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UPD Virgin Media’s Parent Commits to Gigabit Speed Broadband by 2018

Thursday, November 24th, 2016 (4:00 pm) - Score 7,235
Liberty Global Gigaworld DOCSIS GIGAReady

Liberty Global, which is parent to UK cable operator Virgin Media, has today launched a new initiative called GIGAWorld that will help to promote their plans for rolling out Gigabit capable broadband (1000Mbps+) to the 12 European countries in which it operates (most could be done by the end of 2018).

At present the vast majority of Virgin Media’s network in the United Kingdom, as well as across much of Liberty Global’s EU base, is deployed using their Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) network, which uses a mix of fibre optic cables and copper coax lines to reach inside homes using EuroDOCSIS 3 technology.

On top of that they’re working to reach an extra 2 million UK premises by using Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) broadband technology, which uses pure fibre optic lines and is made compatible with their existing DOCSIS network by using Radio Frequency over Glass (RFoG).

The top residential speed of both FTTP and HFC solutions is currently 300Mbps in the UK, although the limited (availability) FTTP side of their network is already able to deliver Gigabit-class speeds when required and they could squeeze a fair bit more out of EuroDOCSIS 3 if needed.

Mike Fries, Liberty Global’s CEO, said:

“Our scale, commitment and ambitious plans to invest in the infrastructure of our age make us perfect partners to deliver the EU’s vision of a Gigabit Society. Today our fibre-rich networks can connect 50 million GIGAReady homes and we are currently expanding to millions more over the next few years, helping accelerate the digital revolution in Europe.”

As part of Liberty’s GIGAWorld vision the operator has today published a new report from consultancy firm Communications Chambers (they also recently produced this separate FTTP report for BT), which examines the fastest and most cost-effective ways of reaching the European Commission’s goals for access to ultrafast broadband by 2025 (i.e. 100Mbps+ for all homes and 1Gbps+ for all business / schools).

The report agrees with the European Commission (EC) that a range “very high capacity” (VHC) technologies – such as G.fast close to the end-user, FTTP/H/B and HFC DOCSIS – are all capable of meeting the 2025 targets. The report adds that in the case of VHC networks based on DOCSIS, Gigabit speeds “could be achieved as early as the end of 2017.”

Interestingly the report also warns that an “over-prescriptive policy of focussing solely” on FTTP risks “jeopardising investment” and it thus supports a technology-neutral approach. It says: “The wrong intervention could be wasteful, or even damaging. For example, support for an expensive and slow-to-deploy technology could drive up prices and paralyse investment in other technologies which might have delivered improved performance more quickly.”

In keeping with that the report criticises South Korea and Japan’s substantial government interventions to support FTTP, which are often hailed as a benchmark for everybody else. “Both countries have performed relatively poorly in their use of socially or economically-valuable internet applications, such as e-government and e-health, despite their superior (and expensive) infrastructure,” said the report.

Naturally part of the context behind this criticism is to highlight the unique ability of existing HFC “Cable” networks to deploy Gigabit ready broadband (GIGAReady) to millions of premises and in double quick time.

Robert Kenny, co-Author of the Report, said:

“Thanks to investment already under way by cable operators, Gigabit broadband will be available to roughly half the premises in Europe by 2018 – far ahead of the Commission’s target of 2025. This will allow the Commission (and member states) to focus elsewhere, where interventions are necessary.”

Going forwards we expect Virgin Media’s HFC network will soon be upgraded to support the next generation of DOCSIS 3.1 technology, which is capable of Gigabit speeds. This is arguably a lot more important than their FTTP roll-out due to its existing coverage (overall Virgin’s network should cover around 60-65% of the UK by 2019).

The first hardware is already set for DOCSIS 3.1 (here) and Virgin has been quietly building support into their network. Last year Liberty suggested that the DOCSIS 3.1 roll-out could begin towards the end of 2016, although we’ve heard very little since then.

Meanwhile today’s report claims to outline Liberty Global’s plan for bringing Gigabit Internet speeds to the 12 European countries in which it operates and, as the information above suggests, we could see Gigabit broadband (e.g. DOCSIS 3.1) being rolled out across their networks by as soon as the end of 2017 or 2018.

