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Do We Really Need “Superfast” Broadband?

Sunday, July 27th, 2014 (1:09 am) - Score 8,461
broadband internet speed uk

Do we really need 1Mbps, 10Mbps, 100Mbps or even 1000Mbps (1Gbps) of Internet download and upload speed to enjoy the online world? It’s an interesting question and one with many different answers, usually depending upon both your perspective and personal expectations. But how much Internet speed is really enough?

Some of us still recall the dreaded days of 30-50Kbps (0.03-0.05Mbps) narrowband dialup, where a trek into the online world usually started with series of whistles and crunches from a small box (modem) next to your computer and a minute or so later you’d be connected. Back then it wasn’t uncommon for websites to take a minute or two to load, assuming they didn’t fail first, and even small file downloads could take hours, with some needing days or occasionally weeks to complete. A dire existence by modern standards, perhaps, but at the time this was considered normal.

Back in the days of dialup the idea of streaming even standard definition quality video online was something that only those able to spend £20,000 on a 2Mbps Leased Line could envisage and that would quickly clog up the network for hundreds of workers, yet today almost everybody has this ability. How times have changed.

Mercifully the modern Internet, after initially being revolutionised by the first-generation of affordable ADSL and cable (DOCSIS) based broadband connections at the start of this century, is much improved. Today most websites feel practically instant to load, while the wealth and quality of online content is vastly improved.

In fact you can still do almost everything you want online with a stable connection of 2 Megabits per second, provided you don’t mind waiting or doing it in a lower quality, so why even bother going faster? Obviously anybody hoping to stream a good HD video/TV show or wanting to get other things, such as big file transfers, done in a shorter period of time will laugh at that. Plus what’s HD today will be 4K tomorrow and then 8K after that.

At the same time many of us have perhaps become conditioned by our perceptions and experiences of current Internet technology to expect and accept delays and waiting times as normal.

Speed vs Need

Back when dialup was king a big website that loaded in 20-30 seconds was considered “fast” because that was the norm and then broadband came along to make it virtually instant, which is now the new norm. Perceptions change as technology evolves. Today the UK Government has defined “superfast broadband” as being connections able to deliver Internet download speeds of “greater than 24 Megabits per second“, which rises to 30Mbps for Europe’s universal 2020 Digital Agenda target.

Meanwhile a recent report from Cable Europe predicted consumer demand for broadband ISP download speeds will reach 165Mbps (plus uploads of 20Mbps) by the same date as the EU’s target and some others suggest that we should be setting our sights even higher and aiming to achieve 1000Mbps+. Naturally all of this takes money and usually the faster you go the more it costs to build and deliver (a national 1Gbps+ fibre optic network might need £20bn-£30bn to deploy), which is one of the main reasons why progress has been so slow.

Next to all this there’s no shortage of reports and ISPs telling us that most people will only “need” a much slower speed, such as this BSG study which suggested that a “median household” might only require bandwidth of 19Mbps (Megabits per second) by 2023. Never the less when we survey readers to find out what they want, most people always end up picking the fastest options. Naturally if you could buy a Supercar today then many probably would, so long as they could afford it.

Admittedly 24-30Mbps+ of speed is enough to run several HD video streams at the same time, while a 20-50GB (GigaByte) video game download over Steam or Xbox Live etc. could be done within just a few hours. In fact this is even enough to view a stable 4K video stream over Netflix, so long as nobody else is trying to gobble your bandwidth at the same time. Modern connections also have pretty good latency, which should be fine for playing games.

Make Everything Instant

So why go faster? Firstly it takes time, years in fact, to build out a new infrastructure and what is fast today will just as assuredly be deemed slow tomorrow. In other words, if you’re expecting to need a lot more speed in the future then it’s perhaps best to get started now than wait until tomorrow has arrived.

People might not all “need” that speed yet but the infrastructure should be there to support whatever they want, be it 20Mbps or 2000Mbps, and right now the only way to get that is by building a true fibre optic network (FTTH/P). Granted most of us will be happy with the hybrid-fibre solutions that are currently being rolled out but, as above, we need to be ready before tomorrow arrives and some of today’s hybrid solutions have big limits.. especially at distance (FTTC).

Meanwhile we’re all still conditioned to expect a delay. Every time you download a big multi-GigaByte file or attempt to upload a complex new drawing to a business contact, there’s a delay. Sometimes it’s a few seconds, others it can be minutes and for some it’ll be hours. A huge transfer will almost always attract some delay (especially if you’re the one uploading because upstream traffic is usually much slower). Time is what makes speed matter.

