Tag: broadband

Brits want government broadband minimums

tin-can-phoneThe latest ISPreview survey of over 1,700 internet users in the United Kingdom has revealed that over three quarters of people want the Government to aim for a 30Mbps (Megabits per second) broadband Universal Service Obligation rather than the planned 10Mbps USO.

While the survey found 83 percent  of respondents support the Government’s plan to introduce a minimum national broadband speed of 10Mbps (Megabits per second) via a legally-binding Universal Service Obligation (USO), most of them  (78p percent) feel as if the minimum should have been set at the “superfast” rate of 30Mbps.

It’s widely expected that the bulk of the USO will be delivered via fixed line broadband networks (e.g. KCOM and BT), although the Government has previously hinted that Fixed Wireless and Satellite technologies could also play a role. The survey found that 60 percent of respondents supported the potential inclusion of fixed wireless networks, but approval drops to just 28 percent  for Satellite.

Mark Jackson, ISPreview.co.uk’s Founder, said: “Today around 93 per cent+ of premises in the UK are estimated to be covered by a so-called ‘superfast broadband’ network offering 24Mbps or greater of download speed and this should reach around 98 percent by around 2020. The plan to implement a new USO will thus primarily cater for those in the final two percent and should be welcomed, but the majority clearly wanted the Government to set its performance ambition far higher.”

“The delivery of a 10Mbps USO will certainly be hundreds of millions of pounds cheaper to roll-out than 30Mbps, although it’s feared that the final policy may also overlook other important aspects of service such as the need for a fast upload speed (very important for social network apps and the cloud etc.) and fast connection latency.”

“The government should also be careful about adopting quick-fix USO solutions like Satellite, which appear to lack wide public support and suffer from problems with slow peak-time performance, small or expensive data allowances and painfully slow latency.”

“On the other hand there are some extremely remote areas where Satellite may truly be the only viable option (this technology is predicted to focus on around 0.3 percent of UK premises), although this will be no good for today’s world of heavy video streaming where the average 10Mbps+ residential connection gobbles 153GB per month (Ofcom data) and rising”,  concluded Jackson.

Sky enters the UK mobile market

satellite_dishes_fever__13Sky has entered the UK mobile market with a SIM-only deal that allows data allowances to roll over each month, and offers free calls to the 11 million British households that buy its telly services.

The broadcaster said that it was “time to shake up” the mobile market, particularly in data, where many customers paid for more than they used because they were worried about exceeding their allowance, the pay TV group said .

Sky is the last of Britain’s big four broadband providers to offer mobile to its customers, giving it the full “quad play” offer, which also includes TV and fixed-line telecoms.

Stephen van Rooyen, Sky’s UK and Ireland chief executive, said the company had asked more than 30,000 potential customers what they wanted from a mobile service, and more flexibility on data was top of the list.

“We’ve designed it based on what people told us they want – it’s easy, flexible and transparent and it puts the customer in control,” he said

Sky is also piggybacking on the O2 network, although it will issue its own SIM cards and handle all parts of the customer relationship.

Mobile customers will not receive a combined bill for all Sky services, however, as the company said customers preferred to keep an individual relationship with their mobile provider.

Sky is offering three packages of 1GB, 3GB and 5GB of data a month priced at 10 pounds, 15 pounds and 20 pounds, respectively, with free calls and texts for its TV customers.


Government slammed over out of date broadband

tin-can-phoneThe Engineering Employers Federation (EEF) has warned that the UK could miss out on the fourth industrial revolution if the government continues to ignore business broadband.

The EFF said that UK businesses were paying inflated prices for inadequate broadband.

In a report which asked 128 companies between December 1 and December 31 about their broadband connection, more than half of all mid-sized firms were paying over £5,000 a year for their internet access. And to make matters worse nearly half of companies based in business parks were unable to access speeds above 10Mbps.

Two-thirds of manufacturers surveyed said that they planned to invest in IoT related infrastructure and services.

Lee Hopley, EEF chief economist said that manufacturers needed best in class provision if Britain was to take advantage of the next industrial revolution and government cannot afford to think it is job done.

“While the quality of networks isn’t currently an issue, companies are paying inflated sums to have proper access and are fearful they will not have competitive access five years’ down the line.”

