There is a new breed of superfast broadband approaching which will be welcome news to the majority of the British public that are currently stuck with a maximum top speed of 8Mbps.
It is undeniable that Broadband take-up in the UK has been huge; the majority of the public now access the Internet via a broadband connection rather than a conventional dial up modem. A few weeks back I talked about broadband packages which made Internet access either free or incredibly cheap meaning that even occasional Internet users would be financially better off with a broadband connection.
Although the prices have been tumbling, a ceiling limit on the speeds obtainable has been reached and this needs to be broken through; although 8Mbps is a comfortable speed which will suit the majority of users we are lagging well behind many other parts of the world. A limited number of users in built up areas in Japan for example are currently able to receive blisteringly fast 1000Mbps speeds.
At present, the UK broadband provider for choice when it comes to the speed of connection is Virgin Media who have been offering 20Mbps for years now and have just introduced 50Mbps across the UK. Clearly the speed difference between the Virgin offering and standard ADSL which comes through your conventional phone line is huge.
The difference in speed is due to the type of cable employed for carrying the signal. Virgin uses a relatively new and advanced fibre optic system – this explains why you do have to live in a Virgin cabled area (formally Telewest and NTL) to receive the service. Other broadband products transmitted through your conventional phone line rely on old copper cables; these were originally designed for carrying voice calls and as such there is a limit to the speed that data can be transmitted along them.
Although 50Mbps will be more than enough for the majority of Internet users, Virgin are currently trialling a 200Mbps broadband service in Kent. If the service were to be unveiled across the UK it would give Virgin Media customers one of the fastest broadband services in the world.
Unfortunately only 12.6 million homes are in a Virgin Media cabled area which is why many have to ADSL broadband though their conventional phone line. In order to increase the speeds available to these users BT is currently upgrading exchanges across the UK to ADSL 2+ which will offer up to 20Mbps. Although Torbay hasn’t yet been switched over the exchanges should be upgraded by summer of next year which will result in an approximate doubling of speed at, most likely, no extra cost.
After the ADSL 2+ rollout it would be fair to say that we would have pretty much reached the theoretical maximum speed that you can transfer data down a copper cable. In order to overcome this, BT has began rolling out its own fibre optic broadband across the country however current plans will seen only 40% of UK households covered by 2012 and it is unlikely that they will cover Torbay in this initial phase.
At present, your best bet for the fastest broadband in Torbay is to check if you are in a Virgin covered area (check availability at www.virginmedia.com). Alternatively, if you are not covered, sit back and wait for the ADSL 2+ rollout; unfortunately this will more than likely have to suffice until we have a nationwide rollout of fibre optic technology across the UK.
About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.