However one of these days we’d like it to be instant or at least as close to that as possible. For example, in an ideal world a 20GB game download wouldn’t take hours or even minutes, it would instead be done only moments after your click. No more long waits. So perhaps when next a telecoms company says “nobody needs more than xx Megabits per second” we should respond by saying, “Kindly be quiet! I want everything to be instant, now make it so“.

The problem is we’d also expect this to be affordable and thus it won’t happen, at least not for most of us and probably not for many more years, and even if it did then by the time you could achieve that the 20GB would have become 200GB or 2000GB and you’d be back to square one. But wouldn’t it be nice if, just for once, we built a national infrastructure that was way ahead of expectations and delivered Gigabits of speed no matter how far you lived from your local node / street cabinet.

Some providers are doing this already (e.g. Hyperoptic, CityFibre), albeit to a much smaller scale and focused on more viable urban areas, yet making the investment case for a 100% national deployment is much harder (you have to cater for sparse communities too) and we can’t blame some for choosing the halfway house of hybrid-fibre. It’s quick to roll-out, comparatively cheap and should help to plug the performance gap for most people. But it’s also likely to need significantly more investment in the future.

Now, does anybody have a few billion pounds going spare so we can do the job properly and keep it affordable?

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Keith is a computer engineer and website developer from Dorset (England) who also assists, on a part-time basis, in the general upkeep of ISPreview.co.uk's systems and services. He also writes the occasional editorial and special offer article. Find me on Contacts.
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62 Responses
  1. Tim

    Got 80Mbps FTTC and feel like it is so under used. Gone are the times that the line is maxed out for hours. As much as I like the idea of having a Gbit connection I just can’t see a reason for it, yet. Still if there was little difference in price I’d get it, especially if it wasn’t BT and didn’t require having phone line rental as well.

    10Gbit isn’t expensive now, a 10Gb (single mode, 10KM) SFP+ module is about £100.

    • FibreFred

      Same here my fttc connection is totally underused , I’m in a FTTPod area and even if it was a lot cheaper I couldn’t justify it as there’s simply no need yet.

      Also there’s a bit more to 10g than the sfp 🙂

      As I’ve always said FTTP just comes down to cost a cost no one is wiling to pay

    • Ignitionnet

      Weirdly enough, Fred, I don’t consider £6,100 and a £270/month 3 year contract a viable product.

      That the SCC vouchers are not flying off the shelves implies that even a £3k subsidy on the install doesn’t make FTTPoD that much more palatable.

      Offer me a product rather than a pisstake and I will buy it. Had the FTTPoD product stayed at original price I would be using it.

      This post brought to you via FTTP, 75/75 + TV and phone for $107/month with no massive install fee.

    • FibreFred

      I take it you missed the bit when I said even if it was a lot cheaper

    • Ignitionnet

      I read it but you were talking about what you could justify. My mileage can and does vary.

      That said it seems had BT actually followed the approach of KPN, Swisscom, etc and deployed FTTP more in urban areas there would just be people moaning on ISP about the digital divide and complaining that the telco spent £700 per home passed deploying FTTP but won’t spend £1,500 on FTTS/RN/C for them.

    • FibreFred

      True 🙂

      There’s enough digital divide complaints already

  2. ShadyCreek

    For all the criticism BT got about only deploying FTTC, I don’t know of anyone (with Infinity) who considers they still have a gap between the speed they get and need.

    My household typically uses 100Gb of data each month with multiple devices connected at most times. Admittedly we are not gamers, but we are streaming HD channels via BT TV. The 60-70Mbps is much more than adequate, and provides plenty of scope for increased use in the future.

    I doubt I’d be prepared to pay more for a faster service at this point. Things would have to change pretty drastically to push demand beyond what I currently get.

    • Bob

      The main issue with FTTC is for the majority it does not deliver quite enough speed. The solution at present would seem to be FTTdp which should deliver enough speed for 99% of users and at a far more sensible price. No sign of BT deploying this yet though, Maybe more interest will be shown when the BDUK rollout starts to slow down

  3. Tim

    The issue with FTTC is the same issue there was/is with ADSL(2+) … distance. It was distance from the exchange, now with FTTC it is distance from the cabinet (or lack of cabinet, EO line).

