What exactly is superfast broadband?

Posted on Nov 09 2010 by Guest | Comments Off on What exactly is superfast broadband?

The definition of ‘superfast broadband’ continues to cause confusion amongst the industry and more importantly customers  as ISPs lay claim to providing ‘superfast’ services and various government bodies appear to be muddying the waters rather than providing clarification. We asked Editor in Chief of ISPreview.co.uk, Mark Jackson, for his opinion on what exactly constitutes superfast broadband.

So what is superfast broadband?

To most people “broadband” simply means “Internet access”, or perhaps even “faster Internet access”, yet as a descriptive term it’s relatively useless. You can’t define a new technology simply by saying it and its presence in ISP package titles certainly won’t help to describe how fast your expected Internet connection should be.

There was a time when the term broadband became synonymous with “fast Internet access”, albeit spoken in comparison to ancient dialup (narrowband) connections. Similarly most attempts to define the term ultimately remain highly subjective to the time period in which they were first penned, yet crucially what was fast then is slow today.

However an inability to define something so common place as broadband could have serious repercussions for future generations of “super-fast” (Next Generation Access) services, which the government is currently trying to plug as a solution for the country’s aging telecoms infrastructure. After all, just what is “superfast”?

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Unlimited broadband: Fact or Fiction?

Posted on Jul 05 2010 by Guest | 1 Comment

Following the recent news that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is planning a review of ISPs’ use of terminology such as ‘unlimited broadband’, we invited Sebastien Lahtinen, co-founder of thinkbroadband.com, to guest blog on this subject.

Sebastien Lahtinen, Co-founder of thinkbroadband.com

Sebastien Lahtinen

Why ‘unlimited broadband’ is not a viable business proposition in today’s economic climate

In the last few years, broadband service providers have been offering what they call ‘unlimited’ broadband services in the hope of attracting customers in what has been a growth market. This has been possible as, historically, capacity of ISP networks has not been a major limiting factor when the typical broadband service was anything up to 2Mbps.

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Fuss ‘n’ Fibre

Posted on May 17 2010 by Elsa Chen | Comments Off on Fuss ‘n’ Fibre

Everyone seems to be talking about fibre at the moment – the industry news is full of it. What with BT announcing expanded fibre coverage and numerous providers announcing new fibre based services and participation in BT’s latest fibre trials, it seems to be one of the industry’s current hot topics. So, just what is going on and what is all the fuss about?

Elsa Chen, General Manager

Elsa Chen, General Manager

Towards the end of last year BT ran trials of FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) which provided speeds of up to 40Mbps by utilising fibre optic links to street level cabinets and delivering connectivity via VDSL2 technology between the cabinet and the premises. The trials ran until late December and proved successful. Entanet itself was involved. Since then a number of providers including BT Retail have announced the availability of their FTTC based services with prices ranging from £19.99/month up to £179/month for various packages and options.

But why stop at 40Mbps? BT recently announced its latest round of FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) trials which are expected to provide speeds of up to 100Mbps by delivering a fibre based connection right to the premises. Once again Entanet has been significantly involved from an early stage, starting off with the Kesgrave trials way back in 2008 where we experienced customers reaching speeds of 98Mbps.

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Digital Economy Bill: The end is nigh…

Posted on Apr 09 2010 by Darren Farnden | 4 Comments

So, the Digital Economy Bill has passed its final stage before Royal Assent and is now, for all intents and purposes, going to be made law – much to the dismay of many ISPs and Internet entities including Google and ISPA.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

We think it’s laughable that the Bill has been passed through the House of Commons with such speed. After three readings in the House of Lords without prior consultation with those in the Internet access industry and many ill-considered amendments, its passage through the House of Commons has seemingly been accelerated to light speed. The correct political term I believe is ‘pre-election wash up’. This basically means that, whilst we and others have only been able to debate this controversial Bill indirectly, the government has been able to get it passed as quickly as possible before the election. As both of the major political parties agreed on the majority of the clauses within the Bill, they’ve managed to do it easily and with little proper debate, consideration or collaboration with industry.

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Scoring goals with broadband?

Posted on Mar 24 2010 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on Scoring goals with broadband?

