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An Overview of How Broadband Works in the UK

Rinky Dink Inc

In the UK, a large number of regional cable and television networks initially provided broadband services, and these companies were merged with other large enterprises. Now there are different modes of broadband services available including a cable network, digital subscriber line or DSL and wireless broadband services. Most of the UK residents use bundled communications, which deals with broadband, digital television subscriptions, mobile communications and landline network.

Cable Broadband Services in The UK:

Cable broadband mainly uses coaxial cables and optical cables to generate the wave of their broadband services. The largest service provider of this cable broadband in the UK is Virgin Media which provides the best speed through their broadband connections up to 300Mbit/s (the speed is subject to vary/change according to the location and nature of subscriptions).

In the year of 2000, Asymmetric digital subscriber line or ADSL was launched in the UK. Now BT Wholesale is one of the biggest networking and communication companies dealing with local loops, exchanges, internet connectivity, internet support system, and billing and with internet administration. Along with that, these companies also deal with additional services such as web hosting and email services.

Now many companies are operating their own internet and broadband business through local loop unbundling. Previously Bulldog Communication in London started it, and now it has spread up to the central Scotland area.

What is Local Loop Unbundling and How Does it Work in The UK?

Local loop unbundling mainly includes connectivity or cabling which builds a broadband network between your home and local telephone exchange. It is also known as the “Last Mile”. The local loop is mainly identified as a cable connection, and you can get your broadband and telephone connection through these cables. The local loop is originally owned by a particular company, and after unbundling the main connections or local loop, several service providers can sell their broadband services through this line. Different companies share the main local loop connections and provide you limited or unlimited connectivity, and the physical network remains same for all of these service providers.

Some of the potential advantages of local loop unbundling are as follows:

· Wider broadband network and area coverage

· Profit is more when compared to the overall investment calculation

· Can contribute to broadband development in large target areas, which earlier received sporadic or very less broadband connectivity

· Much lower running costs.

Metallic path facility:

Local loop connectivity of broadband mainly builds the connection between two-wire metallic transmissions. The network terminating equipment or NTE is mainly installed in the customer’s premises, and the main distribution jumper frame is installed in the local telephone exchange. The wire connections of local loop are connected between the main distribution jumper and the customer’s terminating equipment to establish the broadband and telephone connection.

Shared metallic path facility:

The shared metallic path facility or SMPF mainly distributes the network to the broadband customers through copper channels. That means other networking companies can share the network connections to reach the customer’s house, and they can be connected to the main local loop connections with their customer’s house terminal through the copper cable. This SMPF connection provides two-wire metallic transmission paths between the network terminating equipment and the main distribution jumper at the exchange.

BT Openreach connections in the UK:

BT Openreach introduced the local loop connections in the UK in the year of 2001. Now many companies like Talk Talk and Sky uses this network and offer BT lines to their customers. However, they do not need to establish their own local loop connections because they mainly share the BT network. On the other side, Virgin Media also has its own wire network, and Zen, Kingston in Hull uses their network for their own customers.

BT Openreach Network for Broadband Services in the UK:

BT group introduced their Openreach network connections, which have established a steady broadband cable network in the largest part of UK. This cable connection of BT Openreach has almost connected every house in the UK. The company was established in the year of 2006 following the agreement between BT group and UK’s telephone regulator Ofcom. BT Openreach has also connected UK residents with their local telephone exchange through their own local loop cable. This local cable connection mainly connects the main distribution frame or MDF and network termination point or NTP. The main distribution frame in mainly placed in the local telephone exchange and the cables are duly connected with this frame. Then the cable is connected with the NTP, which is placed in the customer’s house.

BT Openreach is one of the largest broadband communication companies in the UK. They deal with cable, fibre, and wires to connect the country. Most of the internet users who share their data, files, or who download their music and stream movies, mainly use Openreach network only. BT Openreach network does not see any physical gadgets like phone, broadband and television. They have mainly established their own fibre and cable broadband connections, which are available in the local telephone exchange. Some major service providers like Sky, Talk Talk, Gamma, BT and Daisy are using their network, and they connect the UK residents with the Openreach network connections. More than five hundred service providers are using and sharing their network, and more than three hundred million customers in the UK are now using the Openreach network.

Openreach is not only selling their network connections through these broadband service providers, but they are constantly trying to develop their connectivity. They have invested more than three billion euro to upgrade their network, and they need to install superfast internet network operated or generated through fibre optic only.

Broadband Enabling Technology by Openreach:

Openreach mainly provides broadband enabling technology or BET to some extreme locations in the UK where no broadband connections are available. This is a limited speed connection, which connects the customers through some local loop channels, especially if the customers reside in a remote area where no local telephone exchange is available. The BET connections can be operated in those areas to establish limited connectivity. The speed of this connection can provide 1Mbps to 2Mbps maximum.

