Apr 13 2008

Broadband upgrade – a bit of context

Published by at 3:23 pm under Guernsey News,Technology

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Following on from my previous blog post, about the continuing delays with the broadband upgrade in Guernsey, I have just received an email from C&W in which they give a bit of context about the upgrade, why they have made some of the choices they have and a bit of background of the commitment from C&W to the telecoms infrastructure of the island.

With regard to your technical questions, you are correct that the new faster services will be based on the ADSL standard.  Rather than being an out of date technology, in our experience standard ADSL is far less susceptible to noise and interference than either ADSL 2 or ADSL 2+ at speeds of up to 8Mb/s.  Both ADSL2 and ADSL 2+ are also extremely prone to problems arising from variations in wiring quality, and for these reasons we have opted to use standard ADSL as it offers a more stable service.  However the equipment that we have now installed is capable of supporting both ADSL2 and ADSL2+ in future.

It’s good to know that at some undetermined point in the future we might possibly get ADSL2 or ADSL2+.  However, my personal opinion is that I would rather have 12Mb/s or 24Mb/s that is occasionally dropped to a lower speed because of quality.   Is your average home user really going to know that they’re not getting full speed.  As a result of contention ratios you’re not always going to be getting 8Mb/s on ADSL anyway, so does it really matter?

The current project is a proactive £2.5 million investment by Cable & Wireless, as part of our ongoing plan to provide faster broadband services in the Bailiwick. That level of investment hopefully provides you with some idea of the scale of cost involved in providing broadband services in a market of just 24,000 households.  Comparisons with the UK, where the market is a 1,000 times larger, are often misleading. 

I’m not going to argue that these numbers sound impressive but I wonder how they stack up against the C&W annual profits?  And what is the annual investment per-capita in Guernsey compared with the UK?  I’ve no doubt that there are economies of scale coming into play but it would be interesting to find out.

The entry level price for broadband in Guernsey is just £14.99, and when you also consider that many UK broadband services require a standard BT line, which is around 50% more expensive than the local exchange line rental (£7.99 per month compared to £12.50 per month), then hopefully you can begin to see the overall cost this into context. 

These numbers are a little miss-leading.  For entry level broadband from BT is £15.99 (not including any current offers) but if you bring the C&W entry level plan up to the same level as the BT one it shifts the Guernsey one up to £19.49.  Also, the line rental from BT is £10.50 and not £12.50.   With these numbers I make it £26.49 for 8Mb/s from BT and £26.99 for 1Mb/s from C&W – I know which I would prefer!

Since 2001 Cable & Wireless has invested more than £35 million into capital projects in Guernsey as part of our commitment to improving the Bailiwick’s telecommunications infrastructure.  

Would C&W care to share with us what this money has been spent on?  Also, what real effects of this can the average end customer see?  Because to be quite honest all I can see is that I’ve still just got a basic landline, a plain old 2.5G mobile phone and I’m still stuck in the dark ages with 1Mb/s broadband.  I fail to see where the £35 million has been of benefit to me.

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