It’s fast moving this new web based world of ours. Some of it is faster moving than others. This morning I woke up to the news (in the twitter stream – thanks to @ruskin147) that BT was looking to pull forward the rollout plans for “superfast” broadband. To do this the company is taking on an additional 520 engineers and bringing forward £300m of spend.
Competition is great. Clearly Virgin, with its 100Mbps service, is forcing the pace here. BT is saying that by 2014 it will be serving two thirds of the population with download speeds of 70 – 100Mbps.
I realise that I have occasionally been known to be a critic of those responsible for our national broadband infrastructure. On this occasion I’m going to hold back and say to BT: Well done. This is a good decision. Keep it coming.
Fibre To The Cabinet or superfast broadband is the subject that arouses most interest on this blog.
BT says that six million premises (about 25% of the total) already have access to its fibre broadband technology which is currently an “up to 40Mbps” service for most people (upgrade due). Clearly not all 6 million premises have subscribed to the faster broadband or the average speeds reported by Akamai in their State of The Internet Report would be higher.
It’s worth drilling into this a bit more. A quick “back of a spreadsheet” calculation suggests that if the average broadband connection excluding FTTC was 5 Mbps (aka Akamai) and that if FTTC gave us an average of 25Mbps (which is I believe rightish) then if everyone who could get it subscribed to superfast broadband then the average UK internet download speed should increase to 10Mbps. These are very rough numbers but it would put UK plc at or near to the top of Akamai’s European league table as opposed to our current 16th position.
By the end of 2014 BT is saying that 66% of premises will get between 70 and 100Mbps. Lets say the average speeds were 50Mbps and that the remaining 34% get the 2Mbps touted by the government as the minimum target for everyone. If everyone who could get superfast broadband took the service then I see overall average speeds moving up to just under 34Mbps1. This doesn’t take Virgin subscribers into account. Virgin users will get average speeds near to those advertised and might push the overall averages up.
This all depends on a high degree (100% ?!)of uptake of the services but based on this research it will be interesting to see how the UK moves up the Akamai table. Before Her Majesty’s Government gets excited remember we are up against the likes of Finland who will have universal 100Mbps (and above) Fibre To The Premises and with FTTP you usually get the advertised speed.
PS I’m still waiting to hear a definition from HMG as to what constitutes “best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015″. If anyone out there has any inside knowledge on this please let me know. I suspect we will have to wait until 2015 to find out.
1 Interesting to note that back in 2004 our first BT Central pipe – the backhaul connection for 800 broadband customers was a 34Mbps ATM line – the number I am now suggesting could be the average speed of a single broadband connection by 2015.