Five small towns in North Somerset have been connected to newly laid, full fibre-optic networks, giving residents up to five times faster broadband speeds compared with existing copper networks.
This is thanks to investment following the growing demand from businesses and consumers for high-speed internet service.
With £500m worth of equity and investment in small alternative networks, the pressure on Openreach is on. Already facing calls to invest more money in fibre, politicians and consumers are unconvinced by its plan to speed up existing copper networks to meet the growing demand for bandwidth.
Openreach recently launched a consultation to garner support for a greater investment in fibre networks. The company could reach 10m homes and businesses by 2025 if Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone support its plans.
BT also made an offer to government to roll out broadband to the remaining 1.4m homes in the UK who are still without it. These are mostly in locations where it is considered uneconomical for broadband providers to extend their services, such as parts of rural Wales, Cornwall, Yorkshire and Scotland.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, said “It is absolutely crucial for a rural areas to have good high speed connections. There are so many small businesses in my constituency working from their homes that need those high speed transfer speeds.”
He also said it was important that local companies stood up to BT to prove the world does not have to wait for them.
With Britain ranking 31st in the world in terms of broadband speed, clearly this investment needs to continue.
Open internet measurement firm, M-Lab, along with a consortium of partners, including New America’s Open Technology Institute, Google Open Source Research and Princeton University’s Planet Lab recently put together a report examining global data from 63m speed tests over the course of a year.
The report shows the average broadband download speed across the UK is 16.5Mbps, which means it takes around an hour to download a lengthy Hollywood film or an entire TV box set. This compares to Singapore (top of the global league table), where it takes an average of 18 minutes to download a 7.5GB film.
The UK lags behind 19 European countries, 17 of them in the European Union.
Ofcom’s aim is for all UK households to have a minimum of 10Mbps broadband, a speed deemed necessary to cope with a typical family’s internet needs, such as streaming Netflix, downloading a film on Sky and browsing the internet.
Ofcom says the average UK broadband download speed theoretically achievable – although not necessarily the speeds experienced by home internet users – reached 36Mbps in November last year.
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