The EEF said that the government had placed too strong an emphasis on improving home broadband services and called for a review of the business broadband marketplace, with the aim of driving prices down by the end of the current parliament.

Vodafone is back in the money

vodafoneBritain’s Vodafone posted a rise in its quarterly sales for the first time in nearly three years.

This was thanks to improving trends in its key European markets and demand for its 4G mobile services.

The world’s second largest mobile operator said the rise in fourth quarter revenue of 0.1 percent, which followed 10 quarters of declines, meant that its overall earnings could also stabilise in 2016.

Vodafone has been hit hard by the constraints on consumer spending in its big European markets and by regulator-imposed price cuts, forecast a range for 2015-16 earnings of £11.5 billion pounds to “£12 billion.

Compared to the £11.9 billion pounds it reported for the 2014-15 period the company could be heralding a return to growth following seven straight years of earnings decline.

Analysts say Vodafone has a tendency to set a cautious outlook so the figures might even be better than that.

Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said the company had seen increasing signs of stabilisation in many of its European markets, supported by improvements in its commercial execution and very strong demand for data.

Vodafone has 446,000 mobile customers in countries ranging from Albania to Spain, Qatar, India, South Africa and New Zealand. However, in the EU, customers cut back on using their phones at a time when Vodafone needed to invest in new networks.

With growth also slowing in its emerging markets, Vodafone embarked on a programme to either build or buy superfast fixed-line broadband networks to compete with rivals offering mobile contracts alongside television, broadband or fixed-line deals.


5G boffins break 1Tbps speed limit

speed University of Surrey researchers working on  5G mobile broadband claim to have broken the transfer speed limit of 1Tbps (Terabits per second).

Normally when people talk about 5G they are happen to hint at speeds of 10Gbps to 50Gbps (Gigabits per second). Samsung managed 7.5Gbps in a car moving at 60MPH over a distance of 4.35km and using the 28GHz radio spectrum band.

The Surrey test said that its performance was managed over 100 metres via new transmitters and receivers.

The plan is to take the technology outside of the lab for testing between 2016 and 2017, which would be followed by a public demo in early 2018.

Professor Rahim Tafazolli, who leads the project said that the technique is independent of centre frequency whether mm wave or below 6GHz.

“It is a new detector that works really well in environments where there is a lot of interference I.e dense cells (for example cells of ~100m) and cells with lots of interfering antennas like massive MIMO. The indicated rate was measured in 100MHz of bandwidth.”


Sky to auto-block web pornography

David CameronBroadband supplied by Sky will automatically stop customers from seeing pornography unless people actively opt out.
In a letter to its customers, it said that the Broadband Shield feature will be automatically enabled, unless people choose to change the settings.
Sky is the first broadband company in the UK to implement the policy.
UK prime minister David Cameron said two years ago he wanted mandatory online filtering of web sites to protect children.
Director of Sky Lyssa McGowan said the internet isn’t universally suitable for children.
In a blog on the Sky site, she wrote that it’s acting in the interests of security and online safety.
When dodgy sites are encountered by customers, a message will flash up on the screen and people will only be able to unblock specific pages by logging in and changing their settings.


Stop squeezing broadband BT!


pelosi-lap-dogBritish Telecom has been told off by the British regulator Ofcom which seemed to back complaints from smaller broadband provider TalkTalk that BT was abusing its dominant position in the way it priced the wholesale offering.

Ofcom said it would set up safeguards to make sure BT maintains a sufficient margin between its wholesale and retail superfast broadband charges which would allow rival providers to profitably match its prices.

BT has built a fibre network that has driven the uptake of broadband services, both by consumers and by rivals who rent the lines on a wholesale basis.

TalkTalk had complained there was not enough of a gap between wholesale price and the rate at which BT sold the product to retail customers, squeezing margins for competitors.

Under the new proposal BT would be allowed to set its wholesale fibre prices, but they must do it in such a way that others can compete profitably for superfast broadband customers.

“Ofcom’s indicative assessment is that BT is maintaining a sufficient margin under the new draft rules,” Ofcom said. “Therefore, the condition is a safeguard which limits BT’s ability to reduce retail margins in future, and ensures that any increases in BT’s costs must be reflected in its prices.”


