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Concerns over 4G broadband rollout in UK

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 06 Dec 2011 9:27

Concerns over 4G broadband rollout in UK Groups raise questions about rollout pace, coverage.
The Federation of Small Businesses and the National Farmers Union (NFU) have raised questions about the rollout of 4G broadband services in the United Kingdom. The groups are concerned that the rollout is taking too long, and that it will leave hundreds of thousands of rural users out.

For businesses and home users in rural areas, getting a decent broadband connection can be a nightmare. In the UK, 3G mobile broadband gave rural customers options they didn't have before, but for a lot of users, the speed and service quality was not what they had expected.

The BBC covers the story of Hayley Gaffney, who signed up for 3G broandband only to find it so slow she couldn't carry out normal tasks. "The internet was an absolute nightmare," she said. "It just kept crashing because it was so slow."

"It was things like watching YouTube, uploading photos onto Facebook, just uploading the news feed on Facebook, getting my emails without getting them a few days later. Before it was so slow."

Now Gaffney is lucky enough to be part of a 4G broadband trial in Cornwall, which has boosted her speed to around 11 Mbps. "The internet really is amazing to what it was before," she said. Another 4G trial is taking place in central London currently, run by O2.

A lot of rural customers will not be as lucky as Gaffney though, according to the NFU, who warn that the ambition to cover 98 percent of the UK still leaves out hundreds of thousands of potential users. Phil Bicknell, chief economist at the NFU, said the group also has concerns about the speed that rural businesses and home users could expect.

"We're seeing that widening gap between those people in rural areas, in terms of the speed of their connection with broadband, and those superfast connections that are increasingly emerging in urban areas," he said.

Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, said that the project is moving as quickly as possible, and that no final decisions have been made on coverage.

Tags: Ofcom UK
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