Opal identifies broadband hotspots
Opal has published a report that attempts to identify areas where subscribers to its low price business grade broadband offering would benefit most from ADSL2+. CommsDealer Online covers the report and reveals that apparently Central London EC, WC and W postcodes are the places to be if you want high speed ADSL2+, almost half the businesses in those areas would be able to achieve a connection between 8 and 24Mbps. Belfast apparently does well, followed by Glasgow. The Opal website will have more detail on the report.
Back in October 2006 we published a table showing roughly what proportion of lines across the country will get various ADSL and ADSL2+ speeds.
At the simplest level you can use this table to assess what your possible connection speed with ADSL2+ would be. The most accurate method though is to take the current attenuation, noise margin and line rates from your ADSL modem and use a tool like the one at www.farina1.com/adsl. The checker will display specific results based on your data, and also a range of speeds allowing you to assess whether your line is running within what could be called a normal range. If the results you get are very poor, it is worth checking the telephone extension wiring in your home, the simplest method being to take a set of readings when the ADSL modem is connected to the test socket under the master sockets faceplate.
The Broadband Code of Practice from Ofcom should mean that if you get around to signing up for broadband, providers will give you an indication of the connection speed they expect you to get, and many providers will run this check well before you have committed to buying from them. Of course there is always the BT Wholesale based checker, which gives a couple of numbers and is actually used as the basis of the Code of Practice answer from many providers. The wholesale checker first gives an estimate of which fixed speed service you would be allowed, i.e. 0.5Meg, 1Meg or 2Meg, then a value for the Max products which will vary between 0.25Mbps and 8Mbps. Finally, in areas where the 21CN network has been deployed it will provide an ADSL2+ estimate.
Going back to the Opal report, it is actually promoting their business broadband products which start at £10 a month. For those who are not familiar with the Opal name, they are part of the Carphone Warehouse group and actually run the unbundled network and hardware behind the TalkTalk and AOL services. Whether £10 can buy you a business grade service is open to debate. You do also need to rent an Opal telephone line at £13 a month to get the broadband. As a general rule the lower the price of broadband the higher the contention levels, since the main way to lower broadband prices is to share the same big expensive back haul pipe between more people. Opal appears to use traffic management to give business customers priority over consumers on their network. One thing a business buyer should ask its provider is whether there are any service guarantees and what the bandwidth allocation is per user (this defines the contention level).
The golden rule when buying broadband for business use- consider how much it will cost you if the broadband is not working or is flaky, and ensure you have a suitable back up in place, or service agreements that will ensure faults are fixed within an acceptable period.