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?