While the latest publications from Ofcom fall just short of the classic top ten tips beloved of consumer technology magazines which are something we're often asked to contribute towards in the last fifteen years, the fact that Ofcom is publishing more consumer friendly guides shows a change in direction for the regulator.
Ofcom is tasked with the job of deciding what to do with Openreach and it has numerous options, the least likely option is to leave things exactly as they are now and the Connected Nations Report 2015 will be used to back up any decisions made (this annual report was previously called the Infrastructure report).
One of the major problems for Ofcom is the time taken to produce its lengthy reports and making sure data is current, for example the coverage information is recycled from the Communications Market Report published on 6th August 2015, thus the 83% superfast coverage figure six months or more out of date. For those wanting to make comparisons across Europe and further afield given the difficulty in acquiring similar data from other countries this is probably considered very recent data. Of course we have our own availability checker that we endeavour to update at least once a week that also combines analysis from our speed test so people can assess whether the roll-outs are actually having an effect as people upgrade.
The Wi-Fi checker is an interesting little tool, but in its current form seems to be a simple ping tool, looking at latency to the home gateway (broadband router) and checking for any packet loss. As a way of mapping Wi-Fi coverage in a home its simplicity compared to analysing more techie tools may be useful, but as always the ultimate test is what your actual device manages, be that a Chromecast plugging into the back of the TV or a games console in a teenagers attic room. The Wi-Fi tool is part of a two year research programme into what effect the home network can have on the broadband experience.
One bit of advice missing from the Wi-Fi tool is that to get the total fast Wi-Fi coverage in a property you may need an additional wireless access point (or wireless extender) in conjunction with your ISP supplied broadband router. Advice on moving your primary router to a better location may be a false economy for ADSL and FTTC based services since longer cables on the phone side may reduce speeds and it could tempt people to place the router on a more convenient telephone extension socket impacting the incoming broadband speed even more.
Page 26 of the Connected Nations report suggests that the USC was set by Government in 2009 and thus is in its third Parliament and actually has a target date of the end of 2016, which is news to us and probably many of our readers who expected there to be some last minute announcements in 2015 as the satellite voucher broadband schemes are expanded from pilots to cover the full UK.