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Old 10-April-2003, 11:53
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Default How broad before you can call it broadband?

Make no mistake, today's ruling by the advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), concerning the definition of 'broadband' could have big repercussions for the UK's Internet industry.

The ruling highlights the confusion caused by a sector which has failed to come up with a consistent industry-wide definition of broadband that can be marketed to consumers.

This has been made worse still by shifting definitions and extreme marketing hype - a conflict between the technically possible and the somewhat far-fetched view of what broadband could deliver.

For its part, the made a judgement based on consumers' perception of broadband, rather than on a factual definition. For while it acknowledged that the cableco's 128Kbps service met industry definitions for broadband laid down by regulator Oftel (well, one of Oftel's definitions), it also ruled that because it considered most consumers would understand broadband to mean a service of upwards of 500Kbps, it concluded that the claim "broadband", without qualification, was "likely to mislead".

In one sense, NTL is right to be angered by the ASA's ruling. However, it's not just about NTL since the decision highlight the failings of the industry - and Government - to agree a definition of broadband.

Take the Government, for example. It recently changed its definition of broadband to "a generic term describing a range of technologies operating at various data transfer speeds" adding that if it's marketed as broadband, then it is broadband. Frankly, this is so broad it is meaningless and should be ditched immediately.

Oftel, on the other hand, has two different views on broadband. It regards broadband as a "higher bandwidth, always-on services, offering data rates of 128Kbps and above" - a view cited by NTL in its ASA case.

However, Oftel also rates NTL's 128k service as not being broadband.

According to one of its recent reports: "Oftel also includes NTL's 128k offering in the narrowband market. Although this is marketed as 'broadband', it has only some, not all, of the key characteristics of broadband. It is always on and allows use of the telephone at the same time but is not as fast as other services marketed as broadband."

It goes on: "Oftel's latest residential survey found that the main reason for getting broadband was faster access, mentioned by 57 per cent of respondents compared to only eight per cent who mentioned simultaneous voice calls and six per cent who mentioned permanent connection. Oftel believes that for this reason these services should be regarded as narrowband rather than broadband for the purposes of this review."

Funnily enough, The Register pointed out this contradiction more than a week ago and Oftel has still to reply to requests to clarify what it believes is, and is not, broadband.

If the regulator and Government can't agree, what hope is there for the rest of the industry? More to the point, what hope is there for ordinary punters who are being bombarded with confusing messages about broadband?

And there's more. We asked BT Wholesale for its definition of broadband.

"We don't have one," said a spokesman.

However, he did explain that BT regards its 512Kbps, always-on ADSL service as broadband - not, though, slower always-on ADSL services it plans to launch in the future.

AOL UK, on the other hand, regards broadband as being more than 400Kbps, always on and enabling punters to use the phone line at the same time.

"That's the consumers' view of broadband and, therefore, it's ours as well," said a spokesman.

"We need an acceptable definition - otherwise, how do people know what broadband is," he added.

Freeserve, which made the complaint against NTL, also agrees that speed is important when defining broadband.

A spokeswoman for the ISP told us: "There is a great deal of confusion all round. It's about time Oftel and the Government cleared up this uncertainty."

Telewest echoed these views: "Anything below 512Kbps simply doesn't live up to consumers' expectation and the hype surrounding broadband."

If nothing else, today's ruling by the ASA shows just how confusing this matter can be. However, it is up to the Government and/or the industry to come up with a workable definition for broadband. The confusion has to be cleared up for the sake of the mass-market, for nothing will damage their confidence more than signing up to a slow speed "broadband" service and being disappointed when it doesn't live up to their expectations.

One last thing,just to stir things up still further. While the debate over what is - and isn't - broadband rages on, there are, you know, some people who think broadband only starts from speeds starting at 1Mb...
from http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/22/30173.html

As long as they make it clear (by giving the actual upload/download speeds) I don't think it makes that much difference.,,. but I guess it would be nice if it had a proper definition,. some services could be called midband?

