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 6 -of- 8
"most of the ISPs preferred to define NGA as closely to their own product set as possible"

what is uk superfast next generation access nga broadband The ISPs's last port of call was to contact several UK broadband ISPs in the hope that they, with their wealth of experience in the field, could shed some light on this most tedious of all subjects.

Andrew Saunders, Head of Zen Internet's Product Management and Marketing, said:

"NGA has to mean fibre optic is involved in the delivery of the service from the local exchange to the customer premises.  This can be either fibre to the street cabinet (FTTC) and then copper for the last few hundred metres as Zen’s Fibre Broadband services launched last week. Or fibre all the way to the premises as in FTTP services, which Zen is currently trialling and will be bringing to marketing in the first half of 2011. 

NGA is not just about the delivery technology, it’s also about the type of services delivered and these need to be significantly faster for download and more importantly upload that the current ADSL technology. Providing connectivity that is suitable to simultaneously support mixed real time and non-real time media and applications."

TalkTalk's Executive Director Strategy and Regulation, Andrew Heaney, said:

"We don’t have a strong view on what the speed definition should be – in some senses the question of a definition is not that relevant since the market will decide what speed / price is right for them given the services they want to use.  Thus setting a definition in advance is both arbitrary and can lead to bad policy decisions to meet the target but not what customers want."

Elfed Thomas, CEO, of i3 Group said:

"Defining superfast broadband as anything less than 100Mbps is short sited. Although Ofcom’s suggestion of speeds in excess of 24Mbps will certainly ensure that the end user has a far better experience than the average broadband service today; with the explosion of new applications such as HDTV, 3DTV, video on demand and IPTV, it will soon become outdated. You only have to look overseas to see that a definition of less than 100Mbps will leave the UK far behind the rest of the world, which completely contradicts the Government’s desire for the UK to be world digital leaders."

BT Statement

"Next Generation Access (NGA) is the umbrella name for the FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) and FTTP (Fibre to the Premise) products, being rolled out by Openreach across the UK. These products provide the basis for BT's 'super-fast broadband’ offerings for consumers and businesses. FTTC provides download speeds of up to 40Mbps and upload speeds of up to 10Mbps, with a 15Mbps upstream option being launched by Openreach in the near future. FTTP provides download speeds of up to 100Mbps and upload speeds of up to 30Mbps. FTTC is a launched service, FTTP is currently being trialled."

Virgin Media Statement

"'NGA' services should be defined by technology as much the speeds they can deliver. Services that can truly deliver speeds of 20Mb+ can be classed as 'superfast' in an NGA context if the vast majority of customers can actually receive these speeds. Technologies that degrade due to limitations in access technology, such as DSL-based services, fall short of being able to deliver consistent speeds to all customers and hence should not be classified as 'NGA'."

It's perhaps not too surprising to find that most of the ISPs preferred to define NGA as closely to their own product set as possible. By contrast TalkTalk has chosen to either dodge the question or miss the point, we're not sure which. At the time of writting TalkTalk had not announced any new fibre optic based broadband services, although they are expected to join the club very soon.

However Zen, BT, Virgin Media and the i3 Group's definitions are all still fairly feasible and successfully identify a distinct difference between new and existing broadband technologies, which is something that more than a few UK government MP's and departments have yet to achieve.

One thing is now abundantly clear, almost all the definitions from politically organised and funded bodies appear to be getting either weaker, slower or both. This risks becoming a classic example of setting the bar so low that nothing of any note is able to creep underneath.

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