The debate about broadband evolution and availability seems to become emotive often for want of  hard facts in a digestible from. As I couldn’t find anyone who could provide me with the maps I needed I started my own mini practice alongside my usual strategy work, mapping broadband and related information to support business and technical architecture.

Over the last while I’ve worked with Samknows, the oracle of primary broadband data; blending their data with information from other sources like the Office of National Statistics provides a fantastic insight into broadband availability and the people whose lives it touches.

Representing national data means mapping systems and databases so I’ve built up a substantial repository of data, modelled around a range of mapping tools; working with Samknows as often as I can has resulted in an unparalleled picture of broadband Britain which has unpicked any number of myths and assumptions – certainly plenty of my own.

Below are some examples from this output – contact me if you’d be interested in me helping you understand the broadband landscape in your area.

[singlepic id=3 w=320 h=240 float=none]This first one came from recently tinkering around with some of the more hidden tools in my GIS tool-kit to see if there were other ways of portraying the broadband landscape. Blue areas are cooler, slower broadband speeds, rising to warmer, sunlit areas with good performance. Not sure if it quite works or not but its different at least.
[singlepic id=1 w=320 h=240 float=none]This image uses a model I put together using ONS land-use and population data t create a proxy for the cost and effectiveness of next generation broadband investments. The model estimates the mean distance between neighbours – the further two home are apart, the more expensive they will be to install fibre-optic cables, and the less effective fibre to the cabinet is likely to be.
[singlepic id=2 w=270 h=202 float=none]This map of the London Borough of Enfield uses a more traditional approach to mapping broadband speeds reported at ONS Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs); at this level some of the broadband detail is lost but it does allow the data to be linked to other public datasets like deprivation indices or transport data.
[singlepic id=11 w=320 h=240 float=none]This was just a bit of election fun really – what would parliament look like if only MP’s who represent constituencies in the “Final Third” could form the Government.
[singlepic id=28 w=320 h=240 float=none]The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) commissioned a model which attempted to predict next generation access broadband for a number of penetration levels. This is the result for Cumbria should NGA reach 70% of the UK population.
  1. cyberdoyle says:

    Excellent. Am I right in thinking that the only people getting a decent connection are the ones close to the exchanges or is my thinking about to be turned on its head too? From the blue map it looks to me like the majority of the land mass is grossly underserved. The final third looks more like two thirds…

    • adrian says:

      This is Oxfordshire, the most rural county in the South East with some very strangely located telephone exchanges which is why it looks under served. I’d guess your area around Wray will look pretty similar or worse – extremes always make from more dramatic images.

      What I was hoping to tease out wasn’t so much that people living closer to the exchange get better services but the sometimes odd ways the speed tapers off with distance – its far from a simple circular radial pattern which we often see in maps. Its kind of obvious that the geography and topography play a major part and this was my attempt to try and show that on a map.

  2. cyberdoyle says:

    We have found that people quite close to exchanges get poor connections sometimes, I guess it will show on the maps when samknows gets all the router info logged and it looks like it is already starting to show from your heatmaps. When we check with the engineers is it is because the wire to their house has gone a torturous route to reach them and is not as the crow flies and longer than expected. We also find some houses still have very old aluminum cable. I bet the mobile broadband data makes a similar pattern. Wherever there is high population it makes sense for the telcos to provide the service. They should be encouraged to reach out further to help the havenots until the whole country is done. I also think they shouldn’t be funded to implement stopgap solutions such as BET to deliver the USC, it is money down the drain. They already own ducts, poles and wayleaves, the price of scrap copper is skyhigh and fibre is cheap.
    got on a rant there… you already know all this but will leave it on seeing as how I have said it…


    • Tony_Park says:

      Hi Chris,

      it seems daft to me, that BT will concentrate on providing fibre broadband to the same places that Virgin also delivers theirs. One has to wonder, what takeup BT actually see in these locations. I know for a fact, that if BT concentrated on getting FO out to the rural locations, where there is no alternative, they would probably see a greater return on their investment, over time!


  3. Somerset says:

    Not sure how the recovered copper will fund a fibre replacement. Currently a cheap phone socket is all that is needed, what’s the cost of a box to terminate the fibre that will need batteries to keep it going in the event of a power cut and is close to a 13A socket?

    • adrian says:

      I’m not sure it would totally either. The box to terminate fibre in is pretty much the same as for a copper network, and the cost of fibre routers for the home is getting close to that of ADSL routers so in terms of the home equipment there is very little in it. The current price of copper on the commodity market is still fairly high, and is higher than the cost of the fibre cables. So the argument goes that if BT removed the copper cables between homes and the exchanges when they installed the fibre then they could recoup some, and some argue most if not all, of the cost of installing fibre. Life is rarely as simple as that but if the UK were in a position to do as Australia has just done and announce a copper switch-off, then BT could certainly recover some of their investment costs.

  4. Somerset says:

    Could be interesting to see how to install fibre alongside copper in some places before the change over. Would people lose connection for a day?

    Anybody know what BT might get for a km of recovered 600 pair copper cable?

    One issue is that many people have broadband from a different supplier to the phone. How does that fit in with replacing copper?

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