In London, a Glimpse of a Broadband Future

37 Comments

broadbandlondonLondon is one of those few fortunate cities to have a surfeit of telecom competition. From broadband providers to mobile operators, Londoners have a choice. They have decent broadband speeds as well as access to Wi-Fi and 3G networks. And as a result, there has been a big change in their behavior. A new report from Ofcom outlines how Londoners (and the rest of the UK) are using these new wireless and broadband services. It’s a great example of how consumer behavior changes with bandwidth.

In London:

* 40 percent of people watch TV or video content online.
* 20 percent make VoIP calls.
* 32 percent are using their mobile phones to access the Internet.
* 19 percent listen to audio content on their mobiles.

Impressed? I am! I feel London has the user base to qualify as an always-on platform that will soon spur interesting applications, including many that are yet to be invented.

37 Comments

Daniel Johnson

I’m suprised that many people are continuing with slow broadband and reliable service within London, I know that Ofcom now have endorsed a compare broadband service so Londoners now have some fair choice in choosing the best broadband

Colin

I can confirm the O2 deal – I switched over to it 1 month ago and am now getting 10.5Mbps throughput (about 40Gb per month limit) for £15 a month via ADSL2+ (would be £10 a month if I also has an O2 mobile phone).

However, this is getting towards the limit of what copper telephone lines can achieve unless you live right next door to the exchange. The only way we’ll get faster in the future is if cable TV networks are improved (cable TV is minimal in the UK compared to the USA) or if the operators start installing fibre into homes. ‘4G’ wireless networks (e.g. WiMAX) are also some time off.

BobCFC

I switched to Be Unlimited, which is owned now by O2 so I think it uses the same network. They have their own equipement at the exchange, they do not just sublet BT bandwith, so are able to offer better speeds/value

I am getting 24mbps ADSL2+ over normal copper wires in a block of flats(apartment) for £18 a month (35dollars)

When you can download 2megabytes per second with no monthly cap on gigabytes your lifestyle changes. I am in the process of cancelling my satellite TV subscription.

jimconnolly

@phil,

Thanks for the heads-up on the 02 deal – never seen that advertised and can’t find it on their website either. I am an 02 phone user, so it would have been a natural choice for me. BTW: Their sales staff never heard of it either! Perhaps that says something about 02 sales support?

Some great comments here – Om gets some very informed readers. Hopefully my new blog will do the same at http://www.thetechnewsblog.com

Thanks

Jim Connolly
TheTechNewsBlog.com

Tom

Interesting, except we recently had a report detailing how our entire broadband infrastructure was not capable of handling all the demands being placed on it. Infact they were showcasing the networks available on continental Europe.

Computerden

as long as our lines are running through bt exchanges, the quality of these things will remain pretty poor

Georgio

In the UK we have many broadband packages to choose from but 99% of them don’t deliver what they promise. I have an 8mb line with Virgin Media and my average download speed is around 70kb/s. In my opinion we’re going backwards, not forwards.

When BT first introduced 512k Broadband about 5-6 years ago my line speed was far quicker. Where’s the sense in that?

These broadband providers should not be allowed to advertise speeds they cannot deliver. Airlines are not allowed to do it when selling cheap air tickets so why the hell do Broadband providers get away with it?

Phil

@ jimconnolly

I have unlimited 16meg broadband from O2 for only £15 month (or £30 if you don’t have an O2 mobile). The service is excellent and I think they offer an unlimited mobile service as well (albeit with their iPhone package and therefore at present, sllooowww EDGE, not 3G).

You just need to shop around and you can find great deals.

SilentUK

What is missing here is the fact that the broadband speeds in the UK are nothing compared to what’s being advertised. Only 12% of customers are getting te advertised speed. I myself pay $60 a month for a 8 MBPS connection only to receive 2,4 – 3,4 MBPS which is simply unacceptable. I don’t care if they say “UP TO 8mpbs” because that’s BS.
There was another report released recently about what british telecom comapnies have decided. The decided there is NO NEED to upgrade the comms system!!!

