Broadband is not all about the provider

March 15, 2009

Most people that are in the process of a search for a new broadband provider, connection or package often think: The broadband provides the service and the end user can customize the package from the provider to cater to their preferences. Well there is actually a little more involved that is important to note.

Broadband speed and quality often times depends largely on the type and quality of the PC that you will be using the connection on. Sometimes the age of a computer could have a very strong effect on the signal that the broadband company is able to transmit and often times a very old computer can immensely slow down a very fast connection.

Most computers these days are equipped with  built in processors that can transmit a proper signal but if your computer is from years prior to the most recent connection type than you may have a problem with the connection that has absolutely nothing to do with your provider.

Remember that buying a PC has now become something that will have to be updated on a somewhat regular bi-yearly basis. As things change and technology changes things are likely to get faster, smaller, greener and better so buying a laptop or desktop and counting on keeping it for decades is most likely a thing of the past.

But with computers getting more affordable and broadband deals following suit in that regard it should be no problem to be able to make an upgrade every now and again in the future years to come.

City versus rural broadband and Ofcom's market 1, 2, 3

March 1, 2009

I have been contacted by Plusnet recently. Plusnet have released two new broadband products – Plusnet value and Plusnet unlimited. Plusnet have encouraged me to update the pricing information on their products (I still need to do this – but am writing this post as I learn what the pricing refers to …. BT’s broadband Market 3 etc. ???).

With Plusnet’s new pricing came references to.

“the cheapest market 3 broadband in the UK”

At this point I am not sure what market 3 means. Read on if you want to follow me on my journey of finding out. Jump to the bottom of the post if you prefer un-pretty pictures.

From what initially sounds like (from Plusnet) two simple broadband products, there is in-fact some confusing pricing that goes hand in hand. It appears that the price you pay for your broadband is dependent on the level of competition in your local area. (I know I am writing a broadband website here but this is relatively new news to me).

It appears that where your local BT exchange houses equipment from other broadband providers, the price you pay for your broadband is lower….. this confuses me and I am sure it will confuse others.

Live in a city – get cheap broadband

Now I may be reading too little into this, but it seems that the only customers that benefit from cheap broadband are going to be customers where companies such as Sky, o2 and Orange are prepared to put in their own equipment to a BT exchange. Now broadband companies are only going to do this in areas where there are large number of potential customers… yes, you guessed it….

“people living in cities still pay considerable less for their broadband than those of us that live out in the country.”

So if you live in a city (or other areas with broadband providers competing for your custom) – good for you – you live in a Market 3 area and can get nice cheap broadband. And, at £5.99 per month, Plusnet Value now provides the cheapest broadband in these competitive areas.

For the rest of us. Expect to continue to pay high prices for you broadband connections. The same Plusnet value product in a ‘normal’ area is £11.99 per month. Not so great.

In case you are interested to know more about the digital divide in the UK. Skim the notes below. If you live in an area highlighted in red, you can get cheap broadband. If you don’t, you’re stuck with slow broadband speeds and high prices. Doesn’t quite ad up does it?

Ofcom descriptions for broadband markets

Under Ofcom regulations introduced in May 2008, telephone exchanges are graded in one of four categories.

  1. Market 1BT Wholesale are the only broadband provider
  2. Market 2Broadband is available from 2 or 3 providers (including BT)
  3. Market 3Broadband is available from 4 or more providers (including BT)
  4. Hull area – broadband provided by Kingston communications

If an exchange is scheduled to offer broadband from 4 or more providers in the future then it’ll be Market 2 if it serves less than 10,000 lines and Market 3 if it serves more than 10,000.

Ofcom broadband map - market 1, 2 and 3 - 2008

Ofcom broadband map - market 1, 2 and 3 - 2008

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