BT

BT Openzone wi-fi network closing to O2 customers

From 1 July customers of O2 will no longer have access to BT Openzone wi-fi hotspots around the UK, when a four-year deal between the two firms ends.

In an email to customers, O2 says its own network of more than 8,000 wi-fi hotspots will still be available in various shops and restaurant chains.

BT Openzone has five million hotspots but O2 says that only 4,200 of them were ever shared with its customers.

It means O2 will lose around one third of its current wi-fi hotspot network.

The change is the result of a four-year agreement between the two telecoms firms coming to an end on 30 June.

“From 1 July 2013, we will no longer offer access to BT Openzone wi-fi hotspots to our customers,” said O2 in a statement.

“We’ll continue to extend the reach and scale of O2 wi-fi through exciting partnerships with venues including O2 shops, restaurants, retail outlets and outdoor and indoor locations across the UK.”

The firm says it has six million wi-fi customers.

The end of the deal with BT Openzone follows disappointment for O2 in the 4G spectrum auction held in February, Kester Mann, senior analyst at CCS Insight, told the BBC.

“The reduction in the number of hotspots is a blow to O2 customers,” he said.

“At the recent 4G auction, O2 failed to secure frequencies at 2.6GHz. This may mean that it will struggle to meet the growing data-needs of its customers, particularly in high-density areas.

“A focus on alternative technologies such as wi-fi may have given the operator the opportunity to address this potential shortfall,” Mr Mann added.

“This is particularly important given that its 4G licence mandates a minimum indoor coverage requirement of 98% of the UK population by the end of 2017.”

[VIa BBC News}

Average UK broadband speeds hit double figures

Residential broadband speeds more than treble in four years to 12.0Mbit/s

Average residential UK broadband speeds reached 12.0Mbit/s in November 2012, Ofcom research reveals.

Ofcom’s latest report into fixed-line residential broadband speeds shows that the average actual UK speed has risen by a third (3.1Mbit/s or 34%) in the six months from May to November 2012, as take-up of ‘superfast’ services increased.

The report also shows that the average broadband speed has more than trebled in the last four years, from 3.6Mbit/s in November 2008 to its current level of 12.0Mbit/s (an increase of 234%).

Table One: Average actual UK fixed-line residential broadband speeds since November 20081

Date Average actual UK fixed-line residential broadband speed
Nov 2008 3.6Mbit/s
May 2009 4.1Mbit/s
May 2010 5.2Mbit/s
Nov/Dec 2010 6.2Mbit/s
May 2011 6.8Mbit/s
Nov 2011 7.6Mbit/s
May 2012 9.0Mbit/s
November 2012 12.0Mbit/s

Migration to high-speed services gains momentum

Consumers’ continuing migration to higher-speed broadband packages is helping to drive the increase in actual UK average speeds2.

By November 2012, more than three quarters (77%) of UK fixed-line residential broadband users were on packages with advertised speeds above ‘up to’ 10Mbit/s, up from 58% a year earlier.

The proportion of broadband connections classed as ‘superfast’ (those with an advertised speed of ‘up to’ 30Mbit/s or above) is also on the increase. By November 2012, 13% of residential broadband connections were superfast, more than doubling from 5% in November 2011.

Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “Our research shows that UK consumers are adopting faster broadband packages to cater for their increasing use of bandwidth-heavy services such as video streaming. The increase in the average number of connected devices in UK homes is also driving the need for speed.

“Internet providers are working to meet consumer demand through network upgrades and the launch of superfast packages, giving consumers faster speeds and greater choice.”

Average speeds by connection category

Superfast

The research shows that residential superfast broadband connections are getting faster, with average speeds increasing from 35.8Mbit/s in May 2012, to 44.6Mbit/s in November 2012 (an increase of 8.8Mbit/s or 25%).

The increase during this six-month period was primarily driven by growth in take-up of ‘up to’ 76Mbit/s fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) services and Virgin Media continuing to upgrade its existing customer base on to higher speed services.

Current Generation

For connections with a headline speed above ‘up to’ 10Mbit/s but below ‘up to’ 30Mbit/s, average speeds increased from 7.3Mbit/s in May 2012, to 8.1Mbit/s in November 2012 (an increase of 0.7Mbit/s or 10%).3

Average speeds within the ‘up to’ 2Mbit/s and ‘up to’ (and including) 10Mbit/s category fell from 5.6Mbit/s to 4.4Mbit/s during the same period (a decrease of 1.2Mbit/s or 21%).

This decrease is partly due to the fact that this category now contains a lower proportion of cable connections (as a result of Virgin Media’s ‘double speed’ upgrade programme), which typically deliver much higher speeds than the copper connections that make up the rest of this category.4

Average speeds by technology

Of the different types of broadband technologies, Ofcom’s research found that cable broadband connections generated the greatest increases in average speeds in the six months to November 2012 – up by 10.4Mbit/s (58%) to 28.3Mbit/s.

Average actual speeds recorded for fibre connections also increased, by 9.4Mbit/s (30%) to 41.0Mbit/s, during the same period.

