smith territory rather than a technical problem.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
'in theory' because not all services that run on fixed line or fixed wireless broadband will run on a satellite service.

While gaming is not everyones cup of tea, it is very big market, more than music/film.

The other issue is whether the usage allowances are sensible for the price.
Posted by WWWombat over 4 years ago
For me, the problem with considering satellite to offer 8Mbps to 99.9% of the UK is that, while it can look good from the perspective of 1 rural customer - it can't deliver that for 28 million - just insufficient capacity.

I found this info on the Hylas-1 satellite (Ka-band, 2010 launch for UK/EU):
"8 downlink Ka beams 250 MHz each, assume 500 Mbit/s each, total = 4000 Mbit/s
Various reports suggest 150,000 to 350,000 users."

At 100:1 contention, that's enough for 50,000 customers of the 8Mbps service - or 0.1% of the UK properties. But it targets the whole EU.
Posted by WWWombat over 4 years ago
Eutelsat's Ka-band satellite has a total of 70Gbps capacity (so 900,000 subscribers @100:1 contention of 8Mbps), but it looks like only 5 (of 82) beams would serve the UK - or around 50,000 subscribers in total.

That's two of the biggest players with the current generation of broadband (ie cheapest for the subscriber)

(I'm not sure the 100:1 contention is a good way to work out the max subscribers. YMMV)
Posted by WWWombat over 4 years ago
The statistics seem to show that the UK has 300,000 farms, and 185,000 full-time farmers.

The current generation of satellite technology (and number of satellites providing UK footprint) don't look like they'd even be able to support our most isolated properties - farms - never mind any other settlements.
Posted by WWWombat over 4 years ago
From another perspective. If Plusnet's performance graphs are to be believed, last night peak hour they carried 48Gbps (downstream) for 540,000 connected subscribers.

That's 0.09Mbps on average, for every connection.

At that rate, Hylas-1 can handle 44k subscribers and the Eutelsat one can handle 780k (47k in the UK).
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
That capacity pinch is probably why the usage allowances are so miserly. They can't afford to have people clogging up the link.
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
Perhaps those 185,000 full-time farmers could use some of their share of the £50bn or so of Common Agricultural Policy funds per annum(!) from the EU to pay for access to the internet.

Do they really need even more subsidy from the rest of us? Just a thought.
Posted by WWWombat over 4 years ago
LOL. In which case the French farmers can subsidise broadband for the whole EU!
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
Great thought! The CAP for one year i sgetting on for 10 TIMES more that the proposed total investment in broadband by the EU over the whole of its next budget period (2014 to 2020 I think?).

I'd far rather see more money going into something that can help jobs and growth than into subsidy for inefficient farmers. Its about time they were weaned off at least some of the lavish subsidy and bacame more efficent.
Posted by AspieMum over 4 years ago
I can't get 2MBs and neither can I get 3G/4G so my options are severely limited for speeding up my broadband.
Posted by AspieMum over 4 years ago
Satellite at £30 a month is too much for many people & even benefits will be expected to be claimed via the internet. I addition if they expect us to use that its a premium on living on the wrong estate for me & many landlords don't like you putting stuff up on the house.
Posted by AspieMum over 4 years ago
Satellite broadband is going to need a satellite dish and if your landlord won' let you put one up its not an option unless you can move (which isn't always possible)
Posted by finaldest over 4 years ago
Government should scrap the pointless HS2 project and use the money for a national FTTP rollout.
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