By comparison Openreach’s (BT) G.fast and FTTP might not hit that sort of coverage level until 2025 and G.fast isn’t even aiming for Gigabit speeds in the UK (500Mbps is the more distant and optimistic expectation, but until then the best will be ‘up to’ 300Mbps).

We have asked for an update on Virgin Media’s local plan and are awaiting a reply, but in the meantime here’s a swanky promotional video that features some of Liberty’s engineering teams doing their thing..

UPDATE 7:31pm

The official line from Virgin Media is that “We are always focussed on giving our customers the fastest speeds. We’ll keep you updated with further developments.” We understand that Virgin is still mulling over the exact time-scale for their DOCSIS 3.1 deployment, but it’s widely expected to fall within Liberty’s above target by the end of 2018.

We’re hoping to hear something more concrete towards the latter half of next year. Once it gets going then 3.1 won’t take long to roll-out.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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49 Responses
  1. Ignition

    Ooooh shiny.

  2. Mike C

    Earlier than I thought

  3. Ignition

    The equipment VM have been installing to allow for 300Mb is DOCSIS 3.1 capable, which is nice, and all areas should be running on this equipment soon, which will make a massive difference, too, to those areas experiencing poor peak time performance at the moment.

    The project to increase upstream capacity to individual modems through increasing channels bonded is ongoing.

    Overbuilding of areas with limited bandwidth is ongoing.

    Splitting of nodes to reduce service group sizes is business as usual but pushes fibre deeper each time.

    Looking forward to the complaints from people who can only get 500Mb from their 940Mb or whatever it has to be advertised as at peak times.

    Anyway that’s my relevant comment on the thread, cue all the people complaining about VM’s service/pricing/performance as it stands right now in t-minus…

  4. AndyC

    So am i right in thinking that virgin is almost ready to switch their entire network on to gigabit? surely if thats the case then it makes openreaches hopes for g.fast look rather pathectic and totaly worthless……. not bad for something that runs on what is basicly a aerial cable.

    I look forward to the day they come down our street.

    • FibreFred

      Virgin have always outperformed in terms of headline speeds.

      Why doesn’t Virgin have every single broadband customer on their network in Virgin enabled areas?

      Why isn’t everyone on Virgin’s top speed tier?

      Because… it isn’t all about speed for most people

    • Ignition

      A point Liberty’s consultants themselves make in their report.

    • FibreFred

      Its great to see BTW, although most of it won’t be included in all of these fibre obsessed reports

    • dave

      you can request virgin to cable your street via their website. If they get enough people in your area to request this then they might do it.

    • AndyC

      Very good points fibrefred and ignition but i have 3 work mates all on virgins 300meg package here and all three have pings less then 10ms and all 3 have never had any slowdown or congestion. Hell even their hub3s have all worked flawless for them. Even my mum and brother has virgin and never once had a problem so ive seen first hand how good there service can be when working well.

      As for getting my street to sign up for it its hard when your street is about 4 miles long with over 2000 houses and businesses on it

    • DTMark

      “Why isn’t everyone on Virgin’s top speed tier?
      Because… it isn’t all about speed for most people”

      No, not yet. As streaming TV becomes more and more popular and is delivered at higher resolutions, which isn’t that far away, that 10Mbps – maybe 30Mbps – even 60Mbps VDSL connection won’t cut it.

      Something BT has only just deployed, described as “Next Generation Access” is then inadequate.

      So without action, eventually, huge numbers of people will indeed abandon the BT network just to get something that works.

      They might not need gigabit speeds, but to see a world where people need far more than VDSL speeds is easy.

      The look at the price promotions Virgin can run, like the one in the other article.

      The idea that BT can charge a “premium price” for G.Fast then becomes laughable.

      So that fibre is going to need to be brought within a couple of hundred meters of properties with those nodes for BT to even keep pace with where VM is now let alone the future.

      It’s just so very far behind and that’s going to begin to bite. This competition thing is such a bugger.

      In the meantime looking forward to the Virgin Media over-build of our BDUK area – decent fixed line at last.. FTTP.. no taxpayer’s money. That old phone line is coming up on a decade unused now. If there’s even a spare pair there anyway.

