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UK trails in broadband speed study

UK trails in broadband speed study

The figures released by the OECD put the UK an embarrassing 21st in terms of Internet connection speed.

A study on worldwide Internet connection speeds has placed the UK near the bottom, owing to a lack of government investment in fibre-based broadband.

As reported over on the BBC, the figures released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development put the UK 21st in the table of 30 countries ranked by average consumer Internet access speeds.

For a country which prides itself on its forward-thinking and technological innovation, it's an embarrassing showing: doubly so when you see the top ten, which includes Japan's impressive 1Gb/s, Finland's 110Mb/s, and the 100Mb/s offered by Finland, Sweden, Korea, Iceland, France, and Denmark. The UK is even pipped to the post by the the Netherland's 60Mb/s, and the 50Mb/s available to residents of the United States and Spain.

The recommendation of the OECD is that government investment in broadband technologies is sorely required - with benefits being felt in electricity, health, education, and transportation sectors should funds be allocated to broadband development. Indeed, the OECD's Taylor Reynolds believes that "if you cut 1 percent off the costs of education, electricity, health and transportation you would more than pay for a fibre network" and each sector would gain far more than it would lose.

With other countries - including top-ten list member Finland - making moves to ensure all its citizens have access to high-speed broadband, the UK government will have to do something to improve matters. With the UK 21st out of 30 in terms of raw speed - and a not much better 13th out of 30 in terms of overall penetration - the government's 50p per month 'broadband tax' on fixed telephone lines appears much less a ridiculous notion and more a necessity.

Do you hope that the government will listen to the OECD and plough money into the UK's telecoms infrastructure in order to boost broadband speeds, or are our current connections fast enough? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

39 Comments

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Whalemeister 14th December 2009, 10:46 Quote
Hardly surprising but a little disappointing for a developed country like the UK
Bursar 14th December 2009, 10:48 Quote
Quote:
the OECD's Taylor Reynolds believes that "if you cut 1 percent off the costs of education, electricity, health and transportation you would more than pay for a fibre network"

Which party is going to stand up and say "Le'ts cut spending on these things, to fund a high speed network across the country".? Not one that wants to get elected, that's for sure!
Aracos 14th December 2009, 10:49 Quote
I can't say I really care anymore, I'm very happy with my 800KB/s~ download speed I just wish I could get more upload without paying through the nose, Virgin may offer 50MB/s but the upload speed is still a pile of crap *sigh*
Jamie 14th December 2009, 11:12 Quote
I just wish I could get an internet connection faster enough to stream video. I'm lucky to get 1Mbit at the moment.
crazyceo 14th December 2009, 11:12 Quote
Not wanting to get political as this topic isn't about the politics but BT have been left for decades to let their network to slowly rot away infront of our eyes. Now we have a genuine need for an upgrade of the system and they come cap in hand while they have been reporting huge profits for years. They either foot the bill themselves or give Virgin the permission to expand their fibre network.
l3v1ck 14th December 2009, 11:20 Quote
I can see how businesses need high speed internet and how the current state of infrastructure may well be holding them back, but from a personal point of view pure speed doesn't interest me. What I want is a good connection ratio so the internet doesn't slow down in the evening when everybody's online.
Paradigm Shifter 14th December 2009, 11:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bursar
Which party is going to stand up and say "Le'ts cut spending on these things, to fund a high speed network across the country".? Not one that wants to get elected, that's for sure!

It's all in how you approach these things... if it can be sold as 'investment for health/education/transport/communication/add-other-stuff-you-think-of-here' then it could be a winner.

If you marketed it as 'wasting money for high-speed internet for gamers and global e-peen' then of course voters aren't going to go for it.

Then again, most voters will vote for whichever party says they'll cut taxes the most... whether or not they actually do, after they've got in. And most voters seem to be blissfully ignorant of the wonderful collection of 'stealth' taxes that sneak in everywhere: you pay tax on tax, in several situations; VAT is paid on Fuel Duty Tax for petrol, for example.

...

One thing is certain; without the Govt. spending money on it, the ISPs sure won't. They already complain they aren't making enough money and that their networks are over-stressed. With how much money BT and others make, investing some of it back into the network is a very good idea... to everyone but the shareholders. Which is why they don't do it, as they want their shareholders happy.
Phil Rhodes 14th December 2009, 11:22 Quote
Ad for the service I use: "Up to 24Mbit/s!". Actual service I use, according to the very router via which I currently communicate: Data Rate Upstream: 3008 Downstream: 704 kbps

Yes folks - I'm promised 24 and I get 3. Somehow, this is not perceived as lying.

