Why Having a Long Line is Bad News for Broadband? - latest tech tips

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Why Having a Long Line is Bad News for Broadband?

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Having lived in and enjoyed a beautiful rural area for some years now, I feel it’s a little churlish of me to complain about my life. I am, however, going to. Because we here in the country feel we are being somewhat overlooked in the space race for broadband supremacy.

Why? Because the ultimate deciding factor in broadband speed, until you can install fiber optic cables absolutely everywhere that is, is the distance your home is from the exchange sending out the signal. In other words: how long the cable is, between you and the transmitter.

Online statisticians rather optimistically call this “the last mile” – i.e. how far a signal must travel down inferior cabling before it ends up in your router, I say inferior because the cabling going out to the exchange is increasingly fiber optic,. Or at least if it isn’t it will be in the near future. Out of the exchange, though, you have a bunch of much smaller cables, which radiate to streets and individual houses. 

And here’s the problem. If you want broadband speeds of more than 2 Mbps, then you need to be within 4km of the exchange. So a cable longer than 4km is simply incapable of delivering a speed sufficient to (for example) shop online; watch live streamed programming and content; or even work. As business download speeds get bigger and better, it’s assumed that subcontractors and outsourced employees enjoy the same facility.

If they don’t, accessing cloud based business software can become a problem.
I had this experience myself a couple of years ago, when I first set up a business based out of my home. At the time our broadband speed was less than 1 Mbps, and I found it very hard to use the internet as I need to.

Now, fortunately, we are able to enjoy streamed content and surf to an average speed of around 4 Mbps.But surprisingly, many people in the UK can’t – and this applies not only to very rural areas but to some pretty urban ones as well. Because. As noted above, it’s all down to the length of that cable. Government targets insist that every UK home will have access to 2 Mbps download speeds by the end of 2012.

And with a great deal of investment both on the part of the Government and by private industry, it looks like the availability of better quality broadband will become a reality this year. Though there are still a number of questions left to ask. Currently just below 1 percent of UK homes can’t get any broadband at all.

And if you live away from a city, your broadband speed is officially described as “slow” no matter where in the country you are. In most cases, it’s all down to logistics. Laying miles of cable to reach a rural area might not pay off in the same way that laying miles of cable around a city does. Here’s hoping the revolution comes regardless…

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Olivia is a technology writer working with http://www.cable.co.uk – Cable are an OFCOM accredited independent broadband, telephone and television comparison service which offers a number of comparison services including one for broadband deals.

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