Average speeds for ADSL broadband – a technology that delivers broadband over copper wires – also increased, albeit by just 0.2Mbit/s (3%) to 6.0Mbit/s.

Comparisons between ISPs’ download speeds

Of the 12 ISP packages included in the report, Virgin Media’s ‘up to’ 100Mbit/s service was the fastest, with the research revealing average actual speeds of 92.6Mbit/s over a 24 hour period.

Of the other superfast packages included in the research, the average download speed on BT Infinity’s ‘up to’ 76Mbit/s service was 63.3Mbit/s, compared with Virgin Media’s ‘up to’ 60Mbit/s at 59.0Mbit/s.

BT’s ‘up to’ 38Mbit/s package achieved speeds of 34.2Mbit/s while Virgin Media’s ‘up to’ 30Mbit/s service had average speeds of 28.7Mbit/s.

Measuring speeds at peak times

The report contains new analysis comparing average peak time speeds (weekdays from 8pm to 10pm) with maximum connection speeds (the maximum speed achieved by each connection during the month).

Networks can become more congested at peak times resulting in lower speeds. This is known as ‘network contention’. 5 The most significant differences in speeds achieved at peak times occurred for superfast packages.

In this category, the proportion of panellists who, on average, received more than 90% of their maximum speeds at peak times ranged from 35% for Virgin Media’s ‘up to’ 30Mbit/s service to 91% for BT’s ‘up to’ 38Mbit/s service.

The findings suggest that, while there was relatively little congestion in BT’s fibre network in November 2012, levels of contention were higher in Virgin Media’s cable network.

Table Two: Average download speeds by ISP package6

These ranges reflect the average speeds that would be achieved 95 times out of 100 if the exercise was repeated with 100 sets of different panellists. If the range of two operators overlap, then these operators offer comparable performance. These ranges are not a description of the range of speeds actually measured.

 

Fastest upload speeds

Ofcom’s research also looks at upload speeds, which are particularly important to those consumers looking to share large files or use real-time video communications. The average actual upload speed of a UK fixed broadband connection was 1.4Mbit/s in November 2012, 0.3Mbit/s (30%) higher than the average recorded in May 2012.

The research found that BT Infinity’s ‘up to’ 76Mbit/s service delivered the highest upload speeds of all the packages, averaging 16.1Mbit/s. Among the ADSL2+ packages included in the research, O2’s service provided the fastest average upload speeds at 1.0Mbit/s.

Ofcom broadband speeds research

This is Ofcom’s eighth report into fixed-line residential broadband speeds using data collected by research partner SamKnows.

The report provides data on the average performance of fixed-line residential broadband in the UK and of the individual ISP packages included in the research. In total, these packages accounted for over 60% of UK residential broadband connections in November 2012.

The results help consumers to understand the significant variations in the performance of ISP packages and, when considered alongside other factors such as price, can help them to make more informed purchasing decisions.

All of the UK’s largest ISPs are signatories to Ofcom’s Voluntary Code of Practice on broadband speeds. Ofcom is conducting mystery shopping research to check ISPs’ compliance with the code this year.

Ofcom will also be carrying out research to assess the average mobile broadband speeds received by 3G and 4G customers. Ofcom expects to conduct this research around December 2013 and publish the results in spring 2014.

Lancashire agrees broadband deal

Lancashire has become the first UK county to agree a deal to roll broadband out to rural areas.

It will use some government money and has partnered with BT which will also be providing funding.

The government wants to improve rural broadband and councils have been given until the end of April to get projects up and running.

Ofcom estimates that 15% of homes in the county currently have speeds of less than 2Mbps (megabits per second).

The government has pledged to provide everyone in the country with speeds of at least 2Mbps by 2015 and has set aside £530m to fund this.

It also wants to see 90% of homes and businesses have access to “superfast” broadband – defined as speeds of 24Mbps or higher – by the same timeframe.

There have been criticisms that the drive to get broadband into rural areas has been too slow with councils ill-equipped to negotiate deals with telecom companies (telcos) and too little money being provided to help them.

BDUK (Broadband Delivery) was set up to administer the cash. Each county was told how much money it would get from the pot although few have yet come up with viable projects.

BT is one of the few telcos bidding to provide networks.

Starting blocks

In Lancashire BT plans to extend its existing fibre broadband to 97% of premises in the county by the end of 2014.

The telco will contribute £30m to the project with the government putting in £10.8m. Some £16.5m will come from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with local councils contributing £5.2m.

Lancashire county council (LCC) said the broadband project would also boost the local economy by creating about 2,500 jobs and protecting more than 1,200 jobs over the next few years.

In addition, LCC has created a £500,000 community fund to help reach the most remote premises with an initial pilot taking place to the east of Lancaster.

Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “Today our ambition to provide Lancashire citizens and business with a world-class broadband service turns into a reality. It is important that as many areas as possible benefit, and that is why we have ensured that even the more remote areas of the county see a significant improvement in their speeds.”

