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Survey - 2Mbps Too Slow for a Universal Minimum Broadband Speed

Posted: 17th Apr, 2009 By: MarkJ
The latest Moneysupermarket survey of 2,165 British adults conducted in March, which was carried out by Opinium Research, has revealed that 55% of the population (26 million people) believe 2Mbps will be too slow for a national minimum broadband speed. A further 22% felt that universal broadband would leave some consumers with a limited choice in packages.

The promise of a 2Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO) was initially proposed as part of Lord Carter's Digital Britain review, though 36% expect the government’s plans to fail. Indeed 41% are now worried that the Digital Divide may never be bridged. Testing conducted by Ofcom recently revealed that the average UK broadband speed was roughly 3.6Mbps.

James Parker, manager of broadband at moneysupermarket.com, said: "The majority of homes with internet have access to fast services. Ofcom and moneysupermarket.com have both conducted tests that show UK average speeds are above 3Mb. Despite this, the Digital Britain report seems to think 2Mb is a good enough minimum, even though this report shows a significant majority already find 2Mb too slow for many services such as iPlayer."

# 91% say 2Mb is not enough for downloading video content
# 89% say it is not enough for watching streamed video such as iPlayer
# 83% say it is not enough for online gaming
# 82% say it is not enough for VoIP telephone use
# 80% say it is not enough for downloading music
# 43% say it is not enough for Internet surfing
# 41% say it is not enough for online shopping/banking
It's worth pointing out that a stable 2Mbps connection should be absolutely fine for online gaming (stable upstream is more important – doesn’t have to be super-fast), VoIP, downloading music, Internet surfing and online shopping/banking. Naturally both VoIP and music downloads can be improved by a faster connection, yet the rest are not reliant on a high bandwidth link to work properly.

But finding technologies that are capable of delivering a stable 2Mbps with flexibility that matches land-line alternatives is going to prove difficult. We've already highlighted the shortcomings of one favourite (here), Mobile Broadband . The problems with another, Satellite, are not dissimilar. Improvements to existing land-lines may help some but there is no single golden solution to a 2Mbps USO.

Meanwhile BT's Chief Executive, Ian Livingstone, has today told the Digital Britain summit conference that "most people are happy" with current generation broadband services and probably won't NEED their new up to 100Mbps Fibre Optic (FTTC/FTTP/FTTH) broadband services. Good way to sell a new product that, you'd almost think they didn't want to deploy it.

For those that have been living in a cave this past year - BT is currently preparing a £1.5 billion programme to roll out fibre-based, super-fast broadband to as many as 10 million homes by 2012. The operator recently revealed a list of the first 29 exchanges to be upgraded with FTTC (up to 40/60Mbps) services from early 2010 (original news).

Still, 76% of people see Internet access as an essential tool to modern life and if the results above are anything to go by then BT looks to be growing increasingly out of step with consumer demands. In an ideal world the USO could be made a lot faster and our government might invest in a truly national Fibre to the Home (100Mbps FTTH) infrastructure, but that won't happen.
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