David Tebbutt, IWR Blog

The lucky citizens of Bournemouth are soon to get ’up to 100Mbps’ internet access from their homes and businesses. If the project goes according to plan, it could either make Bournemouth an attractive place to work and live or it could give a kick up the bottom to BT et al to bring high speed broadband to the rest of the country.

Talking of bottoms, I should mention that the cabling is being installed in the city’s sewers by the misnamed H20 Networks. Shouldn’t that be CH4 Networks? Oh well. At least the Bournemouth project itself goes under the moniker ’fibrecity’.

In terms of speed, impact on the environment, security and cost, this approach beats the digging-up-of-roads method hands-down. A couple of kilometres of broadband can be laid in four hours at a cost of less than a third of conventional approaches.

The backbone capacity is described as ’unlimited’, which suggests that 100Mbps is theoretically possible. So what would it mean in everyday life? Video, videoconferencing and IP telephony without hiccups for a start. Fast uploads and downloads of all manner of information, suggesting the possibility of offloading hefty computing activities to the ’cloud’. Remote visual monitoring of people, equipment or property. And, for those so-minded, vastly improved multiplayer games and other virtual experiences.

Without wishing to be a wet blanket, I should point out that not every provider of services to the internet wants to gear up for high speed. It will cost a lot of hard-to-recoup money. Others will see an immediate commercial value – video rentals, online training etc – and will move swiftly. We’ll end up with a two-tier internet in the short term and the good citizens of Bournemouth will be watched as closely as laboratory rats.

Oh darn it. I didn’t mean to mention rats.

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