In the run-up to the General Election expected this May, the main parties seem determined to make broadband a political football in an effort to win over supporters. This is typical electioneering of course and, in the end, it’ll be down to industry to actually make things happen in the ‘real world’. In true political fashion the winning party will then blame industry when its over-ambitious deadlines are missed, while claiming the credit for every future milestone it thinks industry should be on target to achieve.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

We only have to review progress on the Digital Economy Bill (DEB) though to see that the parties understand little about the moral and practical steps involved in managing Internet access for UK residents and businesses. Both the Labour and Conservative parties’ plans and promises are at best badly thought-out and almost certainly won’t be achieved without the constructive and experienced contribution of the industry bodies and service providers (large and small) that make the UK Internet access market tick.

Let’s look at their claims on broadband. Gordon Brown has said that he wants to make Britain “the world leader in the digital economy” by 2020 and ensure that all homes in the UK, especially those in rural areas, have access to ‘super-fast’ broadband. At this early stage some obvious questions go unanswered. What’s his deadline for delivering ‘super fast’ broadband to absolutely everyone? What actually constitutes ‘super fast’ broadband in his mind? How is the cost going to be covered? Of course as the potential final whistle for Labour looms, this hasty kick from the sidelines is to be expected given the Conservatives’ mindless counter-attack claim that they’ll deliver “100Mbps broadband across most [what does ‘most’ mean?] of the population” by 2017 if/when they take the trophy to No.10.

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Open Rights Group slams the Digital Economy Bill

Posted on Feb 17 2010 by Guest | 1 Comment

Entanet has invited guest blogger Jim Killock from the Open Rights Group (ORG) to give his views on the Digital Economy Bill (DEB). Here he explains why he belives the Bill is fundamentally flawed and advises how you can change it before it makes law. We welcome his comments and encourage you to add to the debate.

Jim Killock, Executive Director, ORG

Jim Killock, Executive Director, ORG

It’s time to stand up against the DEB

The Digital Economy Bill is bad. But exactly how bad, and for who, is only now being properly debated. Those following the Bill closely have known for some time that unacceptable shortcuts are being proposed to detect people accused of illicit file sharing.

Many of you will also be very clear in your own mind that it’s not possible in most cases to equate a customer’s IP address with an individual who may have infringed, yet this is exactly the approach the Digital Economy Bill tries to take. The result is that current government plans will target anyone with a computer with more than one user, or a network.

Beyond households it will, as a result, also impose substantial costs on hotels, restaurants, cafes and eateries who offer free Internet access to their customers – costs which are likely to severely disrupt their business. The Federation of Small Businesses and the British Hoteliers Association are among those raising these concerns.

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Are YOU on the list? – Update

Posted on Jan 28 2010 by Neil Watson | Comments Off on Are YOU on the list? – Update

In one of our early opinion articles back in September 2008, we highlighted the practices of a law firm (Davenport Lyons) who were sending out a number of threatening letters to alleged illegal file sharers demanding a settlement fee of over £300 or threatening court action. The law firms antics were picked up by the consumer group Which? who responded by reporting the firm to the SRA (Solicitors Regulatory Authority).

Neil Watson, Head of Operations

Neil Watson, Head of Operations

Yesterday’s news reports suggest Which? has identified another law firm operating this practice. In November 2009 a ruling by the Royal Courts of Justice granted ACS the ability to demand the personal details of thousands of customers from ISPs. These customers are once again accused of illegal file sharing and once again Which? has come to their rescue. The accused customers are receiving letters demanding between £300 and £500 or face the threat of court action. Which? argues that many of those targeted have been wrongly accused (again) and as we stated in our original article (Are YOU on the list?) this could well be the case as the law firm and copyright holders are identifying the illegal file sharers using IP addresses which can be easily hijacked and spoofed.

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2009 – The good, the bad and the ugly!

Posted on Dec 09 2009 by Elsa Chen | Comments Off on 2009 – The good, the bad and the ugly!

As we approach the end of an eventful year I thought it would be apt to take a look back over the main industry talking points of 2009 to evaluate what happened, why we were discussing it and where we are currently at. When we have completed that let’s take a stab at predicting what we will be discussing in 2010.