    • FibreFred

      As tv becomes more popular via the Internet ways to transport it also improve (compression)

    • MikeW

      “As streaming TV becomes more and more popular and is delivered at higher resolutions, which isn’t that far away, that 10Mbps – maybe 30Mbps – even 60Mbps VDSL connection won’t cut it.”

      and

      “As tv becomes more popular via the Internet ways to transport it also improve (compression)”

      Last week, I tried watching Clarkson et al on their debut on Amazon Prime.

      HD took about 8Mbps. UHD took 16Mbps.

      Neither stream caused any problem on the 76Mbps VDSL2 supply. The family continued to double-screen to their heart’s content while it was on.

      It’s likely that 85-90% of FTTC users would have the same experience. When you combine that with VM coverage, there’s probably 86%+ of the country that could already get that.

  5. Data Analysis

    Go and try to stream some real 4k content rather than low bitrate flash and MS silverlight rubbish.

    Drag or copy this link into a new chrome window or VLC Player ans see how your FTTC deals with it

    http://distribution.bbb3d.renderfarming.net/video/mp4/bbb_sunflower_native_60fps_normal.mp4

    Thats not a stupidly massive file either at only 793MB

    Quality files using X265 wont help either, drag or copy this link into VLC or similar streaming player (X265 direct links will not stream in a chrome window)

    http://downloads.4ksamples.com/downloads/sample-Elysium.2013.2160p.mkv

    Thats a average bitrate of just over 53Mb/ps a 400MB file and runs just over 1 minute. SOOOO it should stream right??? Nope as its variable bitrate and its peak for some scenes goes well above the 53Mbps average.

    X265 being the great streaming answer is wrong, that last file even if you download it you will need a pretty high spec PC to play it back even non-streaming.

    X265 was never designed to make files smaller as the common misconception is it was designed to compress detail better, the smaller file size you normally get from it is the better algorithm being applied and shrinking simple scenes (IE big slabs of black or single colour) down to stupidly small sizes. Movement and detail and to preserve REAL 4k quality it wont make the situation better as it will apply high bitrate to them.

    Please lets not confuse 4k youtube and 4k Silverlight re-encoded junk with the real thing.

    • FibreFred

      I’ve no interest in 4k

    • FibreFred

      “Drag or copy this link into a new chrome window or VLC Player ans see how your FTTC deals with it

      http://distribution.bbb3d.renderfarming.net/video/mp4/bbb_sunflower_native_60fps_normal.mp4

      Did on my FTTC and it plays with no issues at all, no buffering, stalling anything, works fine. It is downloading much faster than it plays.

    • MikeW

      Fair enough – Amazon 4k can’t hold a candle to “proper” 4k.

      However, for the mass market, that doesn’t matter.

      What matters is the encoding rate that the mass market suppliers choose: Netflix, Amazon, Youtube, NowTV, BBC etc. That’ll define how many mass market subscribers might be happy.

      Lets not confuse the mass market for the esoteric demand.

      As for the example files… I played the first via a chrome window. It streamed just fine, as per @FibreFred. I’ll look tomorrow at what happened to the bitrates as measured by the router.

      But also like @FibreFred, I don’t much care about 4k. In fact, to watch 4k of TGT I needed to plug the Prime box direct into the TV, rather than its normal home (via a non-4k sound system).

    • FibreFred

      I bet you’ll find most people aren’t bothered. Much like the Sound buffs you’ll get a minority of people that “can only” listen on particular set-up whereas others are fine with a ok/decent set-up.

      Same goes for TV. I can honestly say on my TV which is only 2-3yrs old (Samsung) I’d be hard pressed to see much if any difference between 720 and 1080p, certainly nothing that would have me putting my hand and saying… wooah there I’m not having this in 720 it won’t cut it.

      Most people aren’t bothered so.. don’t bother yourself about multiple 4k streams for now.. or for years

    • Data Analysis

      @FF – That video goes above FTTC speeds at several points, the first around the 10 second mark where it will attempt to buffer in VLC and in a chrome windows will pause for a second or two. It will then do the same multiple times from about the 27-45 second mark. At its highest bitrate it tops out at 82Mbps for exactly 1.32seconds of playback.

