A committee of MPs has called for the UK Government and BT to up their game and increase the basic broadband speeds available to all.
The current BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) projects are supposed to make sure that everyone can access download speeds of at least 2Mbps at all times by the end of 2016.
The Defra (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Committee, chaired by Conservative MP Anne McIntosh, argues that the government should consider moving this minimum target up to 10Mbps or higher.
By 2017, 95 per cent of premises should be able to access a superfast service, providing download speeds of at least 24Mbps, but according to the committee, BT’s director for strategy, policy and portfolio, Sean Williams said: “it is there or thereabouts. It may end up being in 2018.”
Chris Townsend, chief executive officer of BDUK has said that 100 per cent of UK premises will be able to order superfast broadband by 2020. This happens to be the same date by which the EU (which jointly funds BDUK) wants everyone in Europe to be able to get at least 30Mbps.
The committee is concerned that within three years of the expected completion date, speeds of at least 24Mbps won’t be enough – unless between 2016 and 2020 everyone gets a 6Mbps boost.
While the top speeds possible on BT’s FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) connections are 80Mbps, that’s a theoretical maximum. As with ADSL broadband the actual speeds you’ll get will depend on your location – hence why many ISPs advertise their top FTTC speeds as delivering 76Mbps, so as not to fall afoul of the CAP.
By the end of 2016, BT could have begun to roll out G.fast and FTTrN (Fibre to the Remote Node)-based solutions which should greatly increase the top download speeds possible.
Customers living in remote, typically rural areas still face the possibility of having to make do with reduced speeds, due to the technical limitations of copper last miles. BT’s upcoming G.fast trials will examine how speeds differ in built-up urban area and a remote market town.
In the meantime, customers in the sticks with deep pockets and limited patience for government schemes can petition ISPs like Gigaclear and CityFibre to come to their area. If that’s not viable other options like satellite broadband can be an immediate (if expensive) way to tide yourself over until faster fixed-line services are made available.