Colton Superfast Broadband Why it's important and how we can get it......Mike Postle (mike@postle.co)

A Tale of Two Thirds/One Third: the Background Facts……..

The UK superfast broadband policy, as outlined in the ‘Digital Britain’ report [www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm76/7650/7650.pdf], recognised the importance to the UK economy of delivering superfast broadband across the Country. It gave targets of a universal 2 Mb/s service to all by 2012 (since put back to 2015) and 90% coverage at superfast 40 Mb/s by 2017. (Worth a read – even if only the executive summary).

BT Openreach is in the process of upgrading its core network to carry superfast broadband where it is commercially viable. About two thirds of the UK will be covered by this upgrade including Barrow and Dalton.  Which leaves the final one third, where connection is not thought to be commercially viable. Colton Parish is certainly in this category.

Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is the Body tasked with working with local authorities to connect up the ‘final third’ (Incidentally which represents about 85% of the UK land mass). It will do this with an allocation of £530m of public money and aims to stimulate commercial investment in – mostly rural – areas where investment has not been commercially viable.

To finish this piece on an optimistic note: It’s worth noting that commercial viability is constantly changing as the technology improves. It’s quite likely that areas which currently look as if they will never get a good connection will ultimately end up with one……

So just what is superfast broadband?

It’s only a few year’s ago that most of us connected our computers using a dial-up connection through the phone line. The noises we could hear coming down the phone line carried about 56 thousand bits of information every second. That was fine for exchanging e-mails but pictures and other graphics seemed to take forever.

Then came along broadband – still using the copper wires which connect our phones - and the use of the internet took off. Shopping, running our business from home and many other uses became possible. My broadband runs at about 30 times dial up speeds [1.5 Mb/s], the UK average is 125 times dial up speed [7 Mb/s] and the maximum possible over copper wires is just under 430 times this speed [24Mb/s].

1 Mb/s - 1 million bits of information per second being carried to your computer - sounds impressive but even that is not enough for many of today’s applications - using video - for example. (The iPlayer is a waste of time here: not enough bits per second being delivered to us……)

Superfast Broadband is generally taken to mean anything above what copper wires can carry ie above 24Mb/s. The UK is in the middle of building a comprehensive network of optical fibre connections to replace copper wires. It’s these fibres which will carry information at speeds anything up to 300Mb/s and beyond……and that opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

It's not just for the Geeks....

......or even for those who own a computer. Two things are happening which will effect our lives in some quite profound ways anyway.

 

The first is that within a few years (nominally by the end of 2015 but allow for some slippage) well over 90% of businesses and households will have superfast broadband. Only a small minority will not. So the assumption will be that everyone has it and many essential - as well as many nice-to-have - services will be designed and delivered using it. The minority risk being put at a significant disadvantage.

 

The second is that computers are at the heart of many everyday devices and this trend is set to continue. It's not just the smart phones and tablets which have become commonplace over the last three years but all those devices which contain a built-in computer: TVs, cars, washing machines, smart meters to name but four. These computers will increasingly rely on being connected through superfast broadband. Even if you haven't bought a computer, you are likely to own several.  

 

Superfast Broadband - Colton can not afford to miss out!

Somehow I've acquired the job of Colton broadband champion: this blog is my attempt to try to explain what it means and how, if we work together, we can bring an essential resource into our Parish. I'll add the blog facility to make it interactive as we go on......

Whether you use the internet at home, for your business or you are not yet connected, the latest developments in spreading access to superfast broadband across most of the UK will have a profound effect on how all of us live and work. Communities which get left behind will be at a severe disadvantage.......which is why it's so important to influence what's going on now and make sure our community is properly served.