      Yes in a chrome window and looking at the playbar it will look like its loading quicker than it is, that’s because the chrome playbar is actually an ETA of download not a true how much in total has loaded (a bit like youtube in html5 where that will indicate the whole video has loaded which is a lie as html5 can not download more than about 50Mb to cache at any one time.)

      As for the X265 although you did not mention it, you and nobody with less than 110 (ish) Mbps and a i7 or higher PC will have any chance of playing that one.

      @MikeW you are right the mainstream matters, Amazon video started out as flash, and previously only had 720p as its max. It now uses silverlight to enable basic 1080p and 4k streaming. this will change again when x265 comes along (as that cant be done in silverlight or a browser window).

      The BBC and iplayer never even previously had 1080p content. Youtube 4k content can require upto 30-50Mbps which many do not have now, when youtube goes over to VP9 (a variation of x265) entirely people wanting to watch beyond 720p in a lot of cases will be screwed. There is your next 2-5 years of changes for those services.

    • Data Analysis

      Ah audio that is another thing entirely NO streaming service at the moment can do more than 5.1 sound (normally in AC3 or AAC format). Most of the time it will only be stereo to give the video more bitrate for their *cough* low quality so called 4k content.

      Another thing which will have to go the way of the dinosaur when VP9 and higher is used as videos in that format will not play nice with sound in those formats (especially AAC). Normally ends up in sync issues when you try to skip through a file as VP9 video can not buffer as much as AC3 and AAC audio.

      VP9 is the future at least for 2 years, beyond that VP10 using AV1 as its codec will be used. That can already do beyond 4k streaming and 10-bit HDR video. File sizes will not get significantly smaller either. A really squashed 1 hour video will currently use about 1.4gig in x264 and about 1gig in x265, in VP9 and 10 its in between the 2.

      “next gen” FTTC inside 5 years will not be enough.

    • DTMark

      Now try three streams at once.

    • FibreFred

      @da what can I say apart from the first link played fine using Firefox didn’t try it in vlc or chrome.

      Second link in vlc didn’t stand a chance that said I don’t even know if my laptop could play it locally as you say.

      @ DTMark why would I , we don’t have a requirement to stream that level of quality once never mind * 3

    • FibreFred

      Ok so I tried this again in VLC

      http://distribution.bbb3d.renderfarming.net/video/mp4/bbb_sunflower_native_60fps_normal.mp4

      No dice , lots of buffering. So… in Firefox it must be doing something different

    • Data Analysis

      Its possible it is using Windows Media Foundation extensions along with DXVA hardware acceleration in Firefox.

      Does it buffer or take a few seconds to load at the very start (may just be 2 or 3) before playback starts in Firefox and then play smooth? If so that media foundation loading data to cache, examining it and then enabling hardware acceleration to ensure it loads enough data first to prevent buffering/stuttering. IE in reality its cheating and downloading (at least in part) rather than streaming per say.

      That is not a bad thing, in fact its a good thing for video in a browser to do, will also once it starts lower CPU usage.

      The X265 (ie the second) one is very demanding, that is why i picked it (ok i cheated a bit that time :D) i can just about play that in Media Player Classic and VLC smoothly when fully downloaded and thats on a i7-4790 with 16gig. Ive only ever seen it stream perfectly once and that was on a similar spec machine with a 1gig full fibre connection.

      I think DTmarks comment regarding trying three streams at once is to emulate a normal household who could be using 3 streaming services at once or all watching different things at once. Which on videos like i pointed to may be a bit unrealistic, however that is not unrealistic when it comes to Youtube and 1080p and 4k on there, especially if you have a house with 2 or 3 kids only a few years apart in age.

      A typical 4k youtube video like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPmS49MBxc4 is 24Mbps Average bitrate, just trying to run 2 of them at once right now will cripple more than a few FTTC connections, running 3 at once (IE total of 72Mbps downstream) will cripple FTTC for all but the very lucky few.

      Either way the future from BT, Virgin and others will be interesting and so will media and entertainment, we are not far off from real mass market IPTV in this country which will be another PITA for ISPs.

