Are broadband speeds on the rise?

Many providers will be increasing their broadband speeds from 100Mbps to 120Mbps at the start of 2012, with an estimated completion date in mid-2013. The increase will be really good for customers in the UK, who are looking for faster internet speeds for both personal and business use. Faster speeds could boost the economy, as well as change the way households and businesses use the internet.

Giving access to a super-fast internet is all part of building a newer and improved economy in the UK. The government alone has set goals to expand broadband speeds within the next three years. By the end of 2015, investors predict fibre optic broadband will be available to two-thirds of the UK. Many providers are doing their part to support the economy, understanding that the internet is such an essential part of the everyday lives of their consumers. People are using the web to assist them in every aspect of their lives these days, so having a fast and reliable internet connection is important now more than ever.

Investors will be bringing even faster speeds to the UK. It is thought that around 300Mbps speeds will become available in limited locations within the next few years. Currently, many providers are trying to keep up with these investors by doubling their speeds, allowing customers to upgrade from 10 Mbps to 20Mbps. Those who subscribe to their highest speeds of 30Mbps will be upgraded to 60Mbps. Some providers aim to roll out the changes free of charge, so customers may be pleasantly surprised by the change in their broadband speed! Users will be able to benefit from streaming television, movies and music twice as fast as before.

An example of some optical fibre internet cablesThe increase is good news for the UK, which currently ranks somewhere between 10th and 40th globally in terms of average broadband speeds – depending upon where you get your figures. Once upgrades are complete, the average UK broadband speed could increase to around 16.46Mbps, a massive download speed increase!

Consumers will be gaining this speed boost at the most opportune time, since the highly popular Netflix, this week launched its service in the UK. Such services require high bandwidth speeds and will undoubtedly attract large numbers of costumers, all of whom will need super-fast internet to watch their favourite movies and television shows.

Broadband speeds – are you getting what you pay for?

The comparison site uSwitch recently did a study into UK broadband speeds, and found that during peak times, internet speeds were on average 35% lower, than in off peak times.

The research was based on two million download tests, concluded that during peak surfing times, which are between 7 and 9 in the evening, speeds were the slowest than at any other time of the day. If you want super fast speeds, it is recommended that you go on between 2 and 3 in the morning.

The time differences were more/less extreme, depending on the region of the country. The average broadband speed in the UK is 6.2mbps at peak times and 9.6mbps in the early hours of the morning. However, this is much more extreme for some regions. For example, the difference in Weston-super-Mare was 64%! At off-peak speeds were around 9.5mbps, whilst at peak times they were just 3.4mbps, a massive difference.

Wadebridge, (Cornwall) saw a 48% difference in speeds, with an average of 4.1mbps at off-peak times and just 2.1mbps during peak times.

Broadband is becoming ever more important in our digital, globalised world, and such variation is seen as unacceptable by many in modern times. Broadband is very important for business, as well as luxuries, such as on-demand TV, and even potentially internet TVs.

Global broadband connections map

A connected world - super fast broadband, brought about by fiber optic connections has revolutionised telecommunications

Ofcom says that on average, UK consumers download around 17 gigabytes of data every month using their home connection. That is a fair amount, and to put the speed differences into context, were this all to be downloaded at off-peak times in Weston-super-Mare, it would take around 4 hours to download that data at off peak times, however it would take around 13 hours to download at peak times, a staggering difference!

Critics have said that consumers are being misled by the maximum speeds that internet service provides love to advertise, even though it is rare that anyone should ever get them. Because of this, as of April 2012, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) will no longer allow firms to advertise maximum speeds unless at lease 10% of their users receive them.

For more information check out this article: Broadband speeds fall 35% at peak times.

This article is about the UK, but I am sure that it is the same all over the world.

What do you think, is this fair, or are we, the consumer, getting ripped off?

If Velcro wasn’t a rip off, broadband certainly is! Sorry, I couldn’t help it 😉

Is paying for music a thing of the past?

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With the availability of streaming music services like Pandora, Spotify, and Rdio all available for free and unlimited access, there are fewer people than ever actually paying for their music. According to a recent article on TechCrunch, Tom Conrad, the CTO of Pandora, said that about 50 percent of Americans don’t pay anything for music while another 40 percent only pay $15 a year for it.

If you were to walk into a big retail shop ten years ago, one of the biggest sections in the electronic media department would have been a massive collection of compact discs. Today with the likes of iPhone, and Android, CD’s have made technologies like compact discs seem old and obsolete technologies of the past.

The biggest culprit to the recording industry has been the proliferation of bit torrents and peer-to-peer piracy software. According to Torrent Freak, the Canadian Broadband Management Company says that forty percent of all internet traffic in North America comes from either Netflix or Bit Torrent. While the original intention of this sharing software was to make it easier for business to transfer important files, most of the traffic from it today comes from the illegal trade of music, television shows, and movies.

While services like Pandora, Spotify, and Rhapsody have a paid-premium option available, their free services are so convenient that there is no real reason to purchase them. Unless you want a completely advertising-free experience or simply want an unlimited data cap on what you can access per a week, the free versions of these programs work just as well and include almost all of the features. Ironically, the only companies that actually have to purchase these plans are the small retail stores that are selling you the music.

Spotify's LogoThe RIAA is having an abysmal time selling digital copies of singles and albums to consumers. Not only are the versions that are available online cheaper and make less money, they are also much easier to steal, copy, and distribute illegally over the internet. Google is partially to blame for this widespread availability of illegally traded music.

According to an article in the Daily Mail, if you type in your favourite artist into a Google search, several unauthorized and pirated versions of the song will show up available for stream or download. While Google is not implicitly to blame for this, they are turning a blind eye to the practice by ranking them higher in search results.

The person who is most responsible for the digitisation of music is the late Steve Jobs. When the iPod first appeared on the market, Steve spearheaded the movement to make iTunes the ultimate way to purchase music online. In an article in the Inquirer, David Hughes (head of technology at the RIAA) claimed that Steve was a hypocrite for claiming to be a spiritual leader but not putting enough piracy protection on digital downloads.

There is no turning back from the digital way of selling and listening to music. We have come too far in our technological advances and reverting to older methods such as CD’s and cassettes would seriously hamper our tech advances.

The music industry will need to find new ways to make income such as advertising, product placement, and incorporation in order to continue to make a profit… or it could just go away and make music an art form.