Broadband essential to SMEs

oldphoneA survey has revealed that Britain’s small to medium enterprises (SMEs) still have worries about growing their businesses in 2015.
The survey, commissioned by TalkTalk Business, asked 1,000 British small businesses how optimistic they are about revenues and growth this year.
Of those surveyed, 27 percent are “very optimistic”, but of those remaining, 20 percent don’t think 2015 will be a bumper year.
Obviously TalkTalk has an agendum with this survey and the results showed close to 90 percent of the SMEs believed broadband connectivity is vital to their businesses.
The top five priorities the survey discovered for SMEs is that they wanted to grow revenues; improve their teams’ morale; expand their businesses; cut costs; and invest in new technology.
TalkTalk has launched a broadband package aimed at SMEs, and figures it has released claim that its business package is cheaper than BT Business Unlimited, Plusnet unlimited and Chess essential max broadband.


Europe shows rise in high speed broadband

euroflagzA report commissioned by the European Commission has found that the number of European households able to access at least 30Mbps download speeds is 62 percent.

The survey covered 2013 and showed that 4G LTE support increased by 32 percent during the year.

Coverage growth was influenced by deployments of Very High Speed DSL (VDSL) – it was the fastest growing fixed broadband tech for the second year in  a row.

But the position is still bad for people living in the country.  Rural households showed 89.8 percent coverage, compared to 97.2 percent for urban households.

UK got the thumbs up in the survey. The vast majority of people in the UK have 100 percent coverage, the EC said.

LTE takeup was patchy. Sweden had the highest penetration, while three countries – Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta – had no coverage whatsoever at the end of 2013.

Ofcom says broadband coverage patchy

parliamentDespite the government maintaining that the UK is on track to deliver broadband just about everywhere in the country, regulator Ofcom said economics mean that’s just not going to happen.

Ofcom said in a report that communication services are used by an average UK adult for over half of their waking hours.

That means, coverage, capacity, and reliability of the digital infrastructure are of fundamental importance to both people and to businesses.

But, said Ofcom: “The economics of networks means there are parts of the UK that will not be fully served by the market.  There are also some services which may not be provided to all by the market.”

Either Ofcom or the government could intervene to make life better for people/

Ofcom said that fixed broadband technology is “almost universally available” – the average download speed is 23Mbit/s. But broadband speeds vary quite a lot, the organisatiion said.

The government aims to provide universal availability of at least 2Mbit/s – only three percent of UK sites fall below this.  But this causes difficulties for those affected.

Fifteen percent of UK households can’t get 10Mbit/s speed/

Ofcom said that the government target to deliver superfast broadband to 95 percent of premises by 2017 “is an aggressive target”.  About 18 percent of households still don’t access the internet, whether fixed or mobile.

Free UK wi-fi has big holes in it

Ed VaizeyThe UK minister of state for digital industries came under tough questioning about broadband in the House of Commons yesterday.

Ed Vaizey claimed that all UK homes have access to broadband and 97 percent have access to broadband at speeds of two megabits.  He claimed superfast broadband availability has doubled, and the average speed of broadband has trebled.

He also claimed that the UK has the lowest prices for broadband of the big five countries in the European Union, and in the United States.

But that position was questioned by Tory MP Anne McIntosh.  She claimed that 28 percent of farms and rurals businesses in Thirsk, Malton and Filey won’t have any fast speed broadband by 2016. She asked Vaizey what steps his department was taking to allow acccess. He claimed the government was well ahead with its plans in North Yorkshire.

Helen Goodman, Labour’s shadow minister of Culture, Media and Sport said that while many people were pleased with the recent announcement of 1,000 free wi-fi spots across the UK, the department’s own map shows that Glasgow, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Bristol – with a combined population of four million – seemed to have no provision at all.

Vaizey said that the governmetn worked with the cities “so they came up with their own proposals… It is up to the cities how they choose to use the money”.

LTE to boost broadband access for homes

wirelessmastThe widespread  adoption of LTE for fast internet access on smartphones and tablets will have a knock on effect on the broadband wireless market.

That’s according to ABI Research, which foresees the widespread adoption of LTE making it easier for people without DSL, cable or fibre optic broadband to have fast internet connections in their home.

And a number of chipset and other vendors will accelerate that push, according to Jake Saunders, 4G director at the market research company.

Those include vendors including Huawei, ZTE, and Netgear, which are all readying routers based on LTE that will let people have 4G connections at home. Chipsets from Intel, Sequans, Qualcomm and GTE are all competing in this space.