    Those that can’t get it or don’t get anywhere close to the advertised speeds will soon start to feel in the slow lane.

    For those that get the full (or very close to) the advertised speed they will be happy for probably 3+ years. But the the spread of altnets, such as hyperoptic will be pushing up peoples expectations.

    Broadband is becoming like cars… we all own cars that can go faster then we need (or is legal). Soon broadband will be the same, yet like cars we’ll still want to go faster, just because.

    • FibreFred

      Hyperoptic are pretty much no-where in coverage no real threat at all.

    • ShadyCreek

      Fair point. Admittedly I don’t know anyone with Infinity who is getting a poor speed, so they must all be within reasonable distance of the green box.

    • X66yh

      I know an entire village getting around 10Mbps under BDUK upgraded FTTC service
      …because the cab is not located in the village but on the A-road which passes it ‘nearby’.
      OK it far better than their original bare 1-2Mbps, but it is still nowhere near superfast

  4. 3G Infinity

    I wouldn’t forget that FTTC will become the primary connection for many SMEs, business, thousands of shops as ADSL is retired.

    I and partner work from home, in the evenings 80Mbps would be great as then we can have 2 or 3 set top boxes going streaming video, possibly a Wii and also work – latter means big presentation files etc.

    At the moment its either watch iplayer or use the internet.

  5. phil

    I have a good ADSL+ Upto 8Mb connection supplying an average speed of 6.5Mbps. There are up to 4 in the house using the internet and whilst I acknowledge it is not very often they are all on the internet at the same time, the speed is perfectly adequate for our needs. I have a smart TV and stream catch up TV and Movies OK ( although not always so successful if in HD).

  6. hmmm

    no because superslow fibre vdsl is shite

    • DanielM

      VDSL is not fibre. you are getting confused 🙂

    • adslmax

      DanielM…correct VDSL is not 100% fiber! Still 50% copper to the house from the cabinet and 50% fiber from the exchange to the cabinet. But, in my view, FTTC up to 76Mbps under 200 metre away from the cabinet is fine for every days use in household. But, I prefer 100% fiber (fibre all the way from the exchange to the house) with 1Gbps down and 1Gbps up for around £30 a month without line rental.

    • DanielM

      i would say more than 80% is copper in my case (the exchange is only a few streets away) which is why am able to get nearly 22Mb on a 20dB line.

    • DanielM

      Forgot to addd-

      I don’t consider VDSL fibre at all. nor do i consider virgin media fibre. Fibre is to the house or device. not cabinet.

      Calling VDSL fibre is silly. as we all know fibre dont slow down much (if all) with distances where vdsl does alot.

    • JNeuhoff

      @DanielM: “VDSL is not fibre. you are getting confused :)”

      According to Andrew Ferguson over at thinkbroadband calling it fibre instead of FTTC “gets so much angst going”. And some posters might even start shouting names at you. Truth can hurt.

    • DanielM

      its just facts pal. nothing to get annoyed about. Never really believe anything Andrew says anyway.

  7. dragoneast

    As with everything in the modern world, there’s no consensus. Gone are the days when people accepted what they got. Now we all demand whatever we want, and it is someone’s fault if we don’t get it. So the answer is “you need whatever you want”. And whether you get it is in the lap of the modern-day god, mammon. The real difference is between those who make the best of what they’ve got, and those that won’t. But that’s the hard bit.

    • FibreFred

      “Now we all demand whatever we want”

      Don’t forget we all want it better and at the same or lower cost!

    • Ignitionnet

      Speak for yourself. Most of the people who filled the 288 line Huawei here are paying over twice what they were for ADSL.

    • Raindrops

      Please No confusing it with Maths and multiplication.

  8. Steve Jones

    My VDSL syncs at about 58mbps, but to be honest, I don’t notice any functional difference to when it was running at about 30mbps (due to a line imbalance). It’s plenty enough for a few HD streams running at current speeds. I don’t, personally, see any point in 4K video as, like the vast majority, I sit too far from my TV for it to make any difference (without going to a simply huge screen). I rather think that what makes a film good is the content, and not whether it has a barely visible higher definition.

    It takes a few minutes to download a couple of GB, but it’s hardly a big issue. Are we really at the point where there’s a “need” to download 20GB in a few minutes is now a “need”.

