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Broadband... Speeding up?

Updated on May 16, 2016

This year the government has met its internet target of rolling out broadband to 90% of UK homes. The target, set in 2010, aimed to make the UK have ‘the best superfast broadband in Europe’by 2015. Although missing this target by a few months, the goal has now been achieved. In fact, Thinkbroadband, who use a range of methods to test broadband speeds, believe that by 2017 the UK will have 95% coverage for broadband services. However, this news, although broadly good, for many is not quite good enough. As Rory Cellan-Jones summarises in his BBC article “The government may look at today's figures and think that, for a relatively modest outlay from taxpayers, the UK is on track to deliver pretty good broadband to pretty well everyone. But for the fast fibre campaigners "pretty good" is not good enough and they will continue to demand more.”

Indeed, Cellan-Jones elaborates, fast fibre campaigners have branded the government's ‘superfast’targets a ‘superfarce’, suggesting that they are not nearly ambitious enough. One of the problems is that technology moves so quickly, the rapid and modern cabling that was planned for a roll out in 2010 is just not the top of the range technology for internet services six years later. Standard BT broadband cabling, in line with the government’s targets, enables speeds of 24mbps or faster. However, these speeds pale in the latest FTTH connections.

What does this all mean for businesses? Well, for the vast majority of businesses it means that they should have access to adequate internet speeds (unless they are unfortunate enough to be part of the 10% still languishing in near dial-up-level black spots). Average internet speeds, as you may suspect, averagely facilitate most working conditions. The effectiveness of these speeds can begin to lag, however, when put under increased demand. Common strains on internet resources for businesses include the size of workforce using the system, increased demands as more and more processes become digital and the variable access available to remote workers.

However, there is some comfort. In comparison to the rest of Europe, the UK is leading the way, topping the list of average speeds available to citizens. Also, the cost and time involved in fitting FTTH cabling can lead to its own frustrations. The faster cabling takes longer to install and is more expensive. Hull, which has opted to switch straight onto the faster internet cabling, one day will no doubt enjoy very fast speeds in comparison to the rest of the UK, but for the present, holds many many frustrated consumers still waiting to even reach the broadband speeds that have become standard across the rest of the country.

On balance, perhaps it is better to have the devil you know for now. From a position of average internet speed we can perform most tasks without hindrance. Not only this, but hindsight and evaluation of the government's 2010 targets gives evidence to the case for even more ambitious future targets, which we hope have a similar or better success in meeting their deadlines.


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