Wednesday, June 24, 2009

British broadband deployment strategy stuck in the self limiting box of DSL

When it comes to ensuring universal broadband access for its citizens, the biggest challenge facing the Brits is thinking outside of box of DSL as this Telegraph story today illustrates.

The UK government is bumbling by setting the bar way too low (prescribing a minimum download speed of 2Mbs) and basing its broadband deployment strategy on DSL over copper, a technology intended to serve only as an interim solution from the 1990s and to the middle of the current decade until fiber optic to the premises is build out. It's a vastly underpowered and arguably obsolete technology that itself is responsible for the formation of gaping broadband "black spots" as they are called in Britian. That's because DSL signals attenuate and quickly fade not far from central telephone exchanges, meaning those just a few miles away are left without service.

Our friends across the Big Pond should consult with American broadband experts like Tim Nulty, who is working to bring fiber to the premises in that part of the U.S. known -- ironically -- as New England. Nulty served as director of a publicly owned broadband system serving the city of Burlington, Vermont and now runs ValleyFiber, a nonprofit organization focused on bringing municipal fiber to nearly two dozen Vermont towns.

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