Sil
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Old 10-April-2003, 12:30
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As you say, make it clear, that's the key. We have enough confusion (lack of clarity) as it is.
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Old 11-April-2003, 00:44
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I have 128Kbps NTL which I call mini-broadband. At 15.00 a month, I think its wonderful.
Just recently they gave a free 3 month connection at 600 Kbps
and now I've elected not to take them up on it, I can't really see a lot of difference.
Frankly, I don't give rub what they call it as long as it works! billytee
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Old 18-April-2003, 18:26
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I'm on wightcable 10 a month at 128k

fast enough for me and the price is great.
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Old 18-April-2003, 21:40
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crankykick. Is that advertised as always on? If it is that's sounds great value.
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Old 19-April-2003, 11:34
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yeah I'm always on................LOL

Isle of Wight residents though and only in certain areas.

http://www.iowctc.co.uk/
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Old 19-April-2003, 11:39
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Well yes, I realised that it was local etc.
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Old 30-April-2003, 16:27
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Exclamation Oftel redefines broadband

From The Register
Oftel redefines broadband
By Tim Richardson
Posted: 30/04/2003 at 10:54 GMT

Oftel has a new definition for broadband - and about time too.

After recent ditherings in which it regarded services operating at speeds of 128kbit/s as both broadband and narrowband, the telecoms regulator has come off the fence.

According to a broadband market review published this week, Oftel proposes to redefine broadband Internet services as "always-on services which have a downstream capacity in excess of 256 kbits".

It had considered making the threshold as high as 300kbit/s or above but reasoned that "it is difficult to define a precise speed given swift technological changes which may allow these services to be delivered over lower speeds in the future".

So, in what appears to be a common sense move, the regulator decided to define the boundary between narrowband and broadband on the basis of the speeds of existing products in the UK market.

"Given the availability of a 256kbit/s broadband internet access product from Tiscali, the Director [of Telecoms] currently considers that it is appropriate to define broadband internet access at speeds in excess of 256kbit/s since the products currently available above this speed will allow different content such as streaming video to be delivered," the regulator says.

And in a move that shows a degree of flexibility on the regulator's part, it has also accepted that this definition is likely to change in the future "as new Internet access services of different speeds are created and as new broadband content develops".

So, why has it taken so long for the regulator to take a lead on the subject? Here's what the report says: "In June 2002 the available Internet access services were at 128 kbits/sec (and below) and 512 k/bit/sec (and above). The Director chose not to specify more precisely the boundary for the start of broadband services within this range, and for the purposes of that Direction it did not need to do so.

"However, since then the services provided or planned to be provided have changed slightly. In particular, the Director is aware of services or planned services at 150 kbit/sec and 256 kbit/sec. These new services have required Oftel to be more specific about the boundary for broadband services between 128 and 512 kbit/sec."

This doesn't look like good news for NTL, which is adamant that its 128 kbit/s (and soon-to-be 150 kbit/s) always-on service is broadband.

So will Oftel delete from its official figures all those services below 256 kbit/s? Not on your Nelly.

A spokesman for the regulator told us that, for statistical purposes, Oftel will still count as broadband all services that are 128 kbit/s and above, so that the UK's broadband performance can be compared to other European countries on a "like for like basis". What's that saying about lies, damn lies and...?
So that all clear then isn't it. Er, well no!
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Old 01-May-2003, 20:21
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Good post Gem, so, if i'm paying NTL eighteen pound a month for broadband that is'nt broadband, where do you think I stand?
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Old 01-May-2003, 21:13
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Exactly where you are now!
The fact that they may have to change it's name does not mean that the cost will come down. NTL will argue that they have priced the product, whatever it may be called. In other words, heads they win and tales you lose. I think there is a special 'law' called 'somethings' law!
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Old 02-May-2003, 09:59
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hmmm I'm insterested in the "somethings Law" do you have any information on it?

~Mem
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Old 02-May-2003, 10:58
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Does this mean I cant brag about my phat pipe anymore?

Hm, i was just gettin uged to the idea that i was on broadband now it seems i have thinband.

I also have the NTL128K (Which is now 150K btw) and im with Bittlytee - I really dont give a stuff what they call it, its always on and its a great service for the price.
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Old 02-May-2003, 11:42
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At the end of the day what counts Roosta is whether you are satisfied.

Memfis, it's called 'sod's law'.
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Old 02-May-2003, 12:41
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Im more than satisfied

Anyway, is 'sods law' something like this?

1. If anything can go wrong, it will.
2. If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the first one to go wrong.
3. If anything just cannot go wrong, it will anyway.
4. If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which something can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop.
5. Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.
6. If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
7. Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.


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Old 02-May-2003, 16:31
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I think that will do nicely Roosta.

Meant to ask, Location: is that where you are or is that where you have been sent!
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Last edited by gem; 02-May-2003 at 16:33.
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