Broadband News

Broadband speed evidence given to parliament inquiry

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee has heard evidence on broadband speeds, the live feed was online at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/.

The list of parties presenting evidence is fairly short comprising, BT, Vtesse, TalkTalk and Avanti, with a further group of four at 5pm, Commission for Rural Communities, Consumer Focus, Intellect and IT Support Line Ltd. The topics being examined are:

  • whether the target for universal access to broadband at a speed of 2Mb/s by 2012 is ambitious enough
  • is the Government right to propose a levy on copper lines to fund next generation access?
  • will the Government's plans for next generation access work?
  • if companies are providing the speed of access which they promise to consumers
  • the extent to which current regulation strikes the right balance between ensuring fair competition and encouraging investment in next generation networks

In following the committee meeting it was a case of nothing new was stated by any parties involved, but by presenting it to the committee what they have said has gone on the record, and may help to influence areas like the Universal Service Commitment and the Final Third Fund.

On the Universal Service Commitment (USC) there was a general agreement that the 2Mbps target for 2012 was achievable and that it provided a reasonable base line. The BT representative did highlight the need for the USC when defined to have a range of other parameters defined, for example what expectations for peak time performance are to be set, since this carries cost and technology implications.

The 50p levy was not seen as a good idea by Andrew Heany from TalkTalk, but BT said in principle was in favour of some public money being used to service areas where commercial operators will not provide adequate service.

In terms of other comments made, Vtesse (in partnership with Virgin Media for their FTTC trial) mentioned that there is a need for lower pricing in connecting the smaller clusters of communities, as this is currently the biggest barrier for those villages of perhaps 500 homes. The use of satellite for the USC was covered and the Avanti spokesman was understandably keen to push his services capabilities, pointing out that they will be able to support 150,000 UK customers once they announce their service, with speed options of up to 10Mbps.

The key thing really is that no-one was able to name any one application beyond demand for video as a driver for faster broadband roll-out. For governments the key driver at this time will be the savings possible through people being able to fill in forms online, rather than having to travel and occupy a civil servants time. Comments were made that crystal ball gazing is very hard, and back in 2000/2001 it was thought commercial broadband would only reach around 30-40% of the country.

For those people who comment saying things like 'but South Korea has 100Meg everywhere now', the comments from those attending can be summarised as yes they have this capability, but they are doing roughly the same as what we in the UK are doing, and possibly the level the film piracy in South Korea is doing damage to the economy.

Alas the stream appeared to stop working at around 5pm (appears to be a stream issue and not a local broadband issue), which was when TalkTalk was saying that "it is far early to say where the market will be in a few years". One snippet is that they have not finished their LLU roll-out and are looking at 90% coverage at some point in 2010.

In summary we would say the following, expect a 2Meg USC by 2012, but for those in outlying areas, e.g. isolated farm houses or clusters of half a dozen buildings, satellite based access may form the USC service. The business case for government money to build next generation networks outside of commercially viable areas looks a little rocky, perhaps it would be best to start with the hardest areas spending the money where commercial firms agree they will never go, and then meet in the middle somewhere.

Comments

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  • rolfharris
  • over 7 years ago

Very interesting until it broke 3 minutes ago.

  • frompton
  • over 7 years ago

has it worked for anyone yet?

  • swervinc
  • over 7 years ago

Yeap seemed to break at around 5pm, have my notes which I've rolled into an updated news item for those interested.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 7 years ago

The Korean piracy mention was interesting. With my positive cap on i'd think "we now have the capabilities to stream our films and other media at high quality and direct to the customer" whereas they thought "oh no, they won't go to the cinema or buy films because they can get our films and other media direct in their home without paying".

Trying to predict future internet use is an impossible job. Yes HD video, 3D video and other use of pictures will feature heavily. As will gaming, socialising and the 'cloud' but these go beyond the fixed line to the home.

  • frompton
  • over 7 years ago

Just hope the CRC put them straight at the second half of the meeting, otherwise parliament have been badly misled today. They even said 1meg was enough for some people. I heard it.

  • cyberdoyle
  • over 7 years ago

I'd quite like a streaming HD service. Would certainly be an improvement of postal rental services or trudging to the video store.

I see the good old Government savings myth got an airing also. Why would you need next gen speed to fill in a form and if there are savings to be made. Then why have they not already been implemented. It assumes far too much competence on the part of Government depts.

  • mishminx
  • over 7 years ago

1M is enough for SOME people.

  • Somerset
  • over 7 years ago

There comes a point when the *universal* bit of USC becomes misleading or meaningless.

