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On 28th July, 2009, UK government regulator Ofcom has stated that up to 1/5th of UK broadband customers who pay for broadband speeds of 8 mega bites per second do not receive the connection they pay for. Providers AOL, BT and O2 have been criticised for providing poor coverage and speeds to its customers, whereas newcomers such as Virgin and TalkTalk have been praised for matching download speeds with advertised expectations. So what exactly is broadband and what can we expect from it in the future?
Internet broadband by definition is a high data rate Internet connection that is typically contrasted to dial-up web access. Dial-up access was limited to a data transfer of 56 kilobites per second, which with the development of the Internet during the ‘dot com’ boom caused frustration. Definitions of broadband vary, with technologically advanced countries such as the US defining it as any connection above 768 kbites a second and more broad international organizations such as the OECD wanting only 256 Kbites a second to satisfy their criteria. Broadband connections are advantageous to the user as they no longer have to dial up and connect to the Internet, are much faster in loading pages while surfing the web or downloading, and remain connected at all times for convenience. The OECD now consider ‘broadband penetration’ to be an economic indicator. The UK government has declared that it would like all its citizens to have access to a broadband connection by 2012.
Who uses the Internet now?
The collective European Union leads the world in number of Internet and broadband users with some 300,000 million people online. With a similar number of citizens online, China comes second, although this makes up a much small percentage of its population, only 22.4%; 74.7% of Americans were online. Less prosperous countries economically have the least web users as a percentage of their population, for example only 7.1% of Indians and 6.8% of Nigerians. Analysts believe that the Internet can be an important educational tool and international bodies such as the OECD encourage its adoption across the world.
What is the future for Broadband?
Fibre optic broadband appears to be the next stage in broadband development although most national governments may be unwilling to fund the infrastructural alterations that they require. Fibre optic cables can deliver speeds of up to 100Mbps and are faster than conventional broadband with regards to Internet uploads.
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