Benefits of BET or broadband enabling technology:

· This is a technology, which is in use for more than ten years.

· The most reliable broadband connectivity when compared to wireless and satellite connections.

· This connection can reach any area, and it can provide the facility to the UK residents to work from their home.

Virgin Media Cable Network in the UK:

Virgin Media cable network is one of the largest broadband services in the UK. The company was formed in the year of 2006, and they are mainly dealing with broadband connections, mobile connections and landline telephone connections. Virgin is the largest networking company, which has established the fibre optic cable network for their customers. Now this company has a large customer base in the UK, and more than 4.2 million customers are using their broadband services.

Virgin Media cable network does not provide the broadband connections to the customer’s home. They have operated their network through fibre optic cable or FTTN network, and it is mainly installed on the headend to cabinets on the street. The DOXSIS 3.0 through the coaxial copper cable are mainly used to operate this network. In the year of 2010, Virgin Media broadband was introduced in the UK and they used to serve their broadband connections to other service providers like BSkyB, BT, Tiscali, AOL, Talk Talk, Plusnet, O2 and Orange. Generally, most of the broadband connections use the ADSL mode, and they are connected through the local telephone exchange to the customer home. The main loop is placed in the local exchange, and the customers can access the broadband connections through their landline connections. It is natural that the wire connections can provide maximum speed to the customers and the wire loop connections can provide maximum 8mp speed to the UK residents. But the connection speed can vary upon the distance. Those who reside close to the location of the telephone exchange can get maximum speed, and on the other hand, people who stay away from the local exchangewill get limited connectivity. Cable connections are totally owned by the cable company and they can vary according to the distance between their main thermal connections and the customer’s home. When the landline broadband provides up to 24Mbit/s, the Virgin Media offers 50Mbit/s. In the year of 2008, Virgin was advertised as “the Uk’s fastest broadband service”.

How Does A Broadband Connection Work in the UK?

In the UK, the broadband connections are mainly owned by some companies like BT, Openreach and Virgin Media. However, most of them use the ADSL connections. The ADSL connections are mainly wire loop connections. They are mainly connected with the local telephone exchange. People in the UK use landline connections for availing broadband services because the lines mainly get connected through a copper wire with the nearest telephone exchange. The wire connection can provide the best speed to the customers, and now most of these companies also offer mobile connections, television and landline connections from their end.

How Broadband Connections Are Established in The UK?

The configuration of the broadband connections in the UK mainly uses some cable loop. The main company establishes their cable looping in the local telephone exchange. Then the service providers unbundle these cable and extend or share the broadband network. These service providers do not need to establish their own broadband connections or cable looping. They can take a franchise from the main company, and they can access the company’s main cable for their shared connections. They use to connect their customers with the main terminal through wire, and the customers can access the broadband connection through their landline connection cable only.

But some remote places where no local telephone exchanges are available, it is very difficult to serve the broadband connections to those areas. In such cases, the BET or broadband enabling technology can work. The main broadband and network company can use their network to reach the customers who stay in those areas, and they can connect the customer’s home with their BET connections only.

Apart from that, Virgin Media has also launched the fibre optic connections for the UK residents. This connection is not a cable connection. The company has mainly installed its fibre optic boxes on the headend to cabinets on the street and it mainly provides wireless connectivity with different connections.

What Are The Problems of Cable Broadband Connections in The UK?

It has been noticed that people who stay in a long distance from the local telephone exchange, are not able to access high-speed broadband connections. The major cause of this problem is the distance between local exchange and the residents. Now people are shifting their connections to the fibre optic connections because of this problem. The cable connections can fluctuate at anytime due to long distance. Apart from that, heavy uses of these connections can also block the speed. Therefore, cable companies are generally not able to provide the best speed to their customers in the UK. As a result, they can advertise as the best speed up to 8mb for their customers, but when the connections are shared, the speed can be decreased automatically. But the fibre optic connections can provide the same speed to their customers because the fibre optic boxes can be installed anywhere on the road, and most of these companies install their boxes around the cities and surrounding areas to provide maximum speed to their customers.