But it's OK - the government has implemented a broadband tax so that the taxpayer can fund a faster national network, which will then be given away free to profitmaking commercial entities so that they can make money out of it! Marvellous - I wish I'd thought of that!
NuTech 14th December 2009, 11:22 Quote
Am I imagining this or are headlines claiming "UK lagging behind in X,Y,Z" becoming increasingly common?

I know it's human nature to remember the bad and not the good, but I'd really like to hear the opinion of any bit-tech'er with knowledge of our social/economic/political landscape and why (imo) we're so slow with stuff like this.
Icy EyeG 14th December 2009, 11:25 Quote
I wonder if you notice the difference above 50 Mbps, I sure don't.

Moreover, most people I know have a wifi connection of 54 Mbps and those who have a "draf n" router for wifi (400 Mbps), it connects to the rest of the network via 100Mb Ethernet connection (which is a bottleneck).
This makes all these adds claiming speeds above or equal 100 Mbps here in Portugal misleading. And even if you spend some money converting your home network to gigabit+"draft n" wifi+cat6 cables (to avoid a bandwidth saturation/bottlenecks), don't forget that computers don't keep up (yet) - http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gigabit-ethernet-bandwidth,2321.html
If you use 100 Mbps home network don't forget that's the theoretical speed (I doubt such network is able to provide maximum speed at all times).
proxess 14th December 2009, 11:42 Quote
Strange. Portugal has 100mb too.
impar 14th December 2009, 11:51 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Originally Posted by proxess
Strange. Portugal has 100mb too.
In some areas. PT is now installing fiber optics cables through main portuguese cities.
According to MeoFibra site (PTs brand), my area has 100Mbps/10Mbps available. Just asked for the 20/2Mbps service, though.

Lets see how that goes...
SBS 14th December 2009, 12:04 Quote
When was the 50p broadband tax ever a 'ridiculous notion?'

A high speed network will doubtless come - wondrous businesses like http://www.h2onetworksdarkfibre.com/ are seeing to that - but it's not half as crucial as the think tanks that pump out these reports would like us to believe. Currently, the average consumers experience would only be improved by improved filesharing, smoother streaming of HD Video and better gaming speeds - hardly things to drive huge Government investment.

Until business needs a vastly improved network or someone comes up with a way to make revenue out of it there's no reason to upgrade a perfectly passable system when the national deficit is overwhelming finances.
leexgx 14th December 2009, 12:09 Quote
i am just lucky that i live in an Virgin cable area, i have got 50mb my self but there are issues with virgins bandwidth provider tele as in it does not give me any more then 5mb (500KB/s) and i get 70% packet loss on top of that(norm only lasts for 10 mins then it goes back to sull speed but internet is unusable in that time), getting to the point now i going to buy an patched 20mb virgin modem and copy my MAC address over to it so i can get 47mb BB all the time on the older dosci 1.1 network as they do not have speed issues with there bandwidth provider

(Most N routers are 150mb some do 300mb as well)

Wifi 54gb can only handle 24mb speeds (peak 30mb),

Wifi 150 or 300 N routers do on avg 50/80mb on good signal (some newer netgear and belkin N 300 routers can really do 150mb over wireless but they cost more then £100)

most computers nowadays have gigabit lan onboard and so do laptops but laptops norm lack N wireless (only windows 7 laptops i have seen with N yet), its norm the routers that do not have gigabit (like virgin provideing the WMR2000 router for 50mb but they going to have to replace them again when they start to offer 150MB as the WNR2000 only has 100mb ports, the WNR3500 has 1000 ports all of them, i think the D-link routers that VIrgin are useing now are 1000 based {the ones you have to pay for the cheaper one is 100mb based but has N 150})
Hustler 14th December 2009, 12:11 Quote
Average figures mean nothing....just headline grabbing nonsense...

Here i am, in the UK and i can choose from multiple companies upto a 50mb service, which will no doubt rise to 100mb when the competition demands it.

If people abroad who read this get the impression that all of us in the UK are stuck on 1mb lines in the slow lane, they are wrong.
proxess 14th December 2009, 12:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by impar
Greetings!

In some areas. PT is now installing fiber optics cables through main portuguese cities.
According to MeoFibra site (PTs brand), my area has 100Mbps/10Mbps available. Just asked for the 20/2Mbps service, though.

Lets see how that goes...

True, but if you put it that way, some parts of the country doesn't even have copper wires for phones.
B1GBUD 14th December 2009, 12:12 Quote
I ofter speak to users (via our Servicedesk) and when asked what service they are paying for they don't have a clue. They think because the have "broadband" they think it should be fast. It's a shame BT and others sell services which can't be much faster than 256Kbps and have the bare faced cheek to call it Broad!!

