Faster broadband does not mean better broadband. So say Ofcom and Actual Experience, who provided the supporting data for Ofcom’s triennial State-of-the-Nation report on Digital Britain. In fact, 70 per cent of British homes will not experience better broadband even if they had 1000 times faster broadband.
“It’s completely counter intuitive” Sky News host, Martin Stanford, barked, “more is better, what’s the logic?” You can watch the interview here.
He asked me to explain, live to 118 countries and 107 million viewers, on Saturday 13th December.
I needed to separate internet quality and broadband speed.
First, quality. We all recognise poor internet quality when it happens. YouTube buffers, Skype falters, you can’t bank on being able to bank, navigation stops. On the other hand, good internet quality would mean everything works, all day, everyday, reliably, consistently.
Sadly, very few of us experience good internet quality.
But here’s the rub.
Increasing broadband speed will not improve internet quality.
What! I hear you shout… bear with me, and read on.
Imagine I gave you, dear reader, a supercar capable of at least 200mph. You will no doubt be surprised at my generosity, but with a sinking heart you also know that it won’t reduce your commute time. Or the time it takes to pick your kids up from school. And you know this is because the limiting factors are the traffic, traffic jams, road works, pot holes and junctions on the way. You simply can’t use the super-fast supercar to anywhere near its full potential.
Your internet service suffers from the same problem. The journey from your laptop or phone to your online bank is in fact via a long chain of digital technologies and businesses, a complex series of internet roads and junctions. Your superfast broadband is merely one of these, and you can’t use it to its full potential because of the digital pot holes, digital roadworks and digital traffic jams elsewhere on your journey to your online bank. At least, that’s the case for a staggering 70 per cent of British homes.
Happily, there is something that you as a consumer can do, but I will discuss this my next post.