In its 2012 Infrastructure Report, Ofcom says that the minimum 2Mbps speed for all mandated by the UK Government isn’t fast enough.
Ofcom’s report finds that “the amount of data downloaded and uploaded by consumers increases steadily as broadband speeds rise,” peaking at 8Mbps, unless punters are on superfast BT Infinity and Virgin Media fibre broadband lines.
Customers with a broadband speeds of just a few Mbps will be “deterred from using data hungry services such as high definition internet TV or large file downloads,” says Ofcom, adding that “the data we have published here suggests that it may be appropriate to consider increasing the USC [Universal Service Commitment] target in due course.”
So-called superfast broadband – defined as speeds of anything higher than 25Mbps – is now available to 65 per cent of UK homes and businesses in the UK, though with just 7 per cent of those making use of higher speeds right now.
As projects like Superfast Cornwall continue and Council contracts start connecting homes to faster speeds, superfast broadband will become more ubiquitous and therefore it’s likely that Ofcom may recommend 25Mbps as the new minimum standard.
This would be close to (but under) the 30Mbps minimum speeds recommended by the EU’s Digital Agenda plan too.
The problem with looking at the current availability of superfast broadband is that there will be come customers in hard-to-reach areas who might not be able to get 25Mbps through conventional means.
FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) based solutions as we’ve seen suffer from the same distance discrepancy as ADSL broadband does, so it won’t help if you’re living several kilometers away from your nearest cab.
BT cabinet placement is subject to a number of factors, proximity, power and public safety being chief among these. So you’re not always going to be able to get the best results this way.
Until FTTP On Demand rolls out or advances in satellite broadband can push the top speeds above the current 18-20Mbps margin, it’s not going to be very helpful to those right out in the sticks who are going to be served at least 2Mbps in places like Cornwall.
Image credit: Flickr user Nathan E Photography