Still, I'm content with my 20Mb fibre
Muunsyr 14th December 2009, 12:22 Quote
I am on a 13Mbps (theoretically up to 24Mbps) down, 1Mbps up ADSL connection here is Australia. Which is still considered quite fast. I am envious. We do have a national broadband upgrade in the works - but that is still a little ways away.
Denis_iii 14th December 2009, 12:46 Quote
UK government will do something, it will cost a fortune, run years over schedule and then fall over not being completed :)
droitwichdosser 14th December 2009, 12:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
Ad for the service I use: "Up to 24Mbit/s!"

Yes folks - I'm promised 24 and I get 3. Somehow, this is not perceived as lying.

"Up to" is not the same thing as "you will definitely get"...

If your only getting that speed, then its worth looking elsewhere for a cheaper deal, as it seems 3 is the maximum your going to get
Ape 14th December 2009, 13:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SBS
When was the 50p broadband tax ever a 'ridiculous notion?'

Sad to say the Conservatives said the 50p TAX was a ridiculous idea and would abolish it.

The only decent thing Labour has done in the past year is introduce that 50p per month TAX on every telephone line in the UK to help pay for the roll out of faster broadband.

Knowledge is power. Getting knowledge and delivering knowledge fast is imperative. We should be up there as world leaders in technologies, not begging for extra MB/s in our broadband.
el_diablo_72 14th December 2009, 13:15 Quote
I have no problems with my O2 connection, I actively get 13.7 Mb down speed.

Many many years ago when Mrs Thatcher was in charge, BT asked to be allowed to put fibre optics to every house in the country free of charge.

The government of the time declared it would give them too much of a monopoly and refused them permission.

BT are now skint and cannot afford it. Good planning Government people!

(point of interest, did you know the NHS tried to start a national lottery but were banned by the same Gov as it would be a morally terrible thing to do.....)
DarkFear 14th December 2009, 14:01 Quote
You guys really shouldn't complain. I'm from South Africa. :( 'Nuff said...
cyrilthefish 14th December 2009, 14:12 Quote
Quote:
The recommendation of the OECD is that government investment in broadband technologies is sorely required - with benefits being felt in electricity, health, education, and transportation sectors should funds be allocated to broadband development. Indeed, the OECD's Taylor Reynolds believes that "if you cut x percent off the costs of invading other countries you would more than pay for a fibre network"
I improved it :D
Quote:
For a country which prides itself on its forward-thinking and technological innovation
Am i the only one that LOL'd on reading this part? Doesn't sound much like Britain at all.
Digi 14th December 2009, 14:26 Quote
In Denmark here (but I am English) and I am running on a stabil 20/2 broadband connex. The rest of the town has had fiber put in but as one of the above posters said I was unlucky in the post code lottery and they literally stopped at the end of my road!

This kind of infrastructure should just be mandatory. This is future proofing that needs to be done. The benefit will be felt by businesses and the smallest customer alike. You may say the small customers don't care, but if their service is never interrupted then it's done it's job anyway.
paisa666 14th December 2009, 14:29 Quote
where can i see the full list?

thnx :)
Xir 14th December 2009, 14:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by paisa666
where can i see the full list?
+1

Neither on this site nor on the BBC-link is the complete list...

Heh, If I sold a car which can run upto 120 Mph and then you notice it's stuck in first gear that would be considered not-quite-telling-the-truth thank you. :D
Icy EyeG 14th December 2009, 14:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by proxess
True, but if you put it that way, some parts of the country doesn't even have copper wires for phones.

[off topic rant]Well... that's the traditional way of Portugal implements things. :'( [/off topic rant]
Genestarwind 14th December 2009, 15:17 Quote
theres lots of two and fro-ing in this, I used to be on 50Bb cable, when i moved house I went into a non cable area and dropped down to 14Mb though i had to rewire the flat and get a better than stock router (up to 24mbps BeUnlimited) and have now moved again literally within a few miles of where i was and am now on standard adsl getting 7meg (8mb advertised but the theoretical maximum is 7098 or something) and im in an area that is supposed to have good coverage.

Going down the scale hasn't improved my internet experience, and also on the slower speed network i'm now on a capped service whereas the faster speeds were unlimited.

So I find my service is not up to my requirements, but in my area i'm already on the best i can get. I'm kind of the exception to the rule though. Most users in the uk don't notice any speed gains when you get over around 4Mb and the reason for crappy speeds accross the uk is the old copper network which BT say they are currently upgrading (bt's 21cn network upgrades are meant to roll out in the next 3 years)

BT also lease lines to other companys which is why you get others offering broadband down the same line so long as you have a bt phone line. BT maintain the network for these parties too and sure do take their sweet time fixing 3rd party problems.

we don't need the new network per-se the one we have works and is fine for the majority of people but the network needs overall improvement to a reasonable standard before worrying about high end speeds. There are people in the uk who can just barely get 256Kb which i wouldnt even class as broadband, i get faster speeds on my phone.

