Ambition deficit threatens UK broadband goals

By Sooraj Shah
23 May 2012 View Comments
Fibre optic broadband

The UK is behind Europe in its implementation of fibre broadband connections because the government and industry “don’t know the need for it” and targets are not set high enough. That’s the view of Karin Ahl, president of the Fibre To The Home (FTTH) Council Europe, a non-profit organisation that aims to speed up deployment of all fibre access networks.

Further reading

There are currently two principal types of fibre network, the first is fibre to the cabinet (FTTC), which often relies on very high bit rate digital subscriber lines (VDSL) to connect to premises. The second, FTTH, is fibre that is connected directly from the exchange and offers higher speeds.
The UK currently has FTTH available in some areas, but the government and operators are concentrating on delivering FTTC, something that Ahl believes is far from future-proof.

“VDSL or FTTC is just a way of putting existing copper networks into use, but they are on their last legs. They work today, but are not for the future as people are starting to increase their use of capacity,” she said.

“There was not a lot of incentive to deploy fibre in the UK; a few years ago, the objective was 2Mbit/s, but at the same time in Korea they were offering 2Gbit/s of speed,” she said.

Ahl was referring to government body Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK)’s four primary goals, of which one was to ensure delivery of a minimum 2Mbit/s down­stream speed across the whole of the UK.

Another of the BDUK’s primary goals, specified in 2010 by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, was that by 2015 “[the government] wants Britain to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe”.

That is an aim that BT’s managing director for next-generation access, Mike Galvin, thinks is still possible.

“BT will have finished its commercial rollout covering two-thirds of the UK by December 2014 and I certainly think that [the UK] will be in a good place,” he said.

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