Home
 » ISP News » 
Sponsored

A Need for 1Gbps Broadband by 2020 Could Deepen the UK Digital Divide

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 (9:15 am) - Score 1,612
copper cable pile

Telecoms analyst firm Point Topic has today published a short health check of the United Kingdom’s drive towards making superfast broadband (25-30Mbps+) speeds available across the country, which warns that the future demand for 1000Mbps (Gigabit) broadband connections will widen the digital speed divide between urban and rural areas. So is it time for FTTH?

At present the government’s £1.2bn Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and related schemes aim to ensure that fixed line superfast broadband connections can reach 95% of the population by 2017 (99% by 2018 when wireless and mobile services are included).

But this masks a well reported delay to the original target for superfast connections to reach 90% by the end of 2015. Instead the government now states that it expects “around 88% of the country will have access to superfast broadband by December 2015, with an estimated 90% getting [fixed line] superfast coverage by early 2016“.

Similarly Point Topic’s own view concludes that the country is likely to be “pushing into the mid 80’s by the end of 2015” (i.e. around 85%) and that we will “without doubt” achieve coverage of 75% (note: we’re almost there already), which reflects mostly urban and sub-urban areas where the commercial roll-out has already done nearly all of the leg work.

Point Topic notes that this outcome might cause some political problems, although they state that “economically the impact is minimal“. Broadly the analyst concludes that “progress is reasonable and while it could always be better there are few projects of this scale and complexity that run smoothly“.

But what comes next? This is the question that a lot of people, especially advocates of fully fibre optic connectivity (FTTH/P), have been asking for almost as long as broadband has been a familiar word in the national vocabulary. Point Topic warns that Nielsen’s Law of Internet Bandwidth (i.e. a high-end user’s connection speed grows by 50% per year) and current growth suggests that “mass residential demand will hit a requirement” for 1Gbps speeds by 2020 (1000 Megabits per second). By comparison Europe wants 100% of homes to get speeds of 30Mbps+ by the same year.

In fairness Nielsen’s Law is somewhat of an over-simplification for a very dynamic market since you’re unlikely to NEED 1Gbps to use the internet by 2020 but certainly it might arguably look just as attractive as say a 50Mbps or 100Mbps service might do to your eyes today. Also take note that Nielsen’s Law tends to work better when talking about headline speeds, while real-world performance usually rises at a much slower pace due to capacity costs/restrictions or people choosing cheaper slower speed packages.

Never the less Point Topic does make a useful point about the need to be ready.

Point Topic Statement

Mass residential demand will hit a requirement for 1Gbps by 2020, perhaps even earlier, and as it stands we estimate only about 70% to 75% of UK premises could theoretically have those bandwidths available to them assuming a G.Fast deployment by that time.

The result is that we project that the digital divide in the UK will deepen from now until the end of the decade as gigabit bandwidths are made available in certain areas but not in others. The major issue will be with those households and businesses who are not in a Virgin Media or other fibre operators footprint (Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, Digital Region, B4RN etc) and who depend on the BT network for their broadband.

The crux of this argument appears to be that even if all the future G.Fast and perhaps also FTTdp enhancements to BT’s copper network are adopted (see our new article on G.Fast and FTTdp for more) then this will still only benefit the predominantly urban and sub-urban parts of the country, while rural areas (where longer copper lines are more common = slower speeds) would increasingly be left behind as the speed gap widens.

According to Point Topic this could help the case for a full end-to-end fibre optic network but it still isn’t “clear whether it has reached the tipping point where deployment costs are offset by recovery in a suitable time span“. Never the less, future governments may need to consider the other benefits of broadband, to individuals, to communities and to society in general.

But all this does beg the question, if we need to return to do full FTTH/P in the future then why not start now instead of tomorrow and get a head start without risk of duplicating the investment? The alternative viewpoint is that we’ve already started and that BT’s move to FTTC, followed by G.Fast and or FTTdp, effectively represents a gradual progression towards a full fibre network. As usual though, rural areas will probably be the last to benefit.

