Recent government announcements on the improvement of internet infrastructure in the UK have drawn criticism for their limited ambition.
While the threat of a widening gap in services between rural and urban areas have been the most high-profile of the complaints, the lack of focus on emerging technologies such as fibre optic broadband has also come under attack.
The plans as outlined by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt aim to give 90% of the country 24Mbps connections, primarily through copper cabling. When you consider that fibre optic connections allow for 1GBps, and that a growing number of UK businesses and homeowners are already benefitting from the service, the arguable short-sightedness of the Government’s proposals are put into focus.
So what would the benefits of concentrating on fibre optic broadband be?
Internet services have really begun to boom as high speed internet has become more and more common. There has been a massive increase in streaming content, meaning people can catch up with major TV shows at a time that suits them, stream music, rent and watch films, and make video calls over the internet.
For many, this experience is far from smooth, especially at peak times. Many users still find the viewing experience to be choppy as oversubscribed connections fail to provide enough bandwidth.
A fibre optic network would make for much greater capacity in the system and increase quality. The proposed network may struggle under the weight of increased use, and user expectation.
New services such as online gaming platforms OnLive and Gaikai have highlighted the benefit of streaming and high-speed internet connections. Through the combination of cloud technology and a lightning quick connection, users can achieve better results on their standard computers, meaning they do not need to invest in the latest technology.
Sceptics may be quick to comment that watching YouTube or playing the latest games are not particularly productive, and should not be a priority for the Government, but this is missing the point.
Fibre optic broadband offers a host of advantages to UK businesses through massively imprived data transfer rates.
Fibre-optic broadband allows for the speeding up business transactions and in turn increasing turnover and productivity. We will no longer require taking out time for business trips, when we can instead have high definition, uninterrupted video conferencing.
Those who rely on the likes of Skype or other business conferencing applications will know all too well that with the current infrastructure isn’t sufficient for this.
Fibre optic internet will also give a massive boost to smaller businesses, which will massively benefit from remote working and collaborations across the globe. Businesses will no longer be reliant on having hugely expensive and inefficient servers to host their data, as the increased internet speeds will make cloud hosting the backup method of the future.