UK crying out for hellish speed

A new survey of British consumers suggests there is an unfulfilled demand for more bandwidth to the home, and it’s not just the Orange subscribers chafing at the birt.

Apparently, it is the rise of user-generated content that increases the demand for video and sound over the internet. Broadband is normally 2Mbits/s downlink via either ADSL or cable in Britain, although a lucky few can see speeds of up to 8Mbits/s via ADSL, providing they live very close to a telephone exchange with the latest equipment.

The study’s authors at analyst Juniper Research, suggest that other European countries are winning the race for broader broadband, with some French subscribers getting downlink speeds of 24Mbits/s on ADSL2+. An important caveat here is that ADSL2+ is subject to all the same constraints ordinary ADSL is, with distance and the quality of the copper wires playing a crucial role. So far, there is only one French ISP offering these stellar speeds.

Also, these super-ADSL deployments are still heavy on the “A”, for asymmetric, in ADSL. 8Mbits/s connections in the UK typically only offer 512Kbits/s upstream, or even as little as 256Kbits/s. This is a serious problem precisely for fans of user-generated content because the content is generated by users, who have to upload it to their preferred sharing service from their home internet connection. The same applies to file-sharing, another application that drives the need for speed.

More importantly, some European countries are pushing ahead with fibre-to-the-home, or FTTH, deployments. The city of Paris has ambitious plans to wire the city with optical carriers, and Deutsche Telekom is openly boasting of offering 50Mbits/s from its planned next-generation network.

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