Worryingly the talk seems to be about 2Mb/s except where it's too hard, except where it's too costly, except where it's the wrong time of day, except if we decide this customer doesn't really need it.

We must not allow the same mistake as happened with the term *unlimited*

  • prlzx
  • over 7 years ago

Secondly, admitting I have not watched this yet, is there any talk of a minimum upload committment?

The problem with ignoring upload is that it limits us to a one-way internet - like a broadcast model.

If we really want "Next Generation" broadband it must allow people to contribute as producers, not just consumers.

  • prlzx
  • over 7 years ago

On the USC, well that is the difference between a USC and USO, obligation means you have to, USC best effort will do.

Upload was covered by the catch-all that a range of parameters need to be defined.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 7 years ago

Replay is there. 2hrs 2min.

  • Somerset
  • over 7 years ago

U = universal has never been 100% in Digital Britain reports, usually compared to the "universality" of terrestrial analogue TV which is 98.5%

  • herdwick
  • over 7 years ago

Totally agree with frompton's opinion. High speed broadband doesn't necessary lead to piracy. Why don't they mention about another high speed internet country Japan? Their people do respect to IP. They do upload and download video/music. However, they also buy CD/DVD for collection and supporting artists. Many services like HD video streaming can open a brand new market and making good profit.

  • rian
  • over 7 years ago

The second session (ffter the glitch)by all accounts is more interesting, but alas no time to do a synopsis this morning

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 7 years ago

the second session was ok, but emphasis tended to be put on the people who 'don't want broadband' rather than on the ones who do. Also the person on the panel who asked the question asked about a 2 megabyte USC and was answered by two witnesses before the third finally said megabit. I just get the feeling its the blind leading the blind.

  • cyberdoyle
  • over 7 years ago

Part of it was just an advert for the satellite system.

  • Somerset
  • over 7 years ago

"Their people do respect to IP" - you answered your own question, people don't compare Japan because they behave differently so comparison is of limited value.

  • herdwick
  • over 7 years ago

cyberdoyle - True, 256KBps is enough for most people. Bring on cheap basic broadband...

  • Dawn_Falcon
  • over 7 years ago

As part of the "Universal Service Commitment" I would also like to see a guarantee of IP through-put as well. It is all very well with the suppliers saying 2Mb but this is only sync rate I believe and not what the end customer will receive as an IP service.

  • infinidim
  • over 7 years ago

One big use for fast upload and download speeds is back ups. I can see more use of that as digital cameras mean people run out of space.
Facebook and the like all encourage photo and now video sharing. Flickr and the like are tehre primarily for photo sharing. THat takes a fair bit of bandwidth to have a reasonable experience.

  • Fellwalker
  • over 7 years ago

I think films are NOT the way forward, nor TV. Films on a DVD have much more content, and are more easily paused, rewound, and fast forwarded. I can sort of see a market for rentals where you take advantage of quiet times to download to play later, but that should be a lower priority than the likes of email and ordinary web browsing. TV particularly is a one to many model, whereas IPTV needs individual delivery. The recent experience of internet live football suggests the UK infrastructure is no where near close to providing capacity. Now if it was Korea...

  • Fellwalker
  • over 7 years ago

@Fellwalker

You have never truely experienced P2P if you still think DVD's are better.

  • otester
  • over 7 years ago

I just got sky player on my xbox360....... And its useless... Because my broadband slowed down! And why, because BT dont give a stuff about you if you live in the villages!!! Why cant the money grabbers at BT and others just see the truth, Spend some of the fat cheque that the director gets, on improving speed and bandwidth to the masses, then when its sorted and we're all getting atleast 8meg thruput, they can worry bout trying to police the internet.

  • Mince1978
  • over 7 years ago

Great, get back to me when you've solved ADSL's dropoff problem Mince. And of course using a video streaming service is going to use bandwidth, lol.

  • Dawn_Falcon
  • over 7 years ago

[Quote]For those people who comment saying things like 'but South Korea has 100Meg everywhere now', the comments from those attending can be summarised as yes they have this capability, but they are doing roughly the same as what we in the UK are doing, and possibly the level the film piracy in South Korea is doing damage to the economy.[Quote]

So, are you saying we'll offset the piracy issue by forcing the dumb hicks to pay?

Of course not. But 'piracy' has no bearing on the two-tier broadband fiasco.

Please STOP using this as a Golden Get Out clause!

  • jim07
  • over 7 years ago

I do not belive that S. Korea HAS 100mbs BROADBAND EVERYWHERE,THERE WILL BE AREAS WITH OUT, or slower.

  • asrobs
  • over 7 years ago

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