These past twelve months have yet again been interesting for broadband users as more and more of us are able to access super-fast fibre optic broadband from smaller projects such as Gigaclear in Oxfordshire to large fibre rollouts by BT. We have seen announcements of more support funding for a number of regional projects. According to Ofcom, by mid-2012, 63% of households had access to super-fast broadband.
At the beginning of the year we reported that Andrew Crossley of ACS Law Solicitors had been suspended for two years by the Solicitors Regulation Authority following a 'speculative invoicing' fiasco. Despite this a new company, Golden Eye, has only recently been granted a court order to force broadband provider O2 to supply details of a thousand customers. Unlike ACS Law, Golden Eye is not a firm of solicitors regulated by the SRA.
In February, Openreach announced its intention to offer fibre-on-demand in 2013 with indicative pricing announced only a few weeks ago. Ofcom also announced some changes in how telephone and broadband service migrations would work, although we await to see the effects.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the March budget that the cities of Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle would join Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London in the super-connected cities project, receiving millions in funding for delivering ultrafast broadband coverage to 1.7 million households and 200,000 businesses by 2015.
A number of larger broadband providers were ordered by Ms Justice Arnold to block access, to the Pirate Bay, a website implicated in the distribution of copyrighted content. Access remains possible through technical workarounds, but the Pirate Party operated proxy server has just recently been shut down.
We launched our new broadband factsheet in June which has received much positive feedback. It is our aim to continue to update the factsheet on a quarterly basis
In July, Sky launched its IPTV service requiring no satellite subscription and Openreach launched its fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) service, although availability is still quite limited. Sky unbundled its 2000th telephone exchange rivalling BT Wholesale in terms of network size; TalkTalk reaching over 90% of UK households on its unbundled network.
Fluidata established its wholesale broadband aggregation platform to bundle the vast array of smaller regional super-fast fibre projects as well as larger ones such as Digital Region in Yorkshire and enable a number of broadband providers to provide services to end-users.
Soon after stepping into her role as Secretary of State for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Maria Miller announced that the government was planning changes which should make it easier for broadband infrastructure providers to roll out super-fast broadband by simplifying the planning process or in some cases removing the need for planning permission for some types of broadband infrastructure. The changes are unlikely to come into law until sometime in the coming year.
Everything Everywhere (or EE as we are supposed to call them now) reached an agreement with Ofcom in November to permit them to launch the UK's first commercial 4G LTE service, despite complaints from rival operators about spectrum. The service has been welcomed but cautiously as speeds vary dramatically depending on the area.
Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), the organisation responsible for distributing funds to support broadband rollout received EU State Aid Approval in November following concerns about the delays to the process. In December, Ainderby Steeple being the first area to benefit.
The Olympics was the highlight for many across the UK in 2012 and we saw providers upgrading their capacity to cope with demand, mostly successfully as we had very few reports of major problems.
We have many plans for 2013 we'd love to talk about, but those will have to wait ;)
In the meantime, we'd like to thank everyone involved in making this all possible, in particular our staff and volunteers without whom we couldn't run this site. Thank you to our loyal visitors—it's really rewarding when we get e-mails from many of you telling us how we've helped you make a good decision or solve a problem.
Happy New Year!
Sebastien & John