Chasing the Dragons
Broadband speed in Britain is like today’s Formula One qualifying in Suzuka. Over in Japan, the F1 cars tried to set ever faster speeds on one of the world’s most demanding circuits. Five drivers have crashed already, one is in hospital with a leg wound, and the race hasn’t even started.
This is only to be expected when all practice sessions had been washed out and races haven’t been staged here for a couple of years while the track was “updated.” These improvements would appear to be largely cosmetic to a circuit built in 1962 by Honda, for motorcycle races rather than modern F1 cars. It is tight, twisty, and action is close to the barriers all around the circuit, with only old-fashioned, narrow gravel traps at the corners to slow a car from 200mph.
Meanwhile in Britain, our current standing in broadband speed languishes in 25th place, a long way behind dragon economies such as Latvia, Slovenia, and Romania. In a similar predicament are counties with British Commonwealth or Empire links including Canada and Australia, presumably because they suffer from the same problem as the UK. Our infrastructure, like Suzuka’s, was built for a different world and from the wrong materials.
Instead of fibre and cable, which will be reaching 1Gbps by 2012 in South Korea, we are stuck with aluminium and copper. Global average speeds at 4.75Mbps downloading are higher than the UK’s; Korea’s is currently ten times faster already.
Our own in-house ADSL line usually exceeds the download average, but we struggle to get more than 75% of the 1.3Mbps average global uploading even though we are relatively close to the telephone exchange and our lines fairly quiet. BT still plans to get a 24Mbps service across the country, which from our experience most households will find is a speed impossible to achieve.
But we are the lucky ones: 30 percent of the UK still hasn’t got broadband. They have yet to experience the joys of social networking sites, choppy, blocky iTunes video, and sharing photos and music. Which on reflection, might not be a bad thing anyway.
Also in This Series
- What Trick, What Device, What Starting-Hole… · May 2012
- Do Androids Dream? · April 2012
- Our Macs Are Under Attack · March 2012
- The Best and Worst Christmas Presents · February 2012
- The Best Use for a Kindle · January 2012
- It’s Got No Blinking Light · January 2012
- Box-Shifting Causes Migration · December 2011
- The Best Thing About the iPhone 4S and How to Cope in Clink · December 2011
- Death of a Salesman · November 2011
- Complete Archive