Friday, 11 September 2009

UK Slow To Take Up Super-fast Broadband analyses broadband figures according to the Broadband World Forum. The results show that the UK is lagging behind the rest of Europe for super-fast, fibre to the home broadband.

According to figures announced at the Broadband World Forum in Paris this week, fibre to the home (FTTH) broadband has grown by 18% in Europe over the last 12 months, but the UK has failed to make the list of top 10 adopters of this new technology.

FTTH broadband is the "Rolls Royce" of broadband delivery solutions and allows super-fast upload and download speeds ideal for emerging web 2.0 services like person to person video calling. FTTH is the generation beyond, fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) solutions used by suppliers such as Virgin Media in the UK (which themselves offer speeds far faster than standard DSL broadband).

The Fibre-To-The-Home Council, which compiled the rankings, showed that Sweden came top with 10.9% of broadband homes enjoying FTTH, followed by Norway (10.2%) and Slovenia (8.9%) in third place. The UK, France and Germany all failed to feature in the top fourteen European FTTH-enabled nations. Interestingly Lithuania and Slovakia do make the ranking, showing how emerging European nations are far better prepared for the online future than the old industrialised economies such as the UK and France.

Fibre to the home (FTTH), as the name suggests, involves the laying of fibre optic cable all the way into the home. This is much more costly than the FTTC fibre optic broadband infrastructure, which relies on a standard cable connection for the last yards from the street cabinet to the home. The Fibre-To-The-Home Council forecasts that 13m people across 35 European countries would have fibre broadband by 2012, with average broadband speeds of around 100Mb/sec. This compares to the UK, where the average residential broadband speed is currently 4.5 Mb/sec.

Charlie Ponsonby CEO of broadband comparison service comments:

"The UK’s very limited FTTH network is unlikely to change any time soon. No major broadband provider has committed to a substantial FTTH rollout. BT’s much publicized £1.5bn investment in fibre optic broadband is FTTC, like Virgin Media’s network."

Charlie Ponsonby continues:

"FTTC broadband is still a big improvement on standard DSL broadband services. Virgin Media is currently offering an up to 50 Mb/sec broadband package via FTTC – and is piloting a scheme to deliver speeds of up to 200 Mb/sec. However, both networks will still leave about 30-40% of UK homes relying on slower DSL broadband connections."

In Japan over 40% of residential broadband connections are via fibre to the home (FTTH) so they enjoy broadband speeds roughly 20 times faster than t he average UK household. One Japanese cable company KDDI, recently launched a FTTH broadband and telephony package with upload and download speeds each of up to one gigabit per second, (1000 Mb/sec). What's more the KDDI service (with a free phone line) costs only around £35 per month.

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