Broadband: Jumping the Gun?

By: Liam G

According to the industry leading telecommunications operator, BT and the UKs independent regulator, Ofcom pressures to roll out what would prove a highly expensive fibre optic network throughout the UK could be premature.

The network in question would use "fibre to the home", providing broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps. The main downside of which, would be the implementation cost, which is estimated at anything up to ?15bn.

Peter Philips, Ofcom's head of strategy has expressed concern to whether evidence for such a fast network, is required within the UK.

Uncertainty over whether or not consumers will be willing to pay the extra costs for faster broadband has also been expressed.

Such "fibre to the home" networks are commonplace within Japan and South Korea, who are the world leaders in broadband speeds. Similar roll outs are starting in the US, France and Germany.

The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) started the debate on whether or not the UK needed such a fast network back in spring of this year.

"There is lots of competition and innovation in the broadband market and [it is not clear that] current bandwidth is a problem. We don't need to make any rash moves but the time is ripe for some collective thinking," According to BSG's chief executive Antony Walker.

BT's current plan, aims to implement the successor to ADSL, dubbed ADSL+2 within all of its exchanges by 2011. This roll out will begin early 2008, and will make available broadband speeds of up to 24Mbps.

The only commitment BT has made with regards to "fibre to the home" is that it will implement such broadband technologies in new housing estates.

Although 24Mbps is a far cry from the 100Mbps consumers within certain areas of the world enjoy, the impression from both Ofcom and BT is that it will be some time before such broadband networks are required, and subsequently the standard throughout the UK.

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