    • FibreFred

      Nope in the browser it starts immediately I cleared the cache as well and it starts straight off, strange.

    • MikeW

      The stream I tried yesterday showed as hitting 53Mbps, but the graph only sampled each minute. That peak wasn’t sustained for all 10 minutes.

      I didn’t see any blocking or buffering/pauses either. Definitely not at those time points.

      Note that the Amazon Prime TV was on one of the newer Fire TV boxes. Surely that doesn’t use Silverlight?

    • Data Analysis

      Interesting Fibrefred, when i get home i will have to install firefox and have a play.

      @MikeW that 53Mbps is the files AVERAGE bitrate as i explained earlier.

      Amazon Fire devices are capable of playing a number of formats.

      The fire STICK for instance can do all these…
      https://developer.amazon.com/public/solutions/devices/fire-tv/docs/device-and-platform-specifications

      The fire tv (NON STICK £70 odd version) adds VP8 and VP9 to the equation (click the second tab on that link titled Fire TV (Gen 2.) ) Those are likely to be the future for streaming (at least VP9 with VP10 due within a couple of years).

      Its not the device itself which is Silverlight dependant its Amazons Video service which requires silverlight when you watch their content in a browser.
      Most recent version of chrome can use HTML5 and FF V47 or newer can use widevine, however that has its own issues (memory related).

      The same goes for Netflix, and the reason for having to have Silverlight, widevine or HTML5 on both services is because its all DRM protected content to *BIG COUGH* (it does not stop it) prevent copying the material. And no for others before they ask im not gonna explain how, if they want a hint its, trick your browser into thinking its a another device to get the 3gp/webm version of the content.

    • Adam

      FTTC was fine, oddly enough 200mbps Virgin stuttered and buffered like hell.

  6. john

    @DT Mark

    “Now try three streams at once”

    Whilst the first one played fine on my FTTC even when I had VM 300 I still couldn’t get 2 of them to play at once (we’ve all had this conversation before)

    I can get VM where I am but I don’t have it anymore – will be interesting to see where BT/VM are in a year/2 years time knowing I can get both

  7. john

    I get everything through the TV anyway and most of it is in 4K/UHD – but FTTC does it for me for now.

  8. DTMark

    Quite so..

    I tried the 4K video at the top 2160p and it flew up to ~26Mbps immediately and stayed there. It plays flawlessly. And churns through data rapidly.

    We can do that as we have a 4G connection. VDSL couldn’t do that here (800m from cabinet, line ~1.3km). Not even an option. Cabinet might as well be 800 miles away.

    Virgin might well have the “last mile” capability to deliver 2Gbps downstream and beyond but this will need serious backhaul for point-to-point (not multicast) like this, and it’s all for nothing if your “up to 300Mbps” connection falls to bits every evening at 7pm as everyone tries to use it.

    And yet, BT don’t even have that “last mile” capability. Certainly, 3 streams all @ ~26Mpbs, a VOIP/video chat at the same time and appliances using IoT isn’t going to work well with VDSL even if you’re right next to the cabinet and most are not.

    Just 2 streams is going to be beyond most VDSL connections. And even one stream beyond a significant enough number.

    • FibreFred

      “And yet, BT don’t even have that “last mile” capability. Certainly, 3 streams all @ ~26Mpbs, a VOIP/video chat at the same time and appliances using IoT isn’t going to work well with VDSL even if you’re right next to the cabinet and most are not.”

      But how many people need 3?

      If you “need” three you’d have already invested in great TV’s and will invest in the right internet connection to fit your need.

      Don’t take 3 * 4k streams + a load of other stuff as mr average internet

      Why not 5 streams?, 6 or 7 for larger families?

      Nonsense

    • MikeW

      Yup. It is always possible to create a use case that DSL cannot meet. Just take an infeasibly large data stream, and multiply it by an implausibly high number of parallel users. Even BT includes such use cases in their calculations.

      However, to turn it into a real-world impact, it is countered by the infinitesimally small number of premises that it applies to, and the miniscule points in the time of day when such parallelism occurs.

      It’ll change in the future, for sure. But so will the supply side, just as surely.