As for the tax? that will just become a standard tax that they will conveniently forget to remove once the network has been improved. There is enough cash in the system to do this already and the only hinderance to these improvements is profiteering.
ffjason 14th December 2009, 15:33 Quote
Not surprising when you look how cheap BT, Virgin & orange etc are when it comes to maintenance or customer service! All these "traffic management" policies are just an excuse for the ISP because their servers can't handle their customer base! Idiots all of them. For another thing "have you tried restarting your modem" is not a valid diagnostic method when I have restarted the modem over 50 times already and the problem is still recurring. And having it as the answer to ALL of your troubleshooting problem is not valid either! If your customers have that many problems with the modem maybe you should consider designing better ones?! Isn't that what we're paying you for?

On the positive side Be & ADSL24 are awesome companies who seem to care about their customers! You pay for what you get I would say, virgin, bt and orange etc may be cheaper but their service is terrible too!
thEcat 14th December 2009, 16:22 Quote
I upgraded to bt's 21cn (ADSL2+) two weeks ago and speed, 14Mb right now, is at the lower end of my expectations. Distance to the exchange by postcode about 550m, estimated distance by road about 650m both of these would put me at 20+Mb. The problem is, I guess, the old cabling to the exchange as my measured attenuation indicates 1.5km and my actual speed would put me nearer 2.5km from the exchange. I cannot see bt re-cabling the exchange runs for every ADSL user so it looks like a long wait for fiber to the cabinet.

As for the statements from our UK government/politicians, every comment I've ever heard regarding internet and broadband convinces me further that they just don't 'get' it. There was a time when authority equalled veracity, when finding facts and figures to challenge their statements was all but impossible and they appear stuck in that long gone age of bullshit. Today, facts and figures are a click away: 'The UK are world leaders in internet connectivity' <click> oh no we're not. Is it really so dificult to understand this age of information or is it more convienient play lip service while trying to ignore it in the hope it will go away and their credibility will remain unchallenged ?
isaac12345 14th December 2009, 17:39 Quote
I think the laws need to be stronger. They should impose low contention ratios,make average speed a legal necessity on broadband ads, and increase the minimum limit, for a connection to be called broadband, to atleast 2mbps. Finally, if possible make broadband a fundamental right like Finland has done. The UK , I think, is in dire need for faster broadband.
HourBeforeDawn 14th December 2009, 20:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whalemeister
Hardly surprising but a little disappointing for a developed country like the UK

eh dont complain at least its not nearly as bad as it is in US, granted all of the UK can fit inside the US many times over but Im tired of that excuse being used all the time for the crappy internet we have over here ><
Gonzalo-Gonads 14th December 2009, 20:39 Quote
Don't want to brag or anything; but here in sweden we get 50mbit mobile broadband with our new 4G network which will soon evolve to 80mbit, 24mbit cable is available to everyone and 100mbit to the majority (on the 24mbit I get 14 mbit download and 1 mbit upload) *Ducks*
Gonzalo-Gonads 14th December 2009, 20:42 Quote
oh and this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PD0JHl4UzBc
Now thats something to dream about!
Zeus-Nolan 15th December 2009, 00:05 Quote
im getting 17mbit from sky and i live a good 1/4 mile from the exchange and love my 2.0mb/s, not bad upload of something like 1mbit so 150kb/s, for me the internet is fine here if i had faster internet then i would only fill my hdd's faster so im fine with that :)
Von Lazuli 15th December 2009, 03:13 Quote
Having just looked at their data (available here), I would take it with a pinch of salt. They are only working on average advertised speed rather than real-world speeds. This means they are only using theoretical maximums. Thus, strangely enough, Australia is 6th in the world, despite having worse real speeds than the vast majority of the world. Speedtest.net gives a much better picture, with Australia averaging 2mbit down and 0.7up... Definitely not the 15mbit that the OECD report suggests.
The_Beast 15th December 2009, 04:03 Quote
US speeds are stretchy at best, a small village (1000 people) gets 5mbps while I'm about 2 miles from the center of my town (15,000 people) and the max plan we can get is 1.5mbps.


We pay $30 and they pay around the same, it's ridiculous
ZERO <ibis> 15th December 2009, 04:29 Quote
One of the big problems in the US is the top internet companies have no real competition it is onl dsl or cable in most places and there is a huge difference between the two. As a result prices are high and expansion is slow because it is impossible for anyone to compete against the monopoly unless the state decides to allow multiple companies.
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