Tiscali CEO says spotlight needs to shift from speed to bandwidth

February 22, 2016

Tiscali currently has 55% coverage of the UK households with its unbundled network, just one of the scraps to surface of an interview Mary Turner, who is the CEO of Tiscali UK, has provided to Silicon.com.

This may perhaps bewilder several people as many presume speed is bandwidth. The speed is referring to the fundamental connection to the telephone exchange and it was just above four years ago that 1Mbps connections were being trialled for home users.

With unbundled lines now providing connections speeds up to 24Mbps, dependent on provider and line length, and BT Wholesale offering up to 8Mbps since 2006, things have progressed. The bandwidth appears in terms of how much of the backhaul capacity from the exchange out to the Internet is allocated to each user. The amount differs from provider to provider but almost certainly has altered very little over the years, rates of 20 to 40Kbps (Kilo bits per second) are regular.

This allocation represents what you would get speed wise if everyone was vigorously using the capacity simultaneously and is used in financial plan calculations to establish the cost of a package. For products based around a BT IPstream solution, the costs are practically the same for all providers so if one can offer unlimited access for £14 when others are only offering 3GB it typically indicates higher contention .

So what Mary Turner refers to is the challenge to boost this allocation to a figure that will allow people to take up the multi-media options offered on the Internet. To say the next generation are the ones who are going to download video, stream soaps etc is perhaps dated as video over a broadband connection is steadfastly with us.

Where things collapse is the cost of providing capacity. Mary Turner refers to the Tiscali core network running at only 10% of capacity and a strong hold on fibre into the exchange from BT being the concern for the unbundled networks and the elevated cost of IPstream in other parts of the country. The satire is IPstream was reserved at a deliberate price margin above unbundled and Datastream connections to increase competition which has worked for 50 to 70% of households.

Perhaps one solution to the current wave of publicity complaining about people paying for an up to 8Mbps but feeling they should have a reduction in price if they get less than half this speed could be resolved by shifting how broadband was sold from headline speeds to the allocated bandwidth per user. £19.99 for a 30Kbps assured speed, £29.99 for 75Kbps and so on, at any one time people would probably see speeds well in excess of these figures but would know at busy times by paying more they get a bigger slice of the pie.


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