As the UK peers criticise the government for focusing too much on impressive broadband speeds in the UK and not enough on the infrastructure to give everyone better speeds, the point is hit home as wireless communcations fall apart under Olympic strain:
A Lords Communication Committee has released a report which indicates that the government's broadband strategy is focusing too heavily on speed and is ignoring the fact that many communities are failing to receive a decent service at all. The government has said that it wants to have the fastest broadband service in Europe by 2015, however the Lord's report suggests that there is a risk that this strategy is leaving some customers and businesses behind. They say speed should not be the guiding principle, but that all of the UK should be able to benefit from these increasing speeds even if they live in a remote area. The reports suggests that a network of fibre-hubs should be set up to get faster broadband to those areas which have missed out so far. Local people will then be able to buy the speed which suits them best. BT have expressed their surprise that the report is so critical. They say that compared to Europe, the UK has fantastic coverage and is looked up to by other countries. The government has also pointed out that they are investing in rural broadband.
The recently released Lord's report into the internet has suggested that television should eventually be available via the internet rather than digitally. They have suggested that the government should make plans to switch TV signals to the internet to free up spectrum for mobile signals. They say that the case for doing so will eventually become overwhelming as more and more people use mobile broadband services. However it has been pointed out that the UK will need much better broadband network coverage and speeds if this was to become a reality. BT, Sky, Talk talk and Virgin Media are already starting to offer video on demand services as an alternative to digital and the recent launch of YouView is also using the internet to bring TV to people's homes. The report suggests that using airwaves to offer television is wasteful and that plans should be made now to prepare for a switch in years to come.
Research from PlusNet has indicated that more than half the customer traffic on their network comes from streaming. Most of this comes via services like the BBC iPlayer or YouTube which are free, however when combined with other streaming services such as 4oD, Demand 5 and the ITV Player it adds up to half their traffic. Netflix is also becoming a major contributor to this figure. They also point out that the Sky Go service is taking some time to take off, with only exclusive content being watched regularly using this. Sky Go peaked when the Formula One and Premier League games were on.
People attending the Olympics are being urged to scale down their use of social networking sites after there were problems with communications during the women's cycling road race. Broadcasters from the BBC were failing to receive GPS signals which were telling them the locations of the riders. It is thought this was because of overloaded networks due to fans using sites like Twitter as the riders passed them. The International Olympic Committee have said that they would never tell people not to use social media sites, but they have suggested it is best done only in an emergency. It was pointed out that many were complaining about the lack of information during the race, but this was ironically caused by there being too many Tweets. Experts suggest that those who were installing the networks for the Olympics should have foreseen this. † [last update: 01.08.12]
Related External Sources:
Lords Communications Committee criticises broadband focus - www.bbc.co.uk
TV should switch to internet peers suggest - www.guardian.co.uk
Plusnet says streaming now makes up 50% of network traffic - www.cable.co.uk
First strain on Olympic communication networks - www.computerworlduk.com
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