/ Technology

Broadband speed limit planned for a fairer internet for all

Woman in field using laptop with cows

The UK’s biggest ISPs are planning to introduce a broadband speed limit in order to redistribute faster speeds to those who need it. Do you think broadband speeds should be more fairly distributed?

The divide between urban and rural broadband speeds has previously been a big talking point here on Which? Conversation. Although you might find speeds of 100Mb/s in the middle of London, venture out to the countryside, and you might be lucky to get 1Mb/s.

Which? Convo commenter Emmett told us last year that it took him an unbelievable 88 hours to download just one high-definition film, whereas this could take seconds in the capital. But Emmett, and others like him, might be in luck.

National broadband speed limit

The UK’s biggest ISPs – who currently offer superfast broadband to cities across the UK – today announced a joint scheme to bring faster speeds to rural areas. Together, they have proposed a national speed limit of 50Mb/s, with anyone able to achieve a faster connection to donate their bandwidth to worse off customers.

Not only do the providers blame a generation of Netflix streamers, they also reference the fact that each UK household now has an average of six internet-connected devices. But it’s not just mobiles, laptops and tablets that take up bandwidth, there’s also the so-called Internet of Things, where everything from fridges to cows (yes, cows!) are connected.

Jack Traven, head of the internet highways, said:

‘We have made great strides to bring superfast broadband to major cities across the country, but with 15 billion internet-connected devices predicted by 2015, we’ve concluded that there simply isn’t enough internet to go around.’

So how exactly will their proposals work? The ISPs have begun a trial program whereby customers who enjoy the fastest speeds are provided with free ‘speed capacitors’. These capacitors, which plug into your master landline socket, measure the speeds achieved and any flux above 50Mb/s is automatically rerouted to a partner customer who’s previously been unable to hit 3Mb/s. If you’re feeling generous, you can take part in the trial by getting in touch with your ISP.

Internet on a wing and a prayer

In a separate announcement, the ISPs unveiled their investment in the start-up company Cyrus which is trialing its big idea to bring the internet to those with limited-to-no access. Cyrus hopes to remove the barrier of cable installation, which can be both time-consuming and expensive. For example, it was estimated to cost one rural Lancashire community £1.8m when they endeavored to dig their own 40-mile broadband trench.

Cyrus’ solution is Project Pigeon. The company’s system uses carrier pigeons flying in relay to beam internet access to the earth below. As absurd as that might sound, Google has been testing a similar system using balloons on the edge of space. Cyrus’ head of innovation Kenlay Lass comments:

‘We are delighted to have Virgin’s backing in what we see as a revolutionary new way to deliver the internet to even the remotest homes.

‘There are many advantages to our system, not least the fact that it is a low-cost solution that also utilises the thousands of pigeons in our cities.’

Cyrus goes on to explain that any home in need of internet access need only put together their own electromagnetic antenna, using tinfoil and copper wire, which they can then simply hook up to their router. Not only does the created magnetic field interrupt the pigeons’ natural GPS to attract them to your home, it reportedly also has the added benefit of boosting your wi-fi signal by as much as 10x.

Project Pigeon is still years off, but the proposed broadband speed limit could be rolled out as soon as next year. That’s if it gets the go ahead from the Government, where it’s currently under consultation. What do you think of these plans to bring faster internet to rural areas?


I know a farmer who still uses dial-up, and he gets rather annoyed when people send him attachments. I expect he will be delighted by these proposals.

I never believe information published a few days before the end of the tax year. 🙂

Nice April fools joke, will easily chance out those who don’t read to the end.

I realised that something was amiss when Internet appeared without a capital in the title of the article.

It is Yanks who capitalise it… don’t think the Canadians
do it but do they?…. the ‘internet’ is much accepted like
an ordinary word.

I have just heard another April Fools joke on BBC News – we are now expected to eat 7 portions of fruit and veg a day!!! Will we all be moving into stables any time soon?

I am not sure that this story is a joke, Beryl. It’s probably better to eat a couple of extra portions of vegetables because fruit can contain a lot of sugar.

I’ve heard that for fast broadband we need is more fibre and less copper. 🙂

Brilliant Matt cartoon on the front page of today’s Daily Telegraph :- Man in pub holding newspaper with headline “5-a-day Not Enough”. Man says to barman “A pint of bitter – and put a cherry in it”.

…………..Classic one John found it on my iPad. Still laughing!

I don’t understand why pigeons are being used – unless they are surplus from the communications section of our armed forces (where they were much faster than broasdband in WWII). Swifts are faster – but only work in the summer due to migration.
Seriously though, I live in the sticks with slowish broadband – OK for most uses but the irritating timer wheel kicks in when watching i-player. I have solved the problem by using 6 telephone lines and upped my speed from 3 Mb/s to 18Mb/s – albeit at a cost. A half-hour programme on i-player can now be watched in just 5 minutes.

Just checked… the ‘internet’ is used as an ordinary word
like I’d sd… (in a legal tomb).

OK. I will let you bury ‘Internet’ in that legal tomb. 🙂

Which? Conversation has become a bit quiet recently so perhaps some levity is needed, though I preferred Patrick’s tale about the Marmite shortage in 2012.

Yup… maybe a scarcity of provocative ideas that need not be.

Hmmm. I’ll take two of the ‘speed capacitors’ please. My supplier of electronic components has never heard of them.

I think it is 1st April!