Shipment numbers for residential and commercal LTE gateways is set to grow to 44 million units by 2019.  Many people living in rural areas who have been excluded from fast net access are likely to have an answer to their problems sooner rather than later.

Researchers exploit UHF spectrum

Knightly, Anand and GuerraBoffins at Rice University said they have discovered how to effectively use the unused UHF TV spectrum, creating streams of data over wireless hotspots that could operate for miles.

Edward Knightly, professor at the Rice department of electrical and computer engineering, said: “The holy grail of wireless communications is to go both fast and far.  Usually you can have or the other but not both.  Wireless local area networks today can serve data very fast, but one brick wall and they’re done. UHF can travel far, but it hasn’t had the high capacity of wi-fi.”

The researchers will show a multiuser and multiantenna transmission scheme for UHF at a conference in Hawaii today.

The UHF spectrum became available after the move to digital TV. UHF signals travel for miles and would be useful to provide broadband capabilities for remote communities.

Lead researcher Narendra Anand said: “When comparing UHF and wi-fi, there’s usually a tradeoff of capacity for range or vice versa. Imagine that the wi-fi access point in your home or office sends data down a 100-lane highway, but’s only one mile long.  For UHF, the highway is 100 miles long but only three or four lanes wide, and you cannot add any lanes.”

He said that efficiently using the lanes of UHF involves a multiantenna transmission technique that allows access by many people using the same channel simultaneously.

Pictured here from left to right are researchers Edward Knightly, Narendra Anand and Ryan Guerra.

US telcos claim that 10Gps is “too fast” for broadband

the-tortoise-and-the-hareShowing that they are at the cutting edge of technology profits, the US telcos have told regulators that 10Gps is too fast for broadband.

They have asked the Federal Communications Commission not to change its definition of broadband from 4Mbps to 10Mbps.  We guess anything faster than 4Mbps requires a man on a horse with a red flag ridding in front of it.

According to AT&T, internet users get by just fine at the lower speeds and have no need for broadband that fast.

“Consumer behaviour strongly reinforces the conclusion that a 10Mbps service exceeds what many Americans need today to enable basic, high-quality transmissions,” AT&T wrote.

Verizon and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), agreed.

“The Commission should not change the baseline broadband speed threshold from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream because a 4/1 Mbps connection is still sufficient to perform the primary functions identified in section 706 [of the Telecommunications Act]—high-quality voice, video, and data,” the NCTA wrote.

More than 47 percent of Comcast subscribers get at least 50Mbps, the company says.

The FCC has periodically raised the minimum standard for Internet service to be considered “broadband.” This affects how the commission measures industry progress in deploying sufficient Internet service to Americans, particularly in rural areas.

There are signs that the Telcos might have a job convincing FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler who thinks that  10Mbps is too low and that a 25Mbps connection is fast becoming ‘table stakes’ in 21st century communications,” he said.

If the definition is kept at 4Mbps, statistics on broadband deployment and competition make the telcos look brilliant and they don’t actually have to upgrade their aging infrastructure.

Alcatel-Lucent gives copper a new chance

alcatelAlcatel-Lucent appears to have given new life to a traditional copper telephone line.

The outfit’s Bell Labs research division claimed to set a new world record by delivering “ultra-broadband” speeds of 10,000Mbps over the aging infrastructure using a prototype technology called XG-FAST.

The prototype XG-FAST tech also demonstrated how existing copper access networks could be used to deliver symmetrical speeds of 1Gbps  or 1000Mbps.

It is being described as being an “extension” of G. technology that can provide Internet connection speeds which are “indistinguishable” from fibre optic Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) services.

BT uses Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology in the United Kingdom to deliver speeds of up to 80Mbps.  That technology works by replacing the existing copper cable between street cabinets and your local telephone exchange with a fibre optic line. The final copper line run from cabinets and into homes is then managed by VDSL2 technology.

G.fast takes even better advantage of the latest advancements in  Vectoring 2.0 to reduce interference. This allows it to operate at speeds of up to 1Gbps, by only by using higher frequencies (106MHz+) and over even shorter runs of copper cable.

If anyone were to design the a system based around it they would combine G.fast with Fibre-to-the-Distribution-Point (FTTdp) or FTTrN technology, which takes the fibre optic cable even closer to homes.