Happy Birthday Broadband – 10 years today!

Today is the tenth birthday of broadband in the UK, which was first introduced to Britain ten years ago, on 31 March, 2000. Since then, it has seen explosive growth that has transformed the country, socially, economically and politically.

Commented Chris Goswami, director of product management at Openwave: “Over the past decade, we’ve become completely and utterly dependent on broadband internet. It’s created opportunities and paradigms of activity that simply didn’t exist a few years ago and is now essential to education, work and entertainment. In essence, broadband is now the fourth utility, after water, gas, and electricity, and it would be impossible to imagine a world without it.”

In the UK, fixed broadband penetration is higher than most of our western European counterparts. But it is a market that’s expanding in all regions, particularly in the mobile sector. Over the next couple of years, mobile broadband is set to soar, and with the introduction of devices like the iPad, it will soon become more widespread than its traditional counterpart.

However, its rapid growth has seen the market almost reach saturation point, while broadband networks are starting to hit capacity problems. The future is not going to be completely rosy for the broadband generation, observed Goswami: “We are close to saturation point and the pipes are in danger of bursting. While broadband may have become ubiquitous, the systems that deliver it were not designed to support the kind of capacity businesses and consumers are now demanding.

“Aside from the obvious growth in the number of broadband-enabled devices, the content accessed by them is becoming richer and heavier. And as if that weren’t enough, mobile broadband will soon extend to devices beyond phones, BlackBerrys, netbooks and laptops.

“In order to avoid a broadband blackout, network operators must take action quickly,” Goswami remarked. “They should look further into managed services, outsourcing of core network operations, and infrastructure sharing to enable network optimization while introducing tiered pricing and consumption-based charging models will help monitor, limit and control access and network traffic.”