    Personally, the biggest advantage of VDSL was increased upload speeds as uploading a 5 minute HD video could take almost an hour, whilst now it’s less than 5 minutes.

    The other thing I note is that many downloads proceed much slower than sync speed because they are throttled at source. Bandwidth and interconnects cost money, and it looks like lots of companies do this. I don’t see many companies investing in the huge amount of bandwidth and hardware required to service peak demands at 1Gbps.

    Of course, my case isn’t universal. There will be companies who require higher bandwidth for good, commercial and technical reasons. The same might be said of transport links or other local services, and generally companies will locate themselves where these are available. The easy answer might be if your company really needs 1Gbps at an affordable price, then locate it where it is available.

    My sympathies are more for those households and businesses that need a decent, functional broadband service which meets the great majority of requirements. I suspect that this is in the 20-30mbps region for most (albeit with a nod to upload speeds for businesses). Just because there are small, localised demands for much higher bandwidths at low costs, does not mean there’s a viable, self-sustaining market. There’s something rather wrong if a modern, high-tech business like telecommunications has to rely on continuing public subsidy for a substantial part of the market. You have to wonder about the economics. (To be fair, BDUK requires that the installed network will be long-term self-sustaining from a finance point of view).

  9. finaldest

    I am currently on FTTC and its ok at the moment but the service is deteriorating at a steady pace as take up increases. Speeds are not the only issue when it comes to broadband.

    I also have access to cable but dumped the service due to poor reliability but FTTC is heading in the same direction. If I could get a reliable FTTH connection then I would, even if it was expensive as I just want a reliable and fast connection which is future proof.

    I am just getting fed up with the family consistently complaining of broadband issues be it speed, latency, outages, congestion and ISP equipment failures. It just seems that every other day there is a problem that needs resolving.

    All this could be fixed by removing the 19th century tech that is poor copper cable. Faster speeds will be needed sooner rather than later as new services come online so may as well get on with it now rather than wait until its too late.

    • FibreFred

      And be funded how? This is the main issue

    • GNewton

      “And be funded how? This is the main issue”

      This is a bit hypocritical of posters here, especially when they have no objection when so much taxpayer’s money has been spent via the BDUK farce, and this on an old technology which is not future-proof. Add to this the fact that, even where VDSL is available, the vast majority has not subscribed to this service for various reasons.

      First thing to do: Scrap the BDUK immediately, and stop giving this BT beggar taxpayer’s money, BT is a private PLC, not a charity in need of money.

    • FibreFred

      I asked how it will be funded, not another rant about BDUK.

      Long term investors is your answer… sounds good. Who are the long terms investors? Without them I’d say your plan is even more flawed than BDUK at least BDUK is delivering something.

    • Raindrops

      The likes of FTTC and double digit and up Mb speeds are not needed anyway, so there is no need to “fund it” at all. BT should therefore pay back what they have already fleeced from the tax payer.

  10. SlowLincolnshire

    I can see the argument about “need” for speed VS what the ISP’s say that we all need. Not only is the digital divide between urban and rural areas going to grow but also the number of devices have different requirements in order to be able to operate at their maximum efficiency from a single household connection.

    A national FTTP would solve all the issues for all households no matter what their individual requirements are. It would get rid of line rental, allow households to select bandwidth requirements that suit them best and also offer the choice to increase or reduce their bandwidth as their needs change.

    I know that in my house I wouldn’t need anything above 50Mbps download (if I could get it) but it would be nice to be able to purchase a true fibre connection that’s symmetrical, low latency and upgradable.

    Could somebody work out how much bandwidth would be required for a household wanting to stream HD/4K Netflix, Xbox Live gaming, general web browsing/Youtube all at the same time?

    • TheFacts

      Please describe how national FTTP would be funded. And do you mean 100% or eg. 99.5%?

    • SlowLincolnshire

      TheFacts – There’s no need for me to give a reason on how a national FTTP would be funded as my original statement was merely pointing out my thoughts on why I think a national FTTP network would work best for every households broadband needs whether they be small or large. If you would like to ask for peoples opinions on how the cost would be funded then I highly suggest you post in the forums. Simples 🙂

    • Steve Jones

      Well, of course a national fibre network would work best. On that point everybody would agree. However, the question is does it make the most economic sense and how do you get there?

