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Broadband in the UK leads the world

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Daily Telegraph: [In the UK,] Southern Railway and T-Mobile will unveil details [this] week of the world’s first train wireless broadband service. The T-Mobile HotSpot service will allow up to 8,000 daily commuters on the London to Brighton route to access the internet. It will be launched in the summer.

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Daily Telegraph
Southern Railway
T-Mobile

This item in a Daily Telegraph story on Saturday about the broadband revolution in the UK was the one that caught my attention most of all in a report that makes for enlightening reading. T-Mobile announced the forthcoming service last February and said they will be offering limited free trials.

For the tech-curious, here’s how T-Mobile says it will work:

[...] T-Mobile’s HotSpot service is made possible by the installation of Wi-Fi access points within the train’s carriages, which in turn are connected to a WiMax network running alongside the tracks. These links pass data in both directions at rates of up to 32Mb/s, making this the fastest data link to a train anywhere in the world.

While I can’t imagine much fun in trying to do your internet stuff while on the daily 55-mile south coast to London rush-hour commute on those always-crowded trains, such a service does present some great possibilities nevertheless.

Imagine – checking your email with your Pocket PC as you strap-hang. If you’re lucky enough to get a seat, whip out the laptop and email that report to your client or colleagues before you get to the office. Even publish that blog post you’ve been writing on the journey. Not only that, you can also log in while at the station waiting for your train (perfect for those constant delays).

Great possibilities indeed. How long will it be, I wonder, before you’ll be able to always be connected on, say, the train from Amsterdam to Paris? Or Eurostar from Avingnon to London?

The Telegraph story says that the UK is now the most extensive broadband market in the G7, ahead of Canada, Japan, the United States, Germany, France and Italy. Soon more than half of all British net users will have a broadband home connection.

Price is no longer an obstacle for most people wanting to upgrade to a fast internet connection, the Telegraph says. And a price war that has seen the cost of broadband tumble recently is poised to change forever home use of computers.

In the past two months, AOL, Virgin.net, Freedom2Surf and Nildram have dropped their broadband prices, while BT and NTL have doubled their connection speeds. (Similar broadband speed-doubling in The Netherlands began rollout in early February. With no price inceases, it’s equivalent to a price reduction.)

BT announced last week that it signed its five millionth home to broadband over the phone network. The Telegraph says that one million people were signed up in the past four months while another two million homes are connected via cable. A third of the UK’s three million dial-up users are expected to switch by the end of the year, according to Ofcom, the UK communications and broadcast industry regulator.

The British government has said that the target of 99 per cent broadband availability across the UK will be reached by the end of the summer.

Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is currentlly the VP of New Marketing at Crayon. Visit Neville Hobson’s blog: NevilleHobson.com.

Broadband in the UK leads the world
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