From the 1st October, Virgin broadband customers will be able to get broadband speeds of up to 200Mbps on the company’s top package, which the company is branding as “Vivid”. The company are claiming that it will be available for 90% of its existing customers by the end of this year, the higher speeds has been made by the use of Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS 3) technology, this allows the more data to be carried over the cable.
The Federation of Small Businesses has warned the government that the UK’s broadband infrastructure is not fit for purpose and is calling for them to commit to delivering a minimum of 10Mbps for all business premises by 2019.
On Thursday Verizon Communications, a leading US broadband provider, sent a cease and desist to Netflix regarding a new loading screen the online streaming services has launched. In the new loading screen Netflix blames Verizon’s over crowded network for the slow loading of video as they adjust the “video for smoother playback”.
It does often seem like we are playing catch-up here in the UK, the fastest ever broadband speeds have been recorded in London with speeds of 1.4 terabits per second were achieved. Speeds such as this are fast enough to send 44 uncompressed HD films a second. And thousands of miles away in South Korea, where they are planning on introducing 5G wireless service which will allow users to download full-length films in a second.
If you live in any of the following cities then you will soon benefit as part of a £5billion increase in infrastructure spending. George Osborne said he would improve the broadband in 10 cities across the UK, including London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast. Further cities, likely to include Milton Keynes and Bristol, are set to be announced in the future. Companies such as BT and Virgin will be able to bid for money to improve wireless or fixed-line coverage in cities, in a bid to create ‘hubs’ that will drive economic growth and offer speeds of 80 – 100 Mbps.If you live in the countryside or you run a rural business you could benefit from proposals too, with plans for rural broadband is already set to receive £530m in this parliament, although not all of that funding has yet been allocated. Mr Osborne also announced in his Autumn Statement the release of more government data, on road works, railways and other information, which he hopes will encourage software developers to write applications for Smartphones and computers. Rural broadband campaigners claim that such small businesses would be more likely to be based outside cities if investment was directed toward improving networks in the countryside.
Good news for subscribers in rural Britain was the ruling that Ofcom had imposed a cap on BT’s wholesale prices to internet service providers (ISPs). The regulator said that BT must reduce its prices to 12pc below inflation by mid-August in areas where it is the only wholesale provider of broadband, or 11.7pc of the country. It added that it expects ISPs in those areas to drop retail prices for customers by the end of the year.
If you thought that a poor broadband connection was something that only internet users in the country suffered, you would be wide of the mark. The average broadband speed in Britain is 3.8 megabits per second, well behind South Korea, which leads the world with an average of 12mbps. Britain falls behind Romania and Latvia and, no British city features in the list of the 100 fastest cities in the world for internet access.This isn’t about providing access to time-wasting social media sites or idle browsing, it’s about ensuring that Britons can run their businesses, shop and access the latest news and local information. By 2015 it could also be the way we watch television and buy music, films and books. This is important infrastructure and the Government needs to ensure that it is in place.
Choice is all very well, but when there’s too much of it problems such as headaches are often the result as we are left in a state of paralysis over which way to jump in case we miss the best deal. This is especially the case with broadband providers these days, with everyone from Orange Home Broadband, Tiscali Broadband and TalkTalk Broadband to BT Total Broadband and Virgin Media Broadband and even Tesco Broadband stampeding into the market like so many buffalos, all in fierce competition for customers.The important point to remember is why you want broadband at all, and what you’ll use it for. The level of service required by a corporate user will be very different to that wanted by a normal domestic user, for example. The business user will want the fastest speeds available and a high level of technical support. But even with medium users, the needs will vary, with occasional senders of email requiring less than enthusiastic social network users and live chat addicts.Take into account the length of contract whether you’re looking for mobile broadband, business broadband or any of the domestic broadband deals. Monthly rolling contracts are often a better idea than 12 month or 18 month ones if you may have to terminate and don’t want to pay for the lost months.Many broadband providers also have monthly usage caps embedded in their contracts, whereby if you shoot over a certain level you’ll be charged, so this also will depend on your expected level of usage.
Broadband is now fairly ubiquitous, as there’s a limit to what you can do with a dial-up connection, and in business it is indispensable. The type of cutting-edge software that is now deployed across the internet for everything from casino-style gambling to social networking assumes you have broadband to run the applications. Dial-up still works, but is extremely limited in terms of speed and functionality, and is a bit like using a manual typewriter and carbon paper when you have word processing available.Broadband, as well as keeping you connected 24 hours a day, dispenses with the need for a telephone line. Many companies such as Virgin Media Broadband and Sky Broadband offer 3-in-one packages of telephone, broadband and satellite TV provided down the same connection, which can save you money when you consider that telephone calls are often free nationally with such an arrangement. Tiscali Broadband, TalkTalk Broadband, Think Broadband, BT Total Broadband, PlusNet Broadband and many more broadband providers now crowd this very competitive market, and it pays to shop around for broadband deals by using broadband comparison websites to find the best ones on offer. This is good advice whether you’re taking out a broadband contract for the first time or are due for renewal on an existing one.When choosing broadband providers, you may be better off choosing a monthly rolling contract rather than a fixed one of 12 or 18 months, because if you end it early you will often have to pay for the whole term.
There are many internet service providers available that sell an even larger number of packages. To make things even more confusing for shoppers, many providers will provide free gifts and incentives to choose their services. Do not choose a broadband provider just for the free gifts or extra minutes. It is important that you choose a broadband provider that matches your internet usage style. Availability TestThe first thing that should be done, even prior to a broadband comparison, is to check availability to see which broadband providers you can sign up with. There is no need to waste time comparing broadband packages for a provider that you cannot receive services from. There are many places online where you can perform a free local availability test.Internet HabitsAfter you have narrowed down the broadband providers in your area, next you want to determine your internet habits. How often to you access the internet? What do you do when you are online? Do you expect to download a lot or play games online? All of these are important because you may or may not require a broadband package with top speeds. If you do not use the internet very often, a low monthly access cap is a less expensive option.Computer SpecificationsFind out your computer specifications and the type of router or modem you are using, as these could have some effect on broadband performance. Some broadband providers have packages that work best with certain types of computers and modems. Each package will provide a list of required system specifications, and you can then determine which package will work best with your computer equipment.
BT are offering to match £830 million of government funding in order to help deliver super-fast broadband to the nation by 2017. The offer has not yet been formally made, but will be discussed next week. If BT are given the go ahead, TV licence funds will be tapped into. Initially it was thought that this would not be enough, but The Times has stated that £150 million a year will go towards broadband projects. This will be brought into play alongside the £230 million that has already been made available from the Digital Switchover under-spend. Broadband Deliver UK (BDUK) has to be seen to be treating all broadband providers equally and as a result they may remain impartial about giving so much money to BT. Tough competition for funding is expected from smaller rural projects that are able to prove they can deliver broadband services economically. The Times also claim that BT is going to help out rural market towns with the new super-fast service. The upgrade will be trialed next year, to see whether or not it is feasible, but it is safe to say that we will witness faster broadband in the very near future. It is a move to invest in the future of the network, so we can all expect a reliable and consistent service, regardless of the number of users. BT’s plans are big, but then again, so is super-fast broadband.