      At the moment we have a market-least approach with a regulatory regime that seeks to minimise prices by controlling the pricing of copper loops. As such, any new technology will have to compete with network which is essentially “sunk cost”. There simply is no room in that model for a national fibre network, although it seems likely there’s space for fibre using “cherry picking” the most cost effective areas. Very probably this will overlap with a lot of the VM market areas plus some new builds and, just maybe, some affluent “islands” of concentration.

      It will fall far short of a national network, let alone one that addresses all those people who can’t get currently acceptable speeds for things like on demand video streaming.

    • GNewton

      @SlowLincolnshire: TheFacts doesn’t conbtribute to this forum, he keeps asking the same stupid question, but never does his homework. It was explained to him in the past on how to get requested figures on broadband lines and availability via Freedom of Information Act, he never followed up on it. it was also explained on it how a FTTP rollout should be funded without wasting taxpayer’s money in the long term. He’s not interested in genuine answers.

    • FibreFred

      GNewton

      And I’ve asked you who these long term investors are that are willing to put the funds into the FTTP rollout.

      Who are they again?

    • Ignitionnet

      The UK excels in terms of provision for rural areas, it is our urban areas where we are behind. Most urban areas are no better served than rural ones.

      Had there been a substantial FTTP rollout in urban areas, as was originally mooted, you may have had a point. There wasn’t, and you don’t, beyond a very small proportion of households.

      The best divide for me is that Dolphinholme has access over 500 times faster than bits of my local area in the 3rd most populace city in the country.

    • gerarda

      @ignitionnet Given that some 25% of the rural areas will still have sub 2mb speeds at the end of the BDUK phase 1 and that a similar will eventually only get the mimimum 2mb thereafter this is hardly a provision that “excels”

    • Ignitionnet

      Excelling is relative. I didn’t pull those numbers from my hindmost go do the research. The category we are behind in relative to most of the rest of Europe isn’t rural SFBB coverage, it is the services available in urban areas.

      Here’s the digital divide you guys are complaining about.

      http://www.cityam.com/1406515300/city-matters-there-market-failure-heart-city-lack-superfast-broadband

      I guess as this is just the middle of a huge city it’s fine, right?

      Best go and tell the people served by 2 of the 4 cabinets on this suburban housing estate to be grateful and think of those in rural areas. All these properties have underground ducting, there will be rural areas having more spent deploying FTTC to them than would be required to deploy FTTP here.

      Again though we’re in an urban area, so of course regardless of the actual infrastructure costs it must be fine. Way better to go for the lowest common denominator than risk exacerbating the ‘digital divide’.

  11. sentup.custard

    I am probably in the minority in that I’m not too bothered about download speeds – I was fairly content with my old 2Mbps service, now get around 18Mbps and don’t see the need for anything faster – but find the download/upload imbalance extremely irritating, as uploading to my website takes ages, and I could definitely do with the same speed up.

    So – my answer to “Do we really need superfast broadband?” in its existing form would be both “Yes” and “No”!

    To get a decent upload with FTTC I’d have to shell out for the expensive 80/20 option, paying for a download speed that I do *not* need.

    Luckily, living where I do, there is now a solution – 4G is here, and on experimenting I find that I can get good upload speeds with that, rather variable but from about 20Mb to 40Mb, which is fine. With my low usage (well under 20GB a month total up and down), when the saving on line rental is taken into account it actually works out cheaper, so I’m ditching the landline, and BT can keep their “Superfast” broadband that is only “Superfast” in one direction.

  12. Darren

    More speed is better, as long as latency and jitter doesn’t suffer. Need really doesn’t come into it. If we are serious about fully exploiting the advantages of high speed internet, the faster the better because the faster the connection the more potential it has and the more people who have a fast connection the more services will be invented to take advantage of it.

    One current usage case for a faster the better conection is online backup, I have no interest in spending a weeks uploading backups but it I could do it in a few hours or days that’s another story. More is better, necessary even, to unleash the full usage potential.

    Personally I don’t care how the speed is delivered as long as the speed is there and the quality of the connection (latency/jitter) doesn’t suffer.

    I also think focusing solely on download speed is a mistake, upload is just as if not more important especially when the download speed reaches a certain level.

  13. TTT

    I agree that speed isn’t everything.
    I work for a company with about 20 employees, and our 10mbit/s 1:1 line is a dream to use (albeit at £400 / month).
    The only use case where it is less than ideal is an online backup scenario, that will take over 26 hours to complete – ouch!