Delicious
Add to Diigo
Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
38 Responses
  1. TheFacts

    What applications will we be using in 2020?

    • 4k video streams and bigger digital video game downloads (PS4, Xbox One) are two worth considering since video accounts for most internet traffic.

    • Mark

      By the time 2020 arrives we could already have 8K (or what ever it ends up being called for the home market) Video streams. For those that can not look forward and are stuck in the hear and now, lets look at history.

      Bluray (The first widely available 1080p material) only came out in mass back in 2006… Seven years later (IE 2013) and we now have 4K video officially available both in set top streaming devices from Sony and SOME broadcast TV in a few areas of the planet. (Asia)

      It is therefore not unreasonable to expect in a further 7-8 years time for things to move on yet again and 8K video to appear.

      The way some carry on here with the old “what do you need that speed for quotes” It is almost like they that can not see the future and are probably still listening to shortwave radio and watching their Black and White CRT TV.

    • FibreFred

      “The way some carry on here with the old “what do you need that speed for quotes” It is almost like they that can not see the future and are probably still listening to shortwave radio and watching their Black and White CRT TV.”

      Rubbish, TV isn’t a “need” its a nice to have and one we have already. Are you seriously telling me that within 7yrs we will have a TV revolution and everyone (and I mean everyone) will want to stream 8k+ video but won’t be able to as they don’t have a gig 😀

      Oh dear

      How long have HDTV’s been available in the UK? 10yrs maybe more? Does everyone have a HDTV in the UK yet?

      Same goes for 3D TV, probably a very small minority in the UK have taken up 3D TV

      As usual you and your many aliases are wide of the mark “Mark”

    • Mark

      “Rubbish, TV isn’t a “need” its a nice to have and one we have already. Are you seriously telling me that within 7yrs we will have a TV revolution and everyone (and I mean everyone) will want to stream 8k+ video but won’t be able to as they don’t have a gig :D”

      NO as i clearly stated people like you will be happy with their Black and White TV and rubbish FTTC forever. The rest of us move wit the times.

      Whether you want a HD TV or not thats all you can buy nowadays, you can not easily go buy a brand new SD CRT TV anymore, you would not know that though as you never leave your basement.

      “Same goes for 3D TV, probably a very small minority in the UK have taken up 3D TV”

      No different to broadband terms then… Only a small minority have taken FTTC compared to ADSL also so as usual your so called point is pointless.

      What you may want and what others want differs. What actually happens in a developed country though is tech moves on whether you think it is needed or not. You have no need for high quality video as you have no time to view it as you have no real life outside of internet forums.

  2. Slow Somerset

    Get ready for BT to be handed more Money.

  3. Phil

    Yep, there is 4k tv out now as an early release!

  4. JNeuhoff

    “if we need to return to do full FTTH/P in the future then why not start now instead of tomorrow and get a head start without risk of duplicating the investment? ” Glad to hear I am not the only one asking this very same question 🙂

    • FibreFred

      You might be asking the question a lot, but you not forth coming with the main answer which is where the money comes from, who is willing to put the money up

      ????????????????

    • JNeuhoff

      @FibreFred: I beg to differ, I already posted an alternative finance model on another forum thread and explained why that one won’t cost the taxpayer a penny in the long run, unlike your beloved VDSL copper.

    • FibreFred

      Its not a bad model either, you are just missing one little part to get that model into full swing.

      ——> ££££££££££

  5. Slow Somerset

    Yes lets really be the best In Europe, one time we wanted to be the best In the World.

  6. FibreFred

    7yrs away we’ll need a gig? One to bookmark I reckon, can’t see it myself

    Sounds like scaremongery to me

    • Mark

      Nobody here mentioned any specific speed service we will need. A uncompressed 8K video source though with DTS/true hd sound or similar sure as heck will need more than 80Mb and more than 2-300Mb which is BT’s so called “future” plans.

  7. FibreFred

    So do point topic say why we need a gig?

