Broadband Is Not Only about Speed

– But Also about Consistently Good Quality

– Mobile Broadband Won’t Fill the Need

Broadband is not all about providing fiber-like speeds, according to Tim Johnson, of broadband specialists Point Topic, speaking at the Broadband Forum quarterly meeting in Bucharest. In the rush to provide superfast speeds, there are still too many that won’t be able to get 2 Mbps, he said.

Aiming his remarks at European policy makers and politicians, Johnson said, “Every European country is planning how to deliver superfast to all its citizens by 2020. But the emphasis is too much on the headline speeds and not enough on the user experience.”

“While politicians may boast of having the fastest Internet in Europe, about 40 million homes still can’t get 2 megabits. They need at least that speed for a good experience watching Internet video, such as YouTube or BBC iPlayer.”

Point Topic has documented broadband availability in Europe in accordance with the EU’s Digital Agenda. It estimates that 3.4 million homes in Britain can’t get 2 Mbps over fixed broadband services and said official figures show that 4.3 million households in Germany are in the same situation.

“Meanwhile, the media is being sold the message that nothing but optical fiber all the way to the home will do for broadband in the twenty-teens — but that’s not the most cost-effective way of providing what people actually need,” Johnson said.

He said the focus should be on homes connected per euro or per pound and consistently good performance at the speeds people actually need. He said, “20 Mbps with good quality of service is better than 100 Mbps without it.”

He said there are problems with performance across multiple superfast networks that use different technologies, which users need for quality end-to-end performance on video calls, for example.

He criticized the use of mobile broadband to fill in the gaps in wireline broadband coverage. They may meet the basic speed requirement, but are not technically capable of providing continuous high-volume streams of data that high-quality video needs.

The Broadband Forum has helped develop technical standards that define good Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE). Johnson urged attendees to engage policy-makers, politicians and investors about broadband networks, so that they provide what they promise.

The Broadband Forum announced a new white paper, MR-180 (Delivering Quality IPTV over DSL) and a new Technical Report (TR-197) called “DSL Quality Suite: DSL Quality Management Nomenclature and Techniques.”

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