    Having such a connection at home would be a dream. Sadly, I have a (nominally faster) consumer connection at home, and some tasks are a real pain, particularly connecting to my computer via VPN.

    I don’t think this has anything to do with the speed of the connection, but rather with the fact that upstream traffic is poorly prioritised and a consumer line typically has about 50 other users using it as well – bad times when the World Cup is on…

    From my perspective, I’d be happy taking a speed penalty for better reliability, but unfortunately, a proper business line is not in my budget.
    Sadly, it’s the speed figures that sell to the consumer; they don’t typically know much about latency and contention (readers of this forum excepted)

    • Max

      I think it just depends on person to person. I get through several hundred GB’s a month despite being on just 3Mbit.

      I would quite easily hit 1TB some months if I had a nice 80Mbit FTTC connection. Next gen console games are around the 50GB mark, Netflix and YouTube 4K streaming uses lots of bandwidth too.

      So yes, for me it would be a really positive to have FTTC. I suspect for many it would go wasted.

  14. Simon

    This is like asking how much water supply do you want to a house, is 1L/min sufficient?

    Everyone consumes a different amount and it should handle bursts. If I am sending a large 300GB backup file to someone and they only have 80Mbps or I only have 20Mbps upload its going to be painfully slow. We should just get our finger out and deploy 10Gbps to everyone and 1Gbps should be a baseline budget offering from the router. If they only use it at 700Mbps because their computer is slow then that’s fine but now its their choice how they use it. If they have visitors around they can burst appropriately and the entire network would be slightly less contended without people saturating the low speed connections for days to get files.

    The cost of fibre is lower than copper in so many ways, just because the copper is in the ground/on the poles it shouldn’t restrict those wishing to pay the capital expenditure themselves to get a more modern access method. Today it does.

    Its perfectly practical to have a higher contention of 10Gbps connections over a pair of 100Gbps trunks without anyone even noticing than you can do with 80Mbps over 1Gbps links. It is purely a budget choice by BT and other providers now the backbone fibre is already in place combined with a desire to artificially restrict the uk and gain as much life from the existing cable as possible.

    Someone replied to someone else that its more than just an SFP to get 10Gbps however it shouldn’t be if the cable is already present and a good quality router had been deployed as the access distribution. Consumer routers supporting 10Gbps are also fairly cheap now, just the switches are a bit expensive still for home use.

    • FibreFred

      A cheap consumer router that can really route 10Gbps? I don’t mean having a physical interface that can support 10Gbps I mean a router that can shift 10Gbps from its LAN to WAN and vice versa

    • Simon

      I too had dialup at 14Kbps, we’ve made good progress but it doesn’t seem like the access network has kept pace with home networks. My first home network was 10Mbps half duplex in the dialup days until they came out with 512Kbps broadband. Then there was 100Mbps in the house, then 10Mbps broadband.

      Now there’s 100Mbps broadband and 1Gbps in the house. The next logical step is 1Gbps broadband and 10Gbps in the house but the technology to simply eliminate the boundary difference is now available for no real extra cost. We can all have LAN speeds to each other, it would be very nice and decentralise things a lot.

  15. Simon

    Fred: Mikrotik cloud core routers can and are firmly budget prices. There are others too.

  16. Bob

    Need? No. Want? Of course.

  17. DTMark

    Do we really need motorways?

    Indeed, do we really need A-roads?

    What are they for – you’d still get where you were going without them.

    • Steve Jones

      No, you wouldn’t get there without motorways. At least with current traffic volumes. IO remember the days when main roads went through towns and a trip to the West Country from London could take 12+ hours. Supermarkets would not get supplies and the whole of the economy would revert to that at the end of the 1950s, yet with much more congestion.

      So yes, if you want our current economy you need those motorways.

    • DTMark

      .. and there we have the answer to the question posed in the article title.

    • FibreFred

      For me , some need superfast broadband now, some don’t need it but most will eventually need it so start providing it now.

      I doubt anyone needs 10Gbps though… I know large firms with multiple datacentres serving 3000 employees that have 700Mbps Internet pipes, just to put it in perspective.

  18. Neil

    Personally I’d be satisfied with a 10Mb uncapped (Or at least generous peak/offpeak) connection. I’d love a 1Gb FTTH style one and could find ways to make use of it, especially if it was symmetric, but 10Mb would cover all the stuff that really bothers me on my sub 2Mb DSL. Being unable to stream HD, and having the net slow to the crawl if anyone is even streaming SD in the house sucks.

