BT Wholesale changes mind on WBC speeds
Journalists were invited to the lair of BT Wholesale close to Gatwick Airport a few weeks ago for a briefing on the ADSL2+ product Wholesale Broadband Connect that is due to launch on a limited number of exchanges in the next few weeks.
PC Pro journalist Barry Collins who was at the briefing noted at the time that BT Wholesale estimated that some 50% of lines would connect at 12Mbps or better. It seems now that someone in BT Wholesale has gone back over the data from the lab tests and trials and issued revised estimates.
"I can confirm that the figure which states that 50% of UK households can expect to achieve speeds of 6.3-9.3Mb/sec is the latest lab trial data.
However, it is very difficult to predict the actual speeds that customers will receive once WBC [BT Wholesale Broadband Connect] is rolled out on a nationwide scale. "BT Wholesale spokesperson on WBC speeds
The actual estimates BT Wholesale are currently suggesting are:
- We would expect 10% of lines to get at worst 12.1Mbps or more (and more typically 16.3Mbps or more)
- 25% of lines to get at worst 10.9Mbps or more (and more typically 14.7Mbps or more)
- 50% of lines to get at worst 6.3Mbps or more (and more typically 9.3Mbps or more)
- 75% of lines to get at worst 3.3Mbps or more (and more typically 5.0Mbps or more)
The estimates do not look that different to what we suggested back in 2006 for ADSL2+ which suggested some 42% of lines will run at 9.5Mbps or faster with ADSL2+. It should be pointed out that we are talking about connection speeds- the actual download speed from websites and speed testers will be less than these figures due to network protocol overheads, contention and general internet conditions. Hopefully, as was found with ADSL in the eight years it has been live in the UK, in many cases it will out perform expectations. For example, during the original roll-out, ADSL was only available on telephone lines shorter than 3.5km.
Let us hope that broadband providers take on board what is happening with regards to public/press reaction to the current 'up to 8Mbps' advertising and not market ADSL2+ with phrases like 'broadband speeds double or treble what you have now'. Of course, the LLU operators have been selling ADSL2+ for a while and some use 16Mbps as the ceiling for 'up to' descriptions. They also generally provide guidance to people on what speeds can be expected when ordering the service. Where a lot of the problems possibly stem from in the ADSL world is bulk upgrades when people just got sent a generic marketing-speak email promising a big speed improvement for no price rise or a small upgrade fee.