Elsa Chen, General Manager

Elsa Chen, General Manager

The ‘hottest’ topic of 2009 was undoubtedly illegal file sharing

We first covered this subject back in April with an article discussing the Pirate Bay case. The four founders of the website ‘The Pirate Bay’ were found guilty in a Swedish court for assisting the illegal downloading of copyrighted material.  They were each sentenced to 1 year in jail and ordered to pay £2.4million in damages to the entertainment industry. This was the catalyst that started the raging debate between the entertainment industry, the government and ISPs which continues to this date. The entertainment industry and a number of high profile MPs, in particular Peter Mandelson, are calling for a three strikes and you’re cut-off policy. However, ISPs have continuously raised concerns regarding the accuracy of correctly identifying offenders and the fact that cutting a user off is presuming guilt before a fair trial with minimal and potentially flawed evidence.

This topic continued to be covered for several months and was once again inflamed with the release of the Digital Britain Report which actually advised against a three strikes policy, much to the annoyance of the entertainment industry.

So where are we at now?

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Murdoch vs Google – biting the hand that feeds him?

Posted on Dec 02 2009 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on Murdoch vs Google – biting the hand that feeds him?

Last month Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, founder of News Corp which owns titles such as The Wall Street Journal, The Times and The Sun, announced plans to block Google from searching the company’s websites as he believes companies such as Google and Microsoft are “stealing” his stories for their own benefit.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

In his interview with Sky News Australia he stated “The people who simply just pick up everything and run with it – steal our stories, we say they steal our stories – they just take them. That’s Google, that’s Microsoft, that’s Ask.com, a whole lot of people … they shouldn’t have had it free all the time, and I think we’ve been asleep.”

He continued “There’s a doctrine called fair use which we believe could be challenged in the courts and barred altogether — but, you know, it’s OK. We’re getting a lot of advertising revenue, so we’ll take that slowly.”

But it’s not as one sided as Murdoch would have us believe. News Corp also benefits from its involvement with Google. Google is reported to deliver 100,000 clicks a minute to News Corps’ websites, that’s a lot of traffic to simply dismiss. Murdoch responded to this by questioning the quality of the traffic delivered by Google, stating that Google does not deliver loyal customers that would be willing to pay for his stories. “What’s the point of having someone come occasionally who likes a headline they see on Google?” he asked. “There’s not enough advertising in the world to make all the websites profitable. We’d rather have fewer people come to our website, but paying. Customers are very happy to pay for it when they buy a newspaper.”

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Mandelson – New master of the digital economy?

Posted on Nov 23 2009 by Darren Farnden | 2 Comments

Last month (here) we discussed Mandelson’s announcement at the ‘C&binet Conference’ regarding the tackling of illegal file sharers and his continued proposal of a three strikes system. These proposals have now progressed further with the release of the Digital Economy Bill.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

The bill covers a number of issues but the key features affecting ISPs and broadband users are as follows:

  1. 1. ISPs will be forced to provide written warnings to alleged illegal file sharers when alerted to do so by the copyright holders. Additionally, ISPs will be required to record how many warnings the accused customers have received and feed this back to the rights holders.
  2. 2.The Secretary of State (currently Mandelson) will be given new powers to update the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act in order to react to changes in technology more quickly. The powers will be exercised by statutory instrument rather than primary legislation which means although the proposals will need to be debated in the Houses of Parliament and will be subject to public consultation the MPs and Lords cannot block them.
  3. The Register: Filesharing laws to hit websites and newsgroups too
  4. 3. The use of orphan networks will be allowed where the rights holder cannot be found or identified.
  5. 4. The government will be given the power to reform and restructure Nominet, the body responsible for domain names in the UK. This follows recent board resignations.
  6. The Register: Mandelson to get Nominet reform powers
  7. 5. Ofcom will be assigned new duties to promote investment in the UK communications infrastructure and will be required to assess this every two years.

Alongside other ISPs, Entanet has voiced concerns over this policy for some time now but it appears that Mandelson has finally got his way – although the bill has not actually made it into law yet. Once the Digital Economy Bill is on the statute books ISPs will be forced to send written warnings to alleged copyright infringers at the request of the copyright holder. As expected the suspected users will be identified by the copyright holders using IP addresses from BitTorrent. The ISPs will then be required to record the number of warnings each suspected user receives and supply this information to the copyright holders. If the copyright holder wants further information on a particular persistent offender they will require a court order.

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