Broadband speed progress may be undone by ‘red herring’ BSG research

Yorkshire provider KC pokes its head above the parapet to criticise a report suggesting 19Mb broadband speeds will be all people need to see them through their next 10 years using the internet…

Broadband speeds in the UK are at risk of being held back by "unambitious" forecasts if the government takes them too seriously, according to one industry expert.

Sean Royce, a director at KC, East Yorkshire's main phone and broadband provider, warned British broadband may risk falling behind that of other countries if the government starts resting on its laurels in terms of what speeds UK homes can access.

He criticised a recent report by the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), which advises the government on broadband related issues, claiming in 10 years' time a typical British household will only need speeds of around 19Mb to do all they want to do online.

Royce reckons the prediction's a "red herring" and should be taken with a pinch of salt.

He said: "Broadband with speeds of 19Mb by 2023 is unambitious, and, if the UK is to remain an economic power on the global stage, we need the infrastructure in place to deliver this. There's a danger that, if the government uses 19Mb as a yardstick, the UK will fall further behind other developed economies.

"Also, from our experience, there's a clear distinction between the broadband capacity households actually need and the speeds they want to enjoy. It's not simply keeping up with the Joneses - it's a recognition that, across almost every aspect of our lives today, we rely on the internet.

"This reliance is only going to increase and people will continue to want faster and faster broadband speeds for peace of mind."

At present, the government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) unit, with the help of BT and local councils, is aiming to bring superfast fibre optic broadband - offering speeds of over 24Mb - to around 95% of the population by the end of 2017.

According to the BSG, only half of UK homes will demand speeds of 19Mb by 2023, while roughly one in 10 will need 30Mb and only the top 1% will require 35Mb-plus.

Virgin Media and other major UK providers with a superfast offering already offer speeds of up to 100Mb or more in some areas of the country, yet rural areas often struggle to get usable internet connections at all - let alone fast, reliable broadband.

According to Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, the average home broadband speed is currently 14.7Mb, but if you've upgraded to fibre optic you're likely to get speeds in excess of 30Mb depending on what package you have.

If you're considering switching to superfast broadband because your current package isn't fast enough for what you want to do online, you can find out whether fibre is available in your area using an Ofcom-accredited broadband comparison site like ours.

Click here for more about broadband speeds

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