Olivia Garfield claims that 24 Meg is all a family needs
"At the moment we can't see any reason why any individual family can use more than 24 Megs, we tried it in our labs and we recreate every typical house across the UK with HD streaming, with facebook uploads, you tube downloads whatever it is, we can't create a situation where more than 24 Mega bits is used. It doesn't mean we should build the infrastructure for what we see today, we absolutely shouldn't, we should build it for the future."Transcript from Speech at NextGen 12
The idea that 24 Mbps is more than any family can use and that even in lab tests they were unable to create a situation using more than 24 Mbps seems almost laughable. Immediately we all think of parents watching a video stream, while their son is playing a computer game and the daughter is talking to friends on twitter or facebook, while their teenage sons mobile phones photo stream is transferring onto their laptop they left switched on in their room.
So lets do some sums, if each parent is watching a HD video stream, that accounts for 5 Mbps each if good HD. The computer game is almost insignificant at 0.1 to 0.2 Mbps (Quality of Service is important, so QoS on the broadband router will help keep latency down), twitter and facebook use very little and are generally bursty so lets allow 2 Mbps. The photo stream will be perhaps 3 MB every minute or two, so averages out at 0.5 Mbps. A total of 12.7 Mbps. So not as daft as a suggestion it first seems, of course things change if all five in the household are at home and watching HD at the same time, this pushes you right to the very edge of 24 Mbps and perhaps fractionally past it. The question is whether a typical household has 2 parents and 3 children all watching their own HD streams at the same time? Is that a typical household at all in the UK? We believe that only 30% of households have children at all.
Of course our needs in the future will change, HD streams will probably get larger as the quality of picture and price to watch increases (some stores offer 10 Mbps streams). Patches and updates to games will increase in frequency, particularly as digital purchase increases, as things stand DLC map pack updates can weigh in a 2GB already. That is why Olivia Garfield said we should build for tomorrow, and here in lies the crux of the criticism of BT and Openreach, as they see the stepped and accountant type approach of Openreach where fibre is pushed in stages towards homes as too slow and lacking vision.
The positive side is that if Openreach is deploying too slowly to areas where others can make not for profit or proper commercial solutions deliver there is nothing stopping them deploying. The weekly news of more fibre deployments suggest that rather than stymying innovation, the low targets of the BDUK and Government vision might just be acting as a stimulus for others to get on and do their own thing, the end result being that in ten years time there should be a infrastructure competition deep into the rural heartlands of the UK.