Key future UK broadband debate begins

Stephen Timms, the governments competitiveness minister, will today open a key debate on future UK broadband services by inviting industry officials and ISP's to a special summit.

The meeting of industry big-wig's is expected to cover several areas, such as who should foot the bill and which technologies are best. It will also need to touch on the areas of market availability and impact, with much of the burden being placed upon BT's shoulders.

However BT is unlikely to foot the bill for everything by itself, especially if it has to share access with competitors, which would offer little opportunity to recoup an investment that some believe could reach up to £15bn.

Never the less, with the possible exception of VirginMedia's cable infrastructure, most are agreed that something does need to be done. Existing ADSL2+ technology can reach download speeds of up to 24Mbps, yet many live too far from their exchange to see the best performance; not to mention ISP side restrictions.

In addition the performance stated above is only a downstream (download) figure and it’s easy to forget just how important a fast upload can be too. Neither ADSL nor ADSL2+ is capable of pushing upstream performance very far, causing it to be a serious restriction for Internet TV (IPTV) operators and services, among others, where shared content could become essential.

We suspect that, in the long run, the industry is more likely to adopt ‘Fibre To The Curb (Cabinet)’ (FTTC) technology, which would run a faster fibre link to an areas local cabinet and then use some form of xDSL (e.g. VDSL2) technology to delivery faster speeds over existing copper wires. The distance would be short enough that high speeds could be achieved without needing to dig up an entire road.

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