Fat pipes fail Broadband Britain

Internet users are becoming disillusioned by the tide of spam and viruses, and want better support rather than faster speed, says new research

Broadband Britain is in danger of stalling as people become disillusioned with a growing tide of spam, viruses, spyware and a lack of ongoing support from service providers, according to a new report by the Work Foundation.

The year-long study, called Fat Pipes, Connected People, was conducted in partnership with the Broadband Stakeholders Group and watched how eight families, two home workers and two businesses used broadband.

James Crabtree, co-author of the report, told silicon.com that the telecoms industry is failing users because of a focus on speed rather than ongoing support on how to get the best out of broadband.

"Broadband is meant to be the Internet at its best but the industry sees selling broadband as the beginning and end. It is difficult to install. More support is clearly needed," he said.

Spam was the main concern of those in the study. Crabtree acknowledged that it is a problem for all internet users but said broadband users are particularly exposed to it as they tend to use the Internet more. And because spam has got significantly worse in the last six months, many new broadband users blame their fat pipes for the increased volumes of junk email.

The study also showed that people are not just interested in being pushed rich media content to consume but instead want to use broadband to create and share their own.

"People want to know how to create things and how to use digital media, rather than sitting there like digital couch potatoes sucking up rich media content. People just aren't interested in that," he said.

However, he added that many people do see the increased opportunity to download "free" music as something of a return on investment on the cost of broadband subscriptions.

Crabtree warned that not only are existing users getting disillusioned, but beyond the early broadband adopters, the service providers will need much more compelling offerings to convince people to sign up.

"We are getting close to the point where the service providers are not going to be able to get people to sign up to broadband just because it is broadband. It requires a different way of selling. It is not just about speed," he said.