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Research Reveals Poor State of UK Broadband Quality

Posted: 12th Sep, 2008 By: MarkJ
New Cisco Systems funded research from the University of Oxford's Said Business School has revealed that broadband speeds in the UK, Spain, Australia and Italy are lower than what many modern web applications (e.g. online video, file sharing etc.) would require for a good online experience. The study did not factor in other crucial elements, such as customer support quality, broadband penetration, costs and usage levels.

By contrast Japan topped the world with its broadband performance, while Sweden and the Netherlands dominated Europe's strongest results. To reach these conclusions the study reportedly took a total of 8 million "measurements’" using somewhat anecdotal results from Speedtest.net. The score was produced by combining download speed, upload speed and latency (server response time) performance:

"Average download speeds are adequate for web browsing, email and basic video downloading and streaming, but we are seeing more interactive applications, more user-generated content being uploaded and shared, and an increasing amount of high-quality video services becoming available," said Alastair Nicholson, a member of the research team from the University of Oxford’s Said Business School, to the Telegraph.

"Moreover, because the study also found significant correlation between a nation’s broadband quality and its advancement as a knowledge economy, policy makers may need to consider how to create an environment to improve key broadband performance parameters in the future."

The results come hot on the heels of a new report from the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) earlier this week, which predicted that it could cost between £5.1bn and £28.8bn to bring next generation broadband services to the whole country (news). Francesco Caio, the former CEO of Cable & Wireless, is also expected to publish his government review into Britain's broadband infrastructure during this autumn.

Top 10 Countries for Broadband Quality:
1. Japan
2. Sweden
3. Netherlands
4. Latvia
5. Korea
6. Switzerland
7. Lithuania
8. Denmark
9. Germany
10. Slovenia

Speedtest.net's Separate Top 10 Countries for Broadband Download Speed:
1. Japan - 16,146Kbps (16Mbps)
2. Sweden - 9,320Kbps
3. Romania - 8,675Kbps
4. Latvia - 8,170Kbps
5. Republic of Korea - 7,749Kbps
6. Bulgaria - 7,739Kbps
7. Lithuania - 7,042Kbps
8. Netherlands - 6,736Kbps
9. Germany - 6,568Kbps
10. Russia - 6,561Kbps

What’s less clear is precisely which methodology the study used to determine whether a given average result would or would not be adequate enough to run such services, since there is no industry standard. Never the less, the UK often falls further down the charts when it comes to overall average speeds versus the rest of the world.

Hopefully BT’s recent £1.5bn commitment to bring up to 100Mbps fibre optic broadband services to approximately 10 million homes by 2012, combined with Virgin Media’s 50 to 100Mbps drive, will go some way to restoring the country’s status. Mind you, that’s provided customers can actually receive a good speed from their ISP, regardless of the infrastructure in place.
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