Ofcom Flexes Muscle over Broadband

Not only does Ofcom believe that internet users are being short-changed when it comes to their broadband speed but it is also concerned about the sector's ability to match speeds being delivered in other parts of the world.

The regulator is concerned that UK internet services are inferior to those enjoyed in countries such as Japan, Korea and Germany, where speeds of up to 100Mbps are available. (does anyone really want it THAT fast – think of viruses???)

Our Minister for Competitiveness, Stephen Timms, took time out from election speculation to warn broadband companies that the government could intervene to hasten the roll-out of high-speed services. One option is known as "fibre to the kerb" which could offer speeds of up to 50Mbps. Accountants and taxpayers might be perturbed to hear that a nationwide fibre network might cost £15bn!

Ofcom also plans to examine regulation and competition options for the broadband network, to ensure operators perform in a similar fashion to that which makes BT's network accessible to competitors.

A recent survey has suggested that 62% of UK broadband clients archive less than 50% of anticipated connection speed. And 25% of the 180,000 surveyed achieve no more than a quarter of the maximum advertised speed. As a result, Ofcom is being pushed to introduce mandatory information provision from internet service providers (ISP's) about the actual speed customers are likely to receive, similar to interest rate regulations applied to credit card companies.

The speed of up to 100Mbps (currently in London we are heading for the 50MB if I am not mistaken) all fine and good but in all truth speed as regards to downloads and uploads only means that much and are all dependant on the speed of the Internet at the time of use. If there is heavy traffic, then same as on the highways, there is congestion, and at times it slows down to an absolute crawl and even with 100Mbps you will get no faster down- or upload than with 1MB. That's the simple fact whatever some may claim and think

If we think that we have got it bad here with out broadband connections let's spare a thought for our cousins across the big pond. In the USA, this great world leader, broadband can only be had, it seems, near the major towns and cities. Outside such places broadband simply cannot be had and everything is 56kb or even 33kb dial-up. There is satellite service available in most instance but it is very slow but also very expensive - $1000 annually has been mentioned to me.

Michael Smith (Veshengro)