UK broadband 'too slow' for next-gen online services

Britain lags 17 other countries in broadband speed, report finds...

Britain lags 17 other countries in broadband speed, report finds...

Broadband in the UK is not fast enough to deliver future services such as high-definition IPTV and video conferencing, according to a report.

The study by Oxford University's Saïd Business School and the University of Oviedo found that the average download speed in the UK was 6.4Mbps, insufficient for the high-bandwidth online services that will become commonplace in coming years.

"Broadband infrastructure in the UK is adequate for applications used now, but we need to look to... the applications of the future. This is where we need to improve," said Tony Hart, associate fellow at Saïd Business School and co-author of the report The Broadband Quality Study 2010.

Online applications such as high-definition video conferencing will also require large amounts of data to be sent over the internet, which will mean the average UK upload speed of 586kbps will need to be increased, Hart said.

government datacentres

UK broadband speeds are not adequate to deliver next-gen internet services, a report has found
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The report ranked the UK 18th out of 72 countries worldwide for the quality of its broadband, based on an analysis of the average broadband connection's download and upload speed, and latency. The UK's average download speed lagged far behind the 33.5Mbps average in South Korea, which was ranked number one in the list.

Hart said the rate at which the speed of the average broadband connection in the UK was increasing was being hampered by the need to replace the UK's telecoms infrastructure.

Improvements to the UK's fibre-optic network being undertaken by BT are set to bring 40Mbps broadband to 66 per cent of the UK households by 2015.

Most of the networks being built by BT will deliver fibre connections to telecoms cabinets (FTTC), which can provide broadband speeds of 40Mbps, rather than fibre to individual homes (FTTH), which can provide broadband speeds of 100Mbps.

Ian Fogg, principal analyst with Forrester Research, said BT was limiting the speed of Britain's future broadband network by focusing on building FTTC.

"The UK is going for FTTC, which is a modest improvement in comparison with an FTTH service. In that way we might not be so future-proof," he said.

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