    And this confuses me:-

    “The major issue will be with those households and businesses who are not in a Virgin Media or other fibre operators footprint (Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, Digital Region, B4RN etc) and who depend on the BT network for their broadband.”

    That makes it sounds like if your own BT your doomed? Surely there’s more chance of you being on a gig in 2020 than if you are with Virgin Media and Digital Region (if you are covered by BT FTTC of course)

    And lets not forget (which people seem to) FTTPoD, are you seriously telling me that BT cannot offer a gig via FTTPoD in 2020? They could now if they wanted

    • JNeuhoff

      FTTPoD, what a joke! It won’t even be available for a long time to come, BT is still ‘trialing’ its order processing system for it according to thinkbroadband. And of course, for some strange reasonf BT can’t do FTTPoD for EO lines, let alone alone outside fibre cabinet areas. FTTPoD is just another one of BTs publicity stunts.

    • FibreFred

      “It won’t even be available for a long time to come”

      Source?

    • Mark

      “And lets not forget (which people seem to) FTTPoD, are you seriously telling me that BT cannot offer a gig via FTTPoD in 2020? They could now if they wanted”

      According to you though nobody needs the speeds you and BT claim it will support either now or in the future so that makes the precious FTTPoD you blabber on about in various comments pointless, just like your contribution here really.

      Your logic is nobody will “NEED” 1gig but you are in favour of FTTPoD???. That makes sense NOT!

      Or are you saying its ok for a minority to want FTTPoD but the moment the minority want 8k video or REAL FTTH the world comes to an end, it costs too much. Even though BT are spending money on pointless tech only a small minority takes already or will take in the future.

      Your only point for some reason is to defend poor BT decisions every minute you can. Nobody knows why you do, its not like your work for them or have any kind of employment much as you wish you did.

    • JNeuhoff

      @Fibrefred: “Source?” I can ask you the same question. We were in touch with BT, the local district council several times on this and anything fibre broadband. Also, sites like thinkbroadband confirm that BT is still ‘trialing’ its online order system for FTToD.

      So from where exactly do you get the notion the FTTPoD will become available anytime soon?
      But then again, you are BTs big defender of anything to do with copper VDSL, so you’d not really need fibre anyway, do you?

    • FibreFred

      I know its being trialled at the moment, I’ve said nothing different. But you are saying it won’t be available anytime soon. In making that statement I assumed you’d heard something official from Openreach?

  8. FTToD is in its Early Market Deployment phase, which is more than a mere trial but does mean that we’re unlikely to see any full commercial products until around next spring. Not that there will be many takers, it’s simply too expensive for the vast majority of home consumers and businesses aren’t quite sure how to view it.

    It’s still a potentially useful solution and one that allows BT to offer full FTTP to FTTC lines, which might make the government happy, but in the correct form it’s by no means a mass market solution.

Comments RSS Feed

Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Promotion
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Hyperoptic £17.00 (*22.00)
    Avg. Speed 30Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: Code: ONLINEDEAL
  • Vodafone £21.00 (*23.00)
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • TalkTalk £22.50
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Plusnet £23.99 (*34.98)
    Avg. Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Sky Broadband £25.00 (*38.99)
    Avg. Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: Free EU Return Flight
Prices inc. Line Rental | View All
Poll
*Javascript must be ON to vote*
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. BT (2180)
  2. FTTP (1561)
  3. Broadband Delivery UK (1434)
  4. FTTC (1420)
  5. Openreach (1138)
  6. Politics (1134)
  7. Business (1028)
  8. Statistics (908)
  9. Fibre Optic (837)
  10. Mobile Broadband (823)
  11. Ofcom Regulation (761)
  12. Wireless Internet (754)
  13. 4G (715)
  14. FTTH (707)
  15. Virgin Media (694)
  16. Sky Broadband (521)
  17. TalkTalk (503)
  18. EE (465)
  19. Security (354)
  20. Vodafone (352)
New Forum Topics
Promotion
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
Sponsored

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms  ,  Privacy and Cookie Policy  ,  Links  ,  Website Rules