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The Year in Review - 2007
By: MarkJ - 31 December, 2007 (9:40 AM)

New Years Eve is finally upon us, brining to a close one of the most eventful years in recent memory. It was the year where BT launched early trials of Ďup toí 24Mbps ADSL2+ technology through its 21CN network and the debate over next-generation broadband services finally began.

Likewise many of the industries most prominent providers began to make increasingly aggressive use of traffic management and shaping technologies, often failing to inform their customers about precisely how this would affect them. This in turn went on to fuel a later clash with the BBC over its free P2P based Internet TV (IPTV) iPlayer service, stirring up a debate over competition, restrictions and whether content providers should also contribute to an ISPís costs.

Meanwhile the industry regulator, Ofcom, finally caved in to wider consumer pressure and began an investigation into how broadband speeds are advertised in the hopes of fostering a fairer and more accurate system. The regulator also turned its focus to investigate stealth and penalty charges, which ISPís sometimes apply without clearly informing customers.

Finally there were also signs of a looming slowdown as the number of new broadband subscribers appeared to decrease, in part due to the dwindling quantity of dialup users that have so strongly fuelled growth over recent years (migration). Meanwhile a significant portion of the UK continues to see little need for broadband and, in some cases, the Internet. This is likely to become a fierce battle ground in the future as ISPís seek new ways to attract a difficult crowd.

Unsurprisingly 2008 is shaping up to be just as eventful with many of the processes that began above coming to a conclusion. Consumers are hopefully going to benefit most from the clearer advertising of broadband speeds and charges, which will be especially important as BT introduces its newer and faster ADSL2+ technologies.

We suspect that some ISPís will also have a hard time adapting to ADSL2+ís more aggressive demands on their bandwidth, potentially to an even greater degree than MAX (up to 8Mbps) technology did. Whether this will result in widespread problems remains to be seen, although BT and ISPís will be keen to avoid a repeat of MAXís launch.

In addition the government and music/film industries are gearing up for a showdown with ISPís over online piracy (illegal file sharing of commercial copyright material). Tougher rules and regulation are expected, though we do not believe they will be as aggressive as those that were recently introduced into France, where ISPís can suspend related users from access to the Internet.

Last but by no means least we return to the ever present debate over next generation broadband services. Hopes are high that the industry can find a definite and clear way forward before the year is out, although we have our doubts. Naturally the biggest barrier to progress remains the cost and precisely who is willing to help foot the bill, with government typically shying away.

Still, whatever 2008 brings we hope that youíll all have a good evening and take it easy. ISPreview will be back in full swing from Wednesday, coupled to a brand new web design (launched just prior to Christmas) and some big plans for the future. See you all in 2008!

Happy New Year 2008

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