BT’s announcement that a further 303 exchanges will be upgraded to the company’s hybrid fibre-copper superfast broadband is welcome news indeed for the future of broadband in the UK. However Viatel, a business communications expert, is advising organisations not to get carried away with the hype as 60 percent of the country will still have to wait before their exchanges are enabled. Worse, just because an exchange is enabled it does not follow that all or even a majority of the many street cabinets within that serving exchange area will be immediately upgraded making these superfast broadband services available to end users.
Furthermore, Viatel notes that for businesses, hybrid Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) or even full fibre ‘superband’ Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) services, without sufficient guarantees on reliability and the availability of Quality of Service (QoS), will struggle to run delay-sensitive applications like voice and video. Viatel works closely with BT and is confident these issues will all be overcome and business focused products and services will be obtainable in the future, but national or even patchy local availability will be a problem for some time to come.
“At last Broadband availability is a key issue in this year’s election and this demonstrates a never before seen level of commitment and understanding from all the main political parties of the communication issues faced by businesses today. But, critics have been right to question how the next Government will actually bring superfast speeds to the whole country. The fact that BT has announced the next stage of its next-generation upgrade programme doesn’t change this,” said Steve Powell, product manager for connectivity at Viatel. “We can now see the shape of new superfast deployments and the business requirements of line reliability and Quality of Service. However current lack of availability to businesses up and down the country could cause headaches as organisations look to access more bandwidth in order to support more and more bandwidth hungry and mission critical applications over these connections.”
Viatel points out that while QoS will be available on these networks in the future to support real time applications, at present this is not the case, and all businesses need to be aware that speed is not the only key factor to consider.
“Speed is one thing, but it should not be forgotten that all of these new services are to be created on massively shared networks, so just as crucial is the ability to prioritise different types of traffic or there could be bottlenecks on the network, delays and dropped calls,” continued Powell. “Quality of Service will help prevent this by, for example, ensuring that voice traffic will be given priority over email and web access. Businesses that run these applications without QoS could see some serious detrimental effects.”