      This scenario isn’t one that is likely to be giving sleepless nights to planners yet. In fact, I’d have more concern over whether your 4G connection can sustain 26Mbps into the future.

    • Data Analysis

      I do not agree with how much data a VOIP stream DTMark mentions will consume BUT 3 streams or anything using 20Mb+ each at a time is not unrealistic Fibrefred.

      In a household of 4 people you could have the Mum watching her latest soaps she missed out on during the week due to work, Dad wanting to watch a film or football in a UHD stream if they are on Sky, Billy 1 youtubing, Billy 2 may want to download a 2+gig system update on his Playstation.

      Most households have more than one TV nowadays so expecting 2-3 people all watching different stuff at the same time is not unrealistic.

      I personally believe a modern house needs at least 50Mbps minimum nowadays to as close as can be all be able to do what they need at once with little sacrifice. Ideally 60+Mbps see you have 5+(ish)Mb free even at busy/heavy use times. FTTC for many will not do that.

      The 10Mbps USO which is coming is pointless also, a youtube 1080p stream which all of us have watched at some point can be 7Mbps on its own. (typical average bitrate is about 5Mb topping out at 8Mb). Which makes trying to do anything else productively (IE not like a connection 10 years ago) impossible.

      Do not even get me started on download limits even with a 100GB limit per month (like the cheapest Infinity 52Mb has) i can show you a videos on youtube which are 3GB in total size meaning you could not watch that just ONCE per day and do any regular browsing/internet use on top. I hope BT and other ISPs sooner rather than later scrap them entirely. The stress in must bring some homes if they have anyone who wants to watch any video, or a child that just wants to stream a game with school friends for a few hours. The fights it must cause as to whos had their use for the month over another in the house.

    • FibreFred

      I’m not debating 3 people watching at once I’m debating all three needing to view at a quality requiring 20Mbps.

      Most people don’t “need” that I don’t think anyone “needs” it

    • Ignition

      There are a ton of potential use cases however for right now 3Mb/s per customer is okay overall, with overhead for burst of course.

      The kind of usage pattern mentioned is a massive outlier.

    • TheFacts

      2G Playstation update?

      An update to the PlayStation 3 system software was released on 1st November 2016. If you update your PS3 system, the system software version will be 4.81 and the following features will be updated. In order to download PS3 system software version 4.81, you will need a minimum 200MB of free space on either the PS3 Hard Disk Drive (System Update) or on removable storage media (PC Update).

    • DTMark

      (sigh) infrastructure is not about the “now”, it’s about the “then”.

      Which I think closer than is being argued here. 4K TVs are cheap nowadays. 8K next.

      Just that, in itself, with a secondary household need like X-Box or another stream will kill so many VDSL connections.

      The video chat might only need maybe 6Mbps both ways but pile that on top and it’s asking for trouble.

      Virgin can roll out the upgrade for a really small cost per user.

      BT haven’t even got started.

    • FibreFred

      So when is then , when this “need” arises?

    • Ignition

      This article is about Virgin Media’s parent. VM, in common with virtually all cable companies, upgrades on a just-in-time CapEx basis. While the DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade isn’t that expensive VM have a bunch of other upgrades they are constantly doing.

      If VM were working on the ‘then’ they would have replaced the coax already.

      VM used to have fibre shared between 3-5000 premises. It’s now more like 3-500. In time it’ll be n+0, basically FttDP.

      I hope BT have an ongoing programme to do similar, with deployment of G.fast from existing nodes akin to the DOCSIS 3.1 deployments with 1Gb down, 20 or 35Mb up as no infrastructure upgrades were done beyond changing the kit either side: an interim solution.

    • Ignition

      Reading this post again I think you misunderstand where the crunch point is on DOCSIS networks. In common with PON and other shared networks the bottleneck is usually on the access network. Upgrading the access network is considerably more expensive and time consuming than upgrading the backhaul.

      As further viewing on how people like VM upgrade their networks I would recommend watching https://youtu.be/bOAjzKY51-I

    • Ignition

      As an addendum regarding the need for such backhaul cable already has solutions for this. Remote CCAP removes broadcast TV entirely, converting it to multicast hence only using bandwidth on demand. In addition it allows for capacity allocated to ‘broadcast’ TV and broadband service to be flexed depending on needs.

