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Gigabit-capable broadband: What you need to know

Helen Larkin Blog, Fixed-Line, News, Broadband, Onecom, 5G

The government is planning to spend £5bn on rolling out gigabit-capable broadband to the most remote parts of the UK. Those eagle-eyed amongst you may notice their change in language from their initial ‘full-fibre’ broadband talk a couple of months ago, to the more all-encompassing ‘gigabit-capable’ broadband. This includes 5G and other gigabit-capable networks, alongside full-fibre broadband; making it ‘slightly’ more achievable to hit their 2025 target.

“We want everyone in the UK to benefit from world-class gigabit connectivity no matter where they live or work, so today Conservatives are announcing £5bn to ensure our rural communities benefit too,” said Nicky Morgan, secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on Twitter.

When will it happen?

Boris Johnson had originally said that investment in this technology is required to “improve the UK’s infrastructure and productivity” and is pushing for full rollout by 2025. The jury is still out on whether this is achievable, but it seems there is a big push to act fast.

Why is it required?

People are using more data-intensive streaming services, smart devices and video calls. With Ofcom announcing that average household data is up 26% on the previous year, this trend does not seem to be slowing and more data is definitely needed!

How will it benefit you?

If you are one of the many people in the UK currently commuting to work, the good news is remote working will become much easier. With increased speeds, business productivity will also rise.  Combined with the ease in which you will be able to download films, play online games or use streaming services – the benefits for most people should be broad.

With rural communities being prioritised, unleashing the economic potential of the countryside and ending the rural/urban divide, will be an exciting change for the country.

Where can you get the fastest internet?

The fastest broadband is currently limited with just 2.5 million premises in the UK connected to full-fibre broadband. The UK currently ranks well behind some other European nations including Spain, Lithuania and Latvia; where roughly half of home have access to the fastest connections.

What is full-fibre broadband?

There are 3 types of broadband connection, that link the local telephone exchange to your house:

  • ADSL uses copper cables to a street-level cabinet and onto the house
  • FTTC uses a faster fibre optic cable to the cabinet, and then copper cable onto the house
  • FTTP uses a fibre optic cable to connect to households without using any copper cable

With copper being part of the old infrastructure going to most homes. The newer fibre optic cable made from glass or plastic uses pulses of light to transmit data and is significantly faster.

And the rest?

It has been found that people don’t care how they are getting faster speeds, as long as they are actually getting them. This has widened the government’s pledge to incorporate other broadband solutions including:

5G: As 5G continues to roll-out across the UK, one of the first big consumer-facing applications will be 5G broadband. This replaces that ‘final mile’ physical connection with a wireless 5G network connection. The vast majority of these 5G networks will use largely the same kind of physical fibre connections as standard fixed broadband.

Gigabit faster technology: With Virgin Media boosting the speed of its cable network, it hopes to extend the 1Gbps speeds to its network of 15 million homes by 2021; thus, throwing down the gauntlet to competitors.

The future:

Gigabit-capable broadband will provide more reliable, resilient and future-proof connectivity, with fewer faults, more predictable consistent speeds and the ability to upgrade easily, therefore meeting the growing demands of future technology.