The Definition of UK Superfast Next Generation Broadband - Introduction Page 1 - ISPreview
The Definition of UK Superfast Next Generation Broadband
By: Mark Jackson - October 25th, 2010 : Page 5 -of- 8
"With NGA, we will see a step change in the quality of service that consumers receive that is about more than just download speeds"

what is uk superfast next generation access nga broadband The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG)

The BSG is the UK government's leading advisory group on broadband and, when asked for a definition, came up with a fairly constructive reply.

The BSG's Policy Manager, Peter Shearman, said:

"It will not be a surprise to you to learn that there is no agreed fixed definition, in terms of speeds, as to what next generation broadband is.

It is generally agreed that next generation broadband is anything that is beyond the capabilities of the current copper network. While this is most commonly thought to be about download speeds, there are actually a whole host of attributes that contribute to the consumer broadband experience, such as upload speeds, latency, jitter, packet loss and so on.

With next generation broadband consumers could experience a better quality and consistency of service, without necessarily using higher download speeds. For example, a service that provided a consistent 10Mbps download and 5Mbps upload, while not providing faster download speeds than current copper-based broadband is capable of, is well beyond the capabilities of the current network and would require NGA.

Sorry that this doesn’t help you to define NGA in terms of speed, but it actually raises an important point. Download speed is just one feature of a broadband service (albeit the main feature that services are marketed on). With NGA, we will see a step change in the quality of service that consumers receive that is about more than just download speeds, but covers upload and quality of service characteristics mentioned above too. For many, it is these improvements that are most exciting in terms of how next generation services will evolve."

It's refreshing to see upload speeds and latency mentioned, especially since not a single one of the other definitions has touched on them. Shearman also manages to make a number of crucial points and effectively dodges the bullet, although his remark ignores how the government report, VOA and Ofcom have already attempted to define by a mix of speed and technology choices, at least to some degree.

Devon County Council (DCC)

Devon Council shot to fame during August 2010 after one of the failed bidders for a lucrative local NGA project, South West Internet (SWI), complained that the process had been mismanaged. In addition SWI noted that the original goal called for a service that could "deliver broadband speeds of 20Mbps into a number of areas". However the winning bid, which came from the council itself, only ended up being able to "supply an NGA compliant 5 Mbps".

Devon County Council Statement

"Devon County Council responded to an open invitation, issued by the South West Regional Development Agency in 2009, to bid for funds for one or two pilot projects to provide rural community broadband. The specification asked for innovative approaches to address gaps in rural broadband coverage, providing connectivity to premises to exceed 2Mbps and which would be compatible with next generation solutions. 

After surveying businesses and taking advice, Devon County Council and Somerset County Council put forward a joint bid in January 2010 that would provide a 5 Mbps NGA compatible service. The funds were awarded in May 2010 to two projects in the South West - Devon/Somerset and the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire."

We are not entirely sure what "NGA Compatible" means, although they appear to be referring to a solution that might initially deliver 5Mbps but could one day be capable of a lot more. However we suspect that many would still question such as an incredibly watered down target.
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