Bill Murphy, managing director, Next Generation Access, BT, added: “It’s great to see Lancashire be first out of the BDUK starting blocks in this regional race for speed.”

Via BBC News

BT and TalkTalk lose file-sharing appeal

BT and TalkTalk have lost an appeal over controversial measures to tackle copyright infringement online.

The internet service providers (ISPs) had argued the UK’s Digital Economy Act was incompatible with EU law.

The Act will mean ISPs will have to send warning letters to alleged illegal file downloaders, as well as potentially cutting users off.

The creative industry argues that piracy costs £400m a year in lost revenue.

The firms’ lawyers said the stricter measures could result in an invasion of privacy and run up disproportionate costs for both ISPs and consumers.

In a statement, TalkTalk said it was now “considering our options”.

“We’re disappointed that our appeal was unsuccessful though we welcome the additional legal clarity that has been provided for all parties,” the company said.

“Though we have lost this appeal we will continue fighting to defend our customers’ rights against this ill-judged legislation.”

‘Stop fighting’

The decision was welcomed by copyright advocates.

Christine Payne, general secretary of the Actors’ union Equity, called on the ISPs to “stop fighting and start obeying the law”.

“Once again the court is on the side of the almost two million workers in the creative industries whose livelihoods are put at risk because creative content is stolen on a daily basis,” she said.

Adam Rendle, a copyright specialist at international law firm Taylor Wessing, said he expected BT and TalkTalk to now appeal to the Supreme Court.

He added that it was also likely the companies would step up lobbying efforts, perhaps harnessing support from groups recently protesting against the US Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and the EU’s proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta).

“We know how keen internet users are to protect what they see as freedom of speech,” Mr Rendle told the BBC.

“When the Digital Economy Act itself was passed in the dying stages of the Labour government, there was a huge amount of disquiet that this kind of important legislation was being introduced without proper scrutiny.

“That kind of disquiet didn’t result in the kind of action we’ve seen against Acta and Sopa. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a lot more public outcry than there was when the Act was first passed.”

Via: BBC News

BT to offer 300 Mbps fibre optic broadband ‘on demand’ in 2013

Fibre optic connections with speeds of up to 300 Megabits per second will be available on demand in 2013, BT says.

That is three times the maximum 100 Mbps speed the company currently offers using the technology and it described the development as a “game changer”.

According to Ofcom the current UK broadband average is 7.6 Mbps.BT said it hoped to create a “mass market” for high speed broadband among small and medium sized businesses following trials in Cornwall.

The company made the announcement following successful trials of fibre to the premise (FTTP) in St Agnes.

“By December 2014, two-thirds of the country will have access to ultra-fast fibre if they want it” said Mike Galvin of Openreach, part of the BT group. The firm plans to roll out the system starting next year.

Costly connections

Optical fibre links to street cabinets are widespread, but the connection from cabinet to premises is in most cases copper cable, limiting the speed of the connection.

FTTP will require a fibre-optic connection to the premise from the street cabinet to be installed.

But that may not mean digging up the road.

“It could be overhead, might be on a pole, might be in an existing ductwork,” Openreach’s Mike Galvin told the BBC.

But connection will come at a price. BT said the installation fees will most likely be in the high hundreds of pounds, possibly more.

What individual customers will have to pay will depend on whether companies who provide broadband connections, such as ISPs, pass them on to consumers.

Spending on speed

Installing a high-speed connection at a price is not in itself innovative, but BT believes the new product is a significant development.

“If you had the money you could have had your own private plane as well, and that’s the difference – you are making something that was previously a high-end product and you’re bringing availability to the mass market,” Mr Galvin said.

He added that the FTTP system was “future proof” allowing BT to upgrade as still faster technologies were developed.

“There are technologies coming up which will give speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps),” he said.

BT said the roll out was enabled by changes to the way they use their network.

“We’ve re-engineered and re-looked at how we do fibre in our local network,” Mr Galvin said.

“We think this is an absolute game changer. Overnight you’ve gone form a network that’s got the potential to do 80 Mbps across two thirds of the country to a network that on demand can do 300 Mbps.”

At present the company only offers FTTP for the areas around 14 exchanges.

Changing commitments

Some rivals have accused BT of cutting back on previous commitments – namely dropping a target for the percentage of properties with fibre to the door.

Virgin recently announced they were doubling broadband speeds however, BT said it still planned to spend the same £2.5bn on fibre, and that in cases where the fibre only went up the cabinet, premises would soon be able to get 80 Mbps speed.

A spokesman told the BBC, “Before this development FTTP was going to be available in a relatively small subset of our fibre footprint. This development means it can be available in the whole of our fibre footprint.”

The government wants 90% of UK businesses to be connected to super-fast broadband by 2015.

The announcement of BT’s new product follows news of high-speed offerings from rivals.

A Virgin Media spokesman said: “We’re about to boost the speeds for millions of people yet again with our doubling upgrade and the introduction of 120 Mbps.

“Having successfully proven 1.5 Gbps on our network last summer, Britain’s broadband is moving in the right direction.”

Via: BBC News