UK ADSL Slowdown

Copied with permission from Dok's blog

Britain's Broadband internet revolution seems to be grinding to a halt, just a few short years after it began. The vast majority of internet access in the UK is now via broadband, with over half the homes here having access to a 4Mb line or better. Unfortunately it doesn't get much better than that.

Britain's creaking old copper-wire telephone system was never intended to carry such huge amounts of data and is now pretty much at capacity, at 8Mb. There is talk of further exchange upgrades being able to push this up to 16Mb, but that's the limit for copper wire.

Cable providers, such as Virgin and NTL, are able to utilise the far superior fiber-optic cables to provide speeds of up to 25Mb currently, with Virgin looking to introduce 50Mb services by the end of 2009. However, the access to cable is limited, and it's a bit of a lottery as to weather or not you can get access to it.

BT plan on spending £10bn on exchange upgrades and on converting some copper-wire systems to fiber-optic by 2011, giving access to speeds of up to 24Mb, but the area effected is going to be minimal. They say that to convert the whole system to fiber-optic would be so expensive it is literally an impossibility. When you consider that other countries are planning to implement 100Mb lines with huge percentages of coverage in the near future, it's quite easy to see just how far behind we are getting in this new technological race. The implications for UK businesses competing in the global market could be very serious, with Britain becoming the bottleneck of the global communications network and simply being unable to compete in the IT arena.

And more importantly, I want a 100Mb line to play PlanetSide! That would rock 🙂