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Growth In Broadband Connections Surprises Many

New figures recently released have shown significant growth in UK broadband connections despite the recession.

The level of growth has surprised many industry officials and confirms that the recession has not hit the broadband sector quite as hard as other sectors such as the car industry.

It has been widely reported how during the recession Brits have opted to cut back on food bills and entertainment rather than their broadband connection. Therefore the new figures are not a complete shock, however, the level of new broadband connections has still been surprising.

The research by Point Topic found there had been around 445,000 new broadband connections in the UK in the first half of this year. Officials had originally predicted that there would be 100,000 fewer connections than this.
Predictions have now been made for the future with 23 million broadband connections expected in the UK by 2013. However, as encouraging as this is, it is still thought that there will be around 6.5 million homes that do not have a broadband connection by 2014.

This is in contrast with the government’s Digital Britain proposals which aim to provide all UK homes with at least 2Mbps broadband speeds by 2012.

Zen Tops Which? Broadband Best Buy Survey

Broadband provider Zen Internet has come out top on a recent broadband ‘Best Buy’ survey conducted by Which? magazine.

The ISP was awarded five out of five for speed, reliability and customer service and scored an overall total of 87%.

It was closely followed by the likes of O2 Broadband with 85% and Be Broadband with 80%.

It is not the first time that Zen Internet has come out on top in the magazine poll either. For the past four years Zen has come first in many broadband categories.

However, compared to other broadband deals available from its rivals, the company doesn’t offer the best value for money. This meant it only scored three out of five for value for money.

The results, published in the Times newspaper included a quote from the survey findings which said: “For most Which? Members, Zen’s marvellous customer support, reliable connection and willingness to go ‘the extra mile’ to resolve problems are worth paying more for”.

Zen was also commended on its provision of one month broadband contracts which allow customers the flexibility to cancel their broadband service after just one month. Such contracts are also offered by AOL Broadband.

In the survey the UK’s biggest broadband ISP’s scored less than 60%. The companies included the likes of BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, and Tiscali.

Customers not happy with their existing supplier are advised to consider switching broadband provider where significant savings can be made.

50p Broadband Tax Plan Could Be Scrapped

Plans unveiled in the Digital Britiain report for a 50p broadband tax could yet be scrapped following a week of mixed messages from Government officials.

The proposed 50p per month broadband tax to be levied on every UK home with a landline was put forward to help fund the roll out of next generation broadband across the UK and in particular, to ensure each UK home had access to at least 2Mb broadband speeds.

Since the publication of the plans, there has been much debate surrounding whether the tax raised would be anywhere near enough to fund the project.

There has also been an angry reaction from consumers who naturally do not wish to have to pay another tax.

Such a reaction caused Stephen Timms, the new Communications Minister, to hint that the broadband tax plans could be scrapped in the run up to the general election next year.

Commenting on this to the Times newspaper at the weekend, Timms said, “If the question is, is the levy definitely going to be legislated for this side of the election, I can’t say for sure. Things that are contentious will have to be left until after the election”.

However, a Business, Innovation and Skills Department spokeswoman told The Register today that “ remains committed to the timetable for introducing the 50p levy on fixed lines in 2010, as set out in the Digital Britain report”.

The spokeswoman continued, “We will be consulting on the ‘Final Third fund’ in the autumn, but no final decisions have yet been made about the legislative vehicle for introduction of the levy”.

With the Conservative party against the broadband tax plans, the future of the 50p broadband tax could well be decided after next years election.

Illegal Broadband Music Downloads Still Popular

A new music consumption survey has revealed that illegal music downloads using broadband are still as popular as ever with the younger generation.

The findings are in contrast to a study last month that found that illegal downloading was becoming less popular with younger people thanks to streaming sites such as YouTube and Spotify.

The new survey (the Annual Academic Survey) was commissioned by UK Music and investigated the music consumption behaviour and experience of 1,800 young people aged between 14 and 24.

The results showed that there had been very little change since 2008 in terms of how popular illegal downloading was. Around 61% of the survey base said that they still downloaded files using P2P networks and torrent trackers.

Furthermore, a staggering 83% of those people were doing so on a weekly basis.

It seems that while they know that it is wrong, they ignore the illegal aspect of sharing and downloading music.

The CEO of UK Music, Feargal Sharkey, said, “This is the second year we have run this survey with the University Of Hertfordshire’s Music and Entertainment Industry Management Research Group. As with last year’s results, this snapshot of how importantly young people rate music, how they are accessing it, consuming it, sharing it and copying it, makes for fascinating reading”.

Sharkey continued, “Ironically, for me, perhaps the biggest change is context. Over the past twelve months, the licensed digital music market has diversified enormously – epitomised by competition in the download market and the traction being gained by streaming services. Meanwhile, the prospect of commercial partnerships with ISPs lies tantalisingly on the horizon. And, of course, the UK’s artists and creative community continue to break new ground: innovating, experimenting and engaging with fans in all manner of new exciting and ways”.

“Clearly, the shape of our entire business will continue to evolve. However, we will achieve nothing if we do not work with music fans, and young music fans in particular. They are hugely demanding in their needs, but collectively we must rise to that challenge”.

Sharkey added, “We ignore engagement at our peril. That message is loud and clear”.

The survey did reveal some good news with many young people indicating that they would be willing to pay for an unlimited ‘all you can eat’ music download service.

Faster Broadband Won’t Entice Online TV Viewers

A new survey has revealed that faster broadband speeds may not necessarily draw more people online to watch their favourite TV shows.

The YouGov and Deloitte research found that 53% of the 2,123 surveyed would not watch more TV online even if there were faster broadband speeds available.

Furthermore around 29% of those surveyed thought that there was very little importance in being able to watch TV shows online.

It is mainly the younger generation aged between 18 and 34 years who are currently watching web TV on a regular basis.

However, even this group said that if broadband speeds were faster it would be unlikely to affect the length of time they would spend watching their favourite programmes online.

News programmes and comedy are the main types of TV content watched online, whereas just 7% of people surveyed watched reality TV over the internet.

James Bates, the Media and Telecoms partner at Deloitte, said, “Stimulating investment in a next generation broadband infrastructure for Britain has been at the heart of the Digital Britain debate. However, making high speed broadband access widely available to consumers is no guarantee that it will be taken up”.

Data Centre Costs Could Hinder UK Broadband Speeds

The high costs of building the huge data centres required to support the government’s Digital Britain plans could force companies to build them in Europe and thus hinder broadband speed progress within the UK.

The claims come from Derek Webster, an Associate Director of McBains Cooper who told the Times that the average data centre uses as much power as the city of Leicester.

The restricted broadband speeds are likely to mainly affect small businesses and those who work from home.

It could also affect the financial sector, with Webster saying, “When it comes to, say, the financial services industry, a delay in movement of information or money of a millisecond can cost tens and millions of dollars. So the demand is to keep those data centre servers close by”.

Expensive land and electricity prices as well as patchy fibre optic infrastructure just outside of London is making the UK an unsuitable place to build data centres.

Unless these prices change, it’s likely that the Digital Britain report will have its major organs placed in other European countries such as Germany, France and Sweden.

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