Gerard

£28 for 50 gig… that’s pretty cheap. Try South Africa…. a 512kbp line with a 3 gig cap costs R479 (£31 or $62)… On top of that, they also shape your traffic. Unshaped costs extra – R652 (£42 or $85)

Steve

Speaking as a Londoner, I can confirm that there are plenty of providers, each with enough packages to cater for just about everybody. Personally, I have an uncapped 8MB ADSL line at home (and I do actually get the full 8MB), which is more expensive than the smaller capacity / capped options, because I often download Linux ISOs – I couldn’t tell you how much it costs exactly as the cost is bundled up with my line rental and I don’t have a bill to hand. Out and about I have a SE K800i on three’s (mobile provider) 3G network with a 5 GBP / month plan for 1GB of data – since I only browse the odd website and read a few RSS feeds I generally only get through 30Mb or so of data in a month. I have been giving some though to switching over to 3G at home too, but I think I’d miss the extra capacity of the wired ADSL.

Fat Man Collective

As a Londoner and iPhone addict with a wandering wi-fi, I concur London is switched on, but it comes at a price, with the need to hop from one subscription wireless network to another.

Free wi-fi is near impossible to find, with that, London could truly claim to be the most connected city in Europe, but the number of competing telcos, means making this a reality is hard.

We also have an opportunity to be true innovators in the mobile start-up realm, given widespread mobile web usage, but lack the insight and support of many VC’s to differentiate ourselves from Silicon Valley.

kamla bhatt

Yes, London is incredibly lucky to have all those telecom companies and the folks out there use their phone for lots of multimedia stuff.

But, ff you are a visitor to London finding Internet connect at economical rates is quite a challenge. You invariably have to fork out lots of greenbacks to be on the net, and sometimes you end up paying at the hotel as well as when you are out on the road.

Anybody feel the same way? Maybe I missed something when I was there.

Kamla Bhatt

BitSpain

But you dont need only a 3G network, you need a “flat price”, a fixed price for 3G daily connections, and dont pay for time or data, like YOIGO 3G operator in Spain.
This is the real way to move in the right direction for Mobile Internet.

Dave

I should add that I go on the internet to avoid TV, the last thing I want to do is watch shows on a screen that is smaller than my normal TV set.( I don’t have apple tv).:-)

Chi-chi Ekweozor

@Jim

Wow, interesting insights.

You are pretty much at the bleeding edge with this; I’m not sure you will find many folk worrying about being charged by the gig to watch Internet TV!

I suspect this will become a bigger issue with the launch of uber-broadband TV players like Kangaroo (a joint effort between ITV, the BBC and Channel 4).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2007/11/iplayer_and_kangaroo_1.html

Judging by the success of pay per view for certain TV programmes in the UK, my gut feeling is that it could happen. After all, a lot of the popular football games are on pay per view.

I would vote to stop it if I could though.

Now following you on Twitter!

Chi-chi Ekweozor

@Jim:

Wow, interesting insights.

You are pretty much on the bleeding edge with this; I’m not sure you will find many folk worrying about being charged by the gig to watch Internet TV!

I suspect this will become a bigger issue with the launch of uber-broadband TV players like Kangaroo (a joint effort between ITV, the BBC and Channel 4).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2007/11/iplayer_and_kangaroo_1.html

Judging by the success of pay per view for certain TV programmes in the UK, my gut feeling is that it could happen. After all, a lot of the popular football games are on pay per view.

I would vote to stop it if I could though.

Now following you on Twitter!

jimconnolly

@chi-chi
Yes! I have gone over a few times, mainly because I watch a LOT of Internet TV; (Including Om’s excellent Gigaom show on Revision3.)

The premium I have to pay is actually very low; around $12 for the next 50 gig. There are providers, however, who charge massive premiums if you go over your allowance. I have never needed more than 100 gig in a month (not yet).

