Saturday, 3 March 2012

When will 100Mb broadband reach you?

100 and 120Mb broadband promises to be the UK's fastest widely available connection in the near future.

But when will it reach you? And is it worthwhile?

According to Virgin Media, users of 100Mb broadband service will be able to download:

A 150MB music album in 5 secondsA 1GB movie in 1.5 minutesA 5GB HD movie in 7-8 minutes

It's generally agreed, however, that the biggest benefit of a faster connection is not the seconds it shaves off downloading times but the space it makes available when two or more members of a household are carrying out heavy use activities simultaneously.

In other words, it'll stop Dad's HBO drama buffering downstairs because some numpty upstairs is downloading the latest episode of Alan Carr's Chatty Man.

Just as with Virgin Media's 50Mb service at the initial launch both Virgin and BT's 100Mb services also benefit from being truly unlimited: no fair use limits and no traffic management.

Independent Ofcom speed research hasn't yet fully investigated how fast a 100Mb service is in practice but, given that the Virgin Media's 'up to' 50Mb service achieved a day average of 45.6Mb (92% of the advertised speed) and BT's 'up to' 40Mb generally manages a 35Mb average, prospects look good.

Virgin Media hope to push out their 100Mb broadband service to their entire cable network, about 13 million homes, by mid-2012.

Starting from January 2012, 50Mb customers will be boosted to 100Mb automatically while existing 100Mb will be moved to a 120Mb deal.

You can check when your area will be upgraded here.

The move is remarkable considering that, in January 2011, just 350,000 homes could receive 100Mb and in March 2011 that rose to about a million households or 7.69% of the ISP's potential customer base.

"When we finish the roll-out of 100Mb across our network, half the country will have access to ultrafast broadband. That'll be six years ahead of EU targets," Jon James, the provider's executive director of broadband has said.

However, that's not much use to those who aren't in a Virgin Media cable area already since the ISP is less to keen to expand its network than it is to upgrade it.

But as of November 2011, BT's fibre network wasn't doing a great job at plugging the gaps.

Their 100Mb deals are available in certain areas served by just four exchanges: Bradwell Abbey, Highams Park, Chester South and York.

In these areas BT Openreach have upgraded parts of their up to 40Mb fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network, extending the fibre cable so that it also runs between the green street-side cabinets and households.

With FTTH this 'last mile' is run using an ordinary copper phone cable so, for BT, the upgrades are a long and fiddly job.

You can double check availability with the postcode checker for BT 100Mb.

How much?

When Virgin Media complete their 'double speed' upgrade they'll easily be the cheapest 100Mb provider.

Up to 50Mb broadband is currently £25.50.

BT Infinity 100Mb broadband deals start at £35 a month.

Note, however, that BT Openreach re-sell their service which has led to some price differentiation among ISPs ostensibly providing the BT service.

For example, although Zen are using the same network as BT to deliver 100Mb, they're charging more than twice as much.

Fibre Enterprise package costs £84 a month while Fibre Enterprise+ is a shocking £114.

On the other hand, Plusnet up to 40Mb fibre has always been slightly cheaper than BT, a trend which seems likely to continue with 100Mb.

Do people want 100Mb?

In March 2011 respected broadband analysts Point Topic poured some cold water on the UK's fibre development: not only are providers being slow to roll out services, they said, the roll-out was being slowed significantly by lack of enthusiasm on the part of consumers.

"Consumers are hardly breaking the doors down," said Tim Johnson, the company's chief analyst.

"The public is a bit 'once bitten, twice shy' about switching ISPs if they have had trouble in the past. People are in no hurry to move."

Unsurprisingly, though, ISPs remain upbeat.

"We think fibre's the future," said Zen's head of product management, Andrew Saunders at the launch of their 100Mb service.

"We're not sure if it's going to be in three years' time or five years' time when the tipping point will come but it's the future."

It can be hard to quantify the popularity of 100Mb services.

For example, Virgin haven't released an exact figure on the number of people who actually have a 100Mb connection, however, although it did say that just over 10,000 (1% of that million) registered for the 100Mb service on the first day it was released.

In 2008, BT predicted that by the time London kicked off its opening ceremonies in 2012 broadband users would be getting 40 - 60Mb speeds.

Virgin Media promised it'd would bring out 200Mb by the same time: Chief Executive Neil Berkett said in The Guardian that by the time the Olympics rolled into town, Virgin Media "will have the technical capability of delivering speeds 40 times faster than today's current average broadband speed.

We're getting pretty close to that deadline now and 40Mb for all (or even for the majority) looks distinctly unlikely; 200Mb even more so.

Please read the following notice:

This guide may not include all of the products available in the market.

While we make every effort to ensure and maintain current and accurate information on this site, we do not keep all guides updated and this guide may contain prices, deals or facts which have now changed.

Readers are always advised to check the full details of any product with the relevant provider before applying, as well as to conduct their own research.

We aim to provide free reviews and comparisons of consumer products. To keep the site free, we are paid by some providers when new customers take products after they've clicked on our links. We don't allow our editorial content to be affected by those links, however we may not include all of the products available in the market.

Please read our full disclaimer for other important information that relates to the information and service we provide and your use of this site.

If you would like to get in touch with us you can contact us here »

No comments:

Post a Comment