first became available in the UK in the early 1990’s, and has had a significant impact on the UK economy. The UK leads the European Union with the most number of businesses that sell products and services online. However, the way that individuals and businesses access the internet has changed dramatically in recent years. In the years since narrowband or ‘dial-up’ was first introduced to the UK, technology has continually evolved to provide faster and more reliable access to the internet.
Ninety nine percent of individuals and businesses in the UK already have access to ‘first generation’ (ADSL) broadband from BT which delivers speeds of up to 8Mbps. This form of internet access has been predominantly delivered over copper wires. Now, BT is rolling out ‘next generation broadband’ (NGB) to UK homes and businesses. The switchover should hopefully be completed by 2015 at the latest.
Next generation broadband or Twenty First Century Network (21CN) is the term used to describe both fast and super-fast broadband. Next generation network (NGN) is the network transformation programme introduced by BT to transform the nation’s telephone network from the present AXE/System X Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to an Internet Protocol (IP) system. In addition to this, BT has also increased Ethernet availability, to ensure that users have the widest and most flexible choices available in today’s marketplace. The switch to an Internet Protocol (IP) system has meant that the network is now capable of delivering many additional services like on-demand interactive TV services.
So what do these new technologies mean and what improvements will they bring?
BT has deploying advanced copper ‘ADSL2+’ technology, to provide UK homes and businesses with broadband speeds of up to 20Mbps.
BT has also introduced super-fast broadband. Super-fast broadband is the term BT uses to describe broadband delivered over fibre-optic cables. This can be delivered in two ways: fibre to the cabinet (FTTC), or fibre to the premises (FTTP). FTTC uses fibre cables throughout the network right up to the street cabinet, and then uses copper wires to connect each premise. It provides download speeds of up to 40Mbps and upload speeds of up to 15Mbps. FTTP means fibre cables run right to the door of each house or business. It provides download speeds of up to 100Mbps and upload speeds of up to 30Mbps. These faster speeds enable users to enjoy benefits such as downloading a music track in about two seconds or a feature length HD movie in less than 10 minutes.
BT hopes to make super-fast broadband available to two thirds of UK homes and businesses by 2015, using a combination of FTTC and FTTP. FTTC is being deployed to the majority of homes and businesses, but there are also plans to deliver FTTP to more than one quarter of those included in the roll-out. Unfortunately FTTP is more expensive to deploy and more difficult to roll out, so the majority of households will have to be satisfied with FTTC, for the time being at least.
BT also includes Ethernet services under the heading of NGB because it provides fast, secure and high capacity networks for businesses. It is a data service primarily used by businesses to create their own private networks. It can run over copper or fibre, providing access at speeds from 1Mbps to 10Mbps and 10Mbps, 100Mbps and 1Gbps respectively.