      The new Liberty STB is a cloud-based device on many levels. It has a coaxial input for broadcast channels and apart from that does everything else, right down to the EPG via its link to the Superhub. It has no cable modem of its own, it demodulates only, relying on the Superhub for its return path. It could certainly be used to migrate entirely from broadcast down the coaxial port to IPTV via its connection to the VM Superhub in the property.

      With converged networks like that, CCAP and then all-IP, alongside business as usual CapEx cable should be fine.

      After 2020 Openreach will almost certainly be deploying active hardware deeper into their network again.

      All the above said there’s no reason right now to think that the 50%-ish per year increase in bandwidth consumption won’t continue at that kind of level, so there’s no incredible rush to deliver hundreds of megabits of dedicated capacity to each customer any time soon and won’t be for a long time.

    • Data Analysis

      “An update to the PlayStation 3 system software was released on 1st November 2016. If you update your PS3 system, the system software version will be 4.81…”

      1 I didn’t say the PS3 in my example.
      2 I didn’t say SYSTEM updates

      Now go find out how large some Game updates are…. Here is some examples to get you going…
      https://www.reddit.com/r/PS4/comments/3f9w1b/what_is_up_with_the_huge_game_updates_of_several/
      http://attackofthefanboy.com/news/wwe-2k17-1-01-update-patch-ps4-xbox-one-large/

      Welcome to the next gen of games consoles which little billy gets for xmas.

    • Data Analysis

      Correction and apology i did wrongly say SYSTEM update. Point made remains though about content size on specified device.

  9. MikeW

    It is incredibly difficult to find out how much viewing is done at SD, HD or UHD levels. I haven’t found a way directly.

    Ofcom’s CMR 2016 tells us that 74% of homes have HD-ready TVs, and 59% of homes have HD services. Neither changing that much now.
    https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/cmr/cmr16

    The BARB has some good data about trends in TV, but the picture resolution isn’t one of them. For example:
    http://www.barb.co.uk/tv-landscape-reports/tracker-device-access/

    TV Licensing have their Telescope reports every now and again.
    http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/about/media-centre/news/telescope-2012-report-reveals-nations-love-for-tv-NEWS50

    There’s also an interesting new source of statistics being pulled together: The “Digital Day”, which attempts to figure out just how we are spending time.
    http://www.digitaldayresearch.co.uk/

    One piece of indirect information comes from the latter, showing 16+ behaviour. There, the average viewing time is broken down into
    – 73% Live TV
    – 17% Recordings of Live TV
    – 6% Free on-demand TV/Film content (eg iPlayer, 4OD etc)
    – 6% Paid on-demand TV/Film content (downloaded or streamed)
    – 4% physical media (DVD or BluRay)
    – 3% short video clips (Youtube etc)

    I guess streamed UHD content is going to come pretty much exclusively from the 6% of “paid on-demand” content.

    Most of the remaining content will top-out at HD-form; the top streaming service is iPlayer, where HD is 5Mbps, but it will drop to a 3Mbps stream if buffering happens.

    If most of our viewing depends on what is broadcast, then the best gauge for our short-medium-term consumption is what the broadcast media will provide. But those seem to change less regularly than our broadband infrastructure nowadays.

    As for streaming in parallel…
    ONS has the household composition in the UK
    – 7 million single person
    – 8 million two-person
    – 3.5 million three-person
    – 3 million four-person
    – 1.5 million 5+

    The “modern house”, with two teenagers and many parallel streams, doesn’t look to be the average use-case. It looks to be one of the most-demanding 10%.

    • MikeW

      That doesn’t add up right… The “digital day” proportion of Live TV should be 63%, not 73%.

    • Data Analysis

      “– 6% Free on-demand TV/Film content (eg iPlayer, 4OD etc)”

      I can only assume the data they used is hopelessly out of date since the arrival of Smart TVs and most recently Freeview Play which in itself without even watching a darn thing on it downloads the prior 7 days EPG over your internet connection.