The worry here, is that with higher quality videos becoming available – these per month allowances are not going to be sufficient. As Internet TV becomes a richer experience, the pay-per-gig model becomes an obstacle to viewing for people on a budget. A two tier Internet anyone?

I chat occasionally with Lance Ulanoff from PC Magazine and he is really worried that the States are about to follow the pay-per-gig model we have in the UK.

Please don’t let it happen to you. If this model hit’s the States, it could REALLY hurt the development of Internet TV!

It basically turns Internet TV into pay per view – that’s a very bad idea!

Jim Connolly
The Tech News Blog

jimconnolly

@chi-chi
Yes! I have gone over a few times, mainly because I watch a LOT of Internet TV; (Including Om’s excellent Gigaom show on Revision3.)

The premium I have to pay is actually very low; around $12 for the next 50 gig. There are providers, however, who charge massive premiums if you go over your allowance. I have never needed more than 100 gig in a month (not yet).

The worry here, is that with higher quality videos becoming available – these per month allowances are not going to be sufficient. As Internet TV becomes a richer experience, the pay-per-gig model becomes an obstacle to viewing for people on a budget. A two tier Internet anyone?

I chat occasionally with Lance Ulanoff from PC Magazine and he is really worried that the States are about to follow the pay-per-gig model we have in the UK. He wrote a great article here http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2704,2289143,00.asp

Please don’t let it happen to you. If this model hit’s the States, it could REALLY hurt the development of Internet TV!

It basically turns Internet TV into pay per view – that’s a very bad idea!

Jim Connolly
The Tech News Blog

Chi-chi Ekweozor

Excellent post, Om.

Thanks for the heads up and the link to Ofcom’s eye-opening report.

@jimconnolly Have you ever gone over 50 gig? Would be interested to know if you’ve been stung by the “premium”…

neville

The Ofcom report PDF has some interesting data. I’m in the UK so find this of particular interest.

What I found more interesting was listening to Ofcom CEO James Thickett talking about the report and the data, and what it all means, in a video Ofcom created and posted to YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ9G1ftywDs

They do this a lot. They understand conversational communication, it seems to me.

Om Malik

Hey guys at the end of the page for the report there are individual country breakdowns for UK and from there if you read the report you find the information. The link is correct.

ken

as soon as this april some states here in the USA will have a new wireless
tech T-1 speeds 100% coverage under $20 a month we here in the USA. Have
hade no true telecom competition because thay all charge around the same,
$65 yo $99 a month

jimconnolly

Interesting post Om,

Of course, one of the problems with broadband here in the UK, is that it is typically either capped or metered. We usually get a set limit, and once this is used you have to pay extra. I get 50 gig a month at home with my provider, and pay around £28 (almost $60 US) If I go over, I have to pay a premium.

This is in stark contrast to my experiences in the States last year, where my friends were using broadband based on the ‘all you can eat’ model – with faster connections and a lower monthly cost too.

I also use 3g mobile broadband (on the ‘3’ network) and am charged £25 around $48(US) for just 7 gig! That’s not a spelling error – SEVEN GIG for nearly fifty bucks!

It’s good to have choice – I just wish there was some ‘serious’ price competition here.

Jim Connolly
The Tech News Blog

Richard H-S

Link needs a bit of fix. Report shows that UK in general is digitising fast. Bit puzzled by the 20% VOIP claim. Many may have tried but wonder how many still use. Perhaps this is the quetsion that we need to start asking ourselves?

Dave

It’s all well and good for Londoners, but for the rest of us (I live on the South coast)broadband is total crap because no-one will upgrade our ancient phone lines. No cable, no FiOS, just old oxidised copper crud. Things aren’t as advanced in the UK as they like to make out.

Nadeem Akhtar

The link to the Ofcom report is broken. Could you please fix as I would to have a look at the document.

Joseph

Does anyone know what these numbers would be for people in the USA?

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