Future Broadband Connections in The UK:

According to a recent research, it has been proved that a superfast broadband service (at least 24Mbps) has arrived and it has connected more than 1.7 billions homes in the UK. The government has already initiated some new plans to provide high-speed broadband service to the remote area. Superfast broadband is necessary for the UK residents because the residents can easily access more speedy connections and they can easily download a full movie within few minutes, or else, they can use the chat and access the email ids similarly. However, it is a frustrating situation when the broadband speed suddenly drops down because the distance between the local exchange and the home, or the same connections may be operated by multiple users at the same time. For businesses, it is a daunting situation to run the business without a high sped broadband connection. Now in the UK, there are several connections, which can provide you with limited access, or they can provide you unlimited expensive broadband plans. However, most of these companies mainly use the cable looping, copper cable for their connections. They use to connect homes with their local exchange through cable, and they share their connections or network with several service providers.

Cable connection is one of the strongest points in UK and major parts of UK are still using the cable and landline connections for their broadband and internet access. The fibre optic connections have already been launched in the UK and they have already covered maximum area. Now most companies who are using their own cable looping to provide broadband connections in the UK, are investing major amounts to upgrade their existing connections.

Mainly, broadband services in the UK try to upgrade their services service by installing fibre optics in several areas. Moreover, in future, the high-speed broadband can be accessed through the wireless connectivity in the UK and it can be possible by Fibre optic connections only. But the cable and cable unbundle connectivity shall exist at the same level for the businesses, and major business houses can run their business with their own exchange. For that, they need to install their own exchange in their premises only.

What is Meant By Shared Bandwidth?

It is a common term that is often used in technical telecommunication terms. For most broadband technologies that are targeted to residential areas, a proportion of the existing users shares the bandwidth that is available. Systems such as FTTX, Satellite Internet and the WiMax are used to incorporate a tight network of broadband cables. The network operator just needs to take care of the main network system, along with the statistical multiplexing, which includes a technique for sharing and distributing the bandwidth in different locations. All the usage patterns, and the ideas of cable sharing, and monitoring of the entire process is done by the operator. Often when there are power fluctuations, or in a case of major cable faults, the bandwidth speed actually comes to a standstill. The problem can also take place if too many people use the same network and download a large number of databases at the same time.

How to choose high-quality broadband networks especially for rural areas?

It is an indubitable fact that speed is an essential part to consider when you take a broadband connection. Most consumers are amateurs, and they generally do not have any technical expertise about the nature and extent of the broadband connection or the package that they are buying. They are often misled by advertisements, and they fall under the impression that they will get the desired speed as shown in the advertisements. There are certain basic facts, which you need to know when you are applying for a broadband connection and if you are a resident of the United Kingdom:

· Broadband speeds are often not in consonance with how they are advertised.

· The distance between your home and the street cabinet where the broadband loops are kept enclosed, is also an important factor to consider when you choose a broadband connectivity. However, an exception to this slow speed is Virgin Media, which is equipped with its own system of cables, so that it becomes easier for one to access the broadband even from the remotest part of the city.

· Climatic changes, peak hour usage, and slow traffic management policies are three most important factors which slow down the speed of the broadband. In order to ensure a steady functioning of the broadband system, you need to talk to the company professionals first. They will be able to keep the router properly, and tell you if any potential upgrade is required.

Virgin Media offers one of the most effective student broadband packages:

Whether you want to play the game of throne, or you want to see The Chronicles of Narnia, you will need a high-speed broadband system as part of your student life. Right from playing online games to collecting study materials for coursework and research work, a good broadband connection is an essential part of every student’s life. Virgin Media has launched one of the most effective broadband packages for students, with approximately 200MB fibre broadband, and this you can enjoy clearly as long as your are within the coverage area. The best part is that, students can also afford this broadband service, as they are available in 50MB and 100MB packages also. In fact, now many of the rural areas in the UK are opting for Virgin Media broadband packages with high-quality bandwidth and affordable price. Apart from this much-known brand, there are also other broadband companies like Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), which makes the life of the rural people easier. It is an organisation that is funded by the government, and it provides broadband installation and maintenance services to rural areas, at a subsidised rate. People just need to have a broadband checker for the rural areas, and the company professionals need to educate them about the database system, and, how they can maximise their business profit, or improve their daily life, with the help of this broadband.

Many broadband companies are now told to mention line rental prices as part of their policies. It is important to find out what a company is charging, before you actually go for a connection. Almost all the renowned broadband companies in the UK are now instructed by the telecommunication authorities to show an all-inclusive monthly line rental cost. The length and duration of the contract that they sign with the customers are also a matter that is carefully analysed by the authorities. Certain laws have been implemented which give greater emphasis on the upfront broadband costs. In the UK, the broadband industry is gradually evolving, and there are more number of people who are getting interested in connectivity through multiple viable sources. Companies are not just providing the connectivity benefits, but they are also bringing clarity to the whole policy of internet pricing. With high-quality optical fibres that can give a very good performance, the broadband industry in the UK is surely going ahead to greater steps for the future.


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