      6% stuck at the computer watching content i could believe but its not that anymore. (What do you think people are watching on the millions of fire sticks, Rokus and Nowtvs which have been sold). That 6% figure is so unbelievable especially given this…
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/amazon/11537336/Fire-TV-Stick-becomes-Amazons-fastest-selling-UK-device-ever.html

      You could disagree with that but that data is wrong either way as you pointed out with a quick tally of the figures.

      Catch up content is now normal in many (id say most) homes.

    • MikeW

      A few responses…

      “I can only assume…”

      I can’t vouch for their data, and haven’t worked out how best to interpret it all yet (I only found it yesterday). You’re better off checking it out for yourself.

      I don’t think it is particularly out of date, though.

      “that data is wrong … with a quick tally of the figures”

      Their data tallies correctly. The mistake was in my typing into the comment box here.

      Ofcom did make a graph of this data, and highlighted the age-range differences:
      https://s21.postimg.org/41vdcd1af/Ofcom2016_CMR_Watching_Habits.png

      “Catch up content is now normal in many (id say most) homes.”

      Many … true. Most … maybe not quite so true. “Normal” might not be the same as “high” – it could turn out to be regular, but low-volume.

      It *is* true that most adults have accessed some form of video-on-demand content. That’s running at just under 60% of adults. But there seems to be a bit of a split between “free catchup content” and “paid on-demand content”.

      I tend to think that if anyone is going to access catchup TV of any kind, they’ll have used iPlayer. No surprise that BBC iPlayer is the most common individual VoD service, but it is a surprise that it finds use in only 32% of adults. All4 and ITV both seem to be in the region of 15% of adults. None are currently growing much at all.

      Of the paid content, Netflix reaches 16% and Amazon 10%. Sky reach 16% too, but I assume they supply a mix of catchup and paid content in that.

      They are all bound to overlap some, so it is impossible to differentiate fully.
      https://s13.postimg.org/727481yt3/Ofcom2016_CMR_Vo_D_Sources.png

      “What do you think people are watching on the millions of fire sticks, Rokus and Nowtvs which have been sold”

      That’s a very good question. Maybe the answer is “Something, but not a lot.”

      I can offer our own household as an example…

      a) We have a large-ish, smart, UHD flat-screen. HD would have been fine, but I accidentally wrecked the panel of our TV 6 months ago, and this was the obvious replacement at the time. I can watch UHD content, but I don’t seek it out in any special way. Note carefully: We bought a UHD panel because it was financially expedient to do so. We have no particular interest in seeking out UHD content.

      It is smart, and offers access to online content, but we never watch content through any smart facility offered by the TV, because…

      b) We have had a number of Freeview PVRs, and currently use an HD one. We have an Amazon Fire TV box, and a Chromecast box. We occasionally activate a spell of content on NowTV, and watch via casting. We have yet to try Netflix.

      c) The *vast* majority of our adult and/or family viewing comes from Freeview. More than 50% of that viewing is via recorded programmes. We rarely watch anything via on-demand catchup, because the PVR almost always records what we want to see. It does get used in case of rare failures.

      The teenager uses more iPlayer for online catchup services than the adults.

      We do watch some content from Amazon and NowTV that is streamed, but it really isn’t that much.

      On the whole, I would say that the total amount of time of our viewing of paid on-demand content, and free catchup content, would be reasonably captured by those 6% figures each.

      So… we’re a home with lots of capability for HD, UHD, PVR, catchup, FireTV, NowTV, YouTube. We count in all those statistics, sure. We use them – to a greater or lesser extent. And our habits are slowly changing.

      Yet we’re still predominantly viewing broadcast TV … we just record rather more than the average.

      Are we a below-average use-case? With 40% of the country not even having an HD service of any kind, I don’t think so.

      When 80% of all viewing time is for live TV or recordings of broadcast TV, I think its easy to over-estimate how much some of the online services are getting used.

    • Data Analysis

      Im surprised you or anybody records anything anymore given things like iplayer, 4OD, etc and also given all the +1, +24 etc etc channels on freeview, the same episode of something is on at least 3 times a week.

      If people are not using those types of services which are available on most equipment now maybe they do not have the broadband speed to use them and the other freeview channels that repeat content they just can not be bothered with all the time and day changes constantly being made to programming.

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