    I can get 16Mb via a WISP, but with a 10Gb monthly cap, and additional allowance at £1.20/GB it’s almost pointless.

  19. Steve

    Simply put I can guarantee there will be people working tirelessly to give someone in an innercity location a boost from 10Mbs to 80Mbs whilst many have less than 3Mbs or none at all.

    Apart from just the wait time, aww poor dears you have to wait 10 minutes for your full HD download, there is nothing you can’t do at 80Mbs than 10Mbs.

  20. Book your next holiday in the beautiful Lune Valley folks, and try out the gigabit network. Its only £30 a month and unlimited, you would fall in love with it, and with the B4RN area and the fantastic people so you could consider relocating?

    • Chris tells it like it is. Time you put your house on the market, hyperfast’ll be all around the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This time next year, you can call into the Gibraltar Farm Campsite and try it out for size. God bless the altnets – ‘tickularly B4RN!

  21. Paul Garbett

    Ah – the old do we really need it argument. Sounds very familiar to me – like the do we rely need broadband at all some years ago. Of course we need it that thing that is the ‘internet’ adapted quickly, too quickly for some of us, and that is why dial-up became totally unusable. The same is happening now – most cloud services are a real struggle for anyone on ADSL, cable is a pipe-dream for all but highly populated areas and the kicker is, there is a nationwide network that would do the job if copper could be replaced (to the home) by a future-proofed (for now) technology that is fibre.
    Chris Conder is right to mention the Lune Valley and B4RN. That initiative proves that it can be done, it can be done well and the benefits are immense. The trouble is that things like B4RN will never benefit anyone but the community and that goes against the big business principles of making money for… well let’s call them shareholders (I have another more colourful Anglo-Saxon name for them!)

  22. Curious

    I thought I’s add my 2 cents to this.

    So, do ‘we’ need it?

    But who is we?

    Is it me, who lives in a 1 bed flat, who uses the internet to stream a few movies a month, and do a little research for work and uni?

    Or is it Mr Usealot who has 3 kids between 10 and 17, and his wife?
    Both work from home on occasion, and sometimes at the same time.
    They can be transferring huge files to their workplaces, while their kids are playing Xbox or watching some Hi-Def TV online.

    Obviously, they are going to need quite a bit of bandwidth to be able to service their needs, whilst I will need hardly anything compared to them.

    At the minute I’m on an ADSL2+ 14 Mbps line, and that works out just fine for me.
    But I hardly use it for anything.

    A 1GB connection would be pointless for me, but would work wonders for Mr Usealot.

    I guess what any CP needs to bear in mind, when enabling an area for a particular kind of service, is whether a return on their investment is worthy of them spending the billions of £’s it will take to enable said area.

    So, do ‘we’ need it or do ‘you’ need it?

    If you are 1 person in a town that wants 1GB, is it viable to enable it there? I think not.

    To be brutally honest, why do we have to have everything in an instant? What happened to the days where you could wait, or look forward to doing/getting something, rather than screaming at screens because you have 1 hour left on a 4Gb file download?

  23. Patrick Cosgrove

    The test for whether we need it now is uptake figures from the BDUK programmes. If they are poor, maybe the government could have saved its money by prioritising rural and urban sub-2 Mb users with ADSL2+. Does anyone have those figures? If they are poor, building for the future should have been based on FTTP and a longer term financial approach instead of blowing over £2 Bn on something that’s already obsolete.

  24. cyclope

    For some the head line speed of the product isn’t the most important factor, what some would like is a problem free connection FTTC doesn’t for some provide this due to poor quality D’side cables or local sources of REIN type electrical interference from neighbouring premises/Pairs What most want is a quality connection that doesn’t fail or isn’t affected by a neighbours plasma tv etc , only true fibre(FTTH/B) can provide that BT aren’t providing this except for a few areas,in the uk,they have IMO deliberately hiked the the prices for FTTPoD in order to make it a non viable option for most, because they don’t really want to do the work involved maybe

    • WJS

      For most people the peak downstream speed isn’t the most important factor, however it’s so aggressively marketed (typically the only spec listed) that most people don’t seem to know this; it is of course a vicious circle. Try living with our connection though, and I think just about anyone would get the message. ~8Mbps is just fine for most use cases, but you get intimately familiar with which protocols are robust to packet loss (we’ve logged as high as 30% sustained).

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