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The internet just got faster... (or less slow at least)

But should we really care?
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

But should we really care?

Oftel has raised the threshold for internet access speeds, claiming a victory for consumers - but will anybody really benefit? At a time when pressure is building on telecoms operators, regulators and the government over the growing broadband divide, Oftel has raised the minimum internet access speed that BT must provide to its customers to 28.8Kbps - just one twentieth of the speed of a basic broadband connection. Previously, the telco was forced only to provide web access at a glacial 2.4Kbps. Oftel says the move is good news for some consumers, but in truth it's unlikely to even register on the interest scale with most - especially not those consumers frustrated by the lack of broadband services in their area. At 28.8Kbps, the new obligation is only around half the speed of most narrowband modems, which typically have a theoretical maximum speed of 56Kbps but deliver closer to 40Kbps. The regulator announced on Wednesday that it is extending the universal service obligations that BT, and Hull's Kingston Communication, must abide by. As well as making sure all customers can get internet access of at least 28.8Kbps, the telcos must also continue to provide reduced-rate packages for customers on low incomes and make public phone boxes available. David Edmonds, Oftel's director general, said in a statement: "Because of the growing importance of the internet, Oftel has taken a major step forward in setting a benchmark connection speed of 28.8 Kbps." "This is significantly faster than the previous requirement of only 2.4 Kbps and will lead to real improvements in connection speeds for many consumers," Edmonds added. The new universal service obligations will come into effect on 25 July. Graeme Wearden writes for ZDNet UK
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