Boring broadbandwidth baloney

In ‘BT CEO responds to ‘UK worse than Japan’ criticism’ [dead] Tony Hallett,, March 01 2004 it is noted that:

BT CEO Ben Verwaayen has hit back at criticism that broadband speeds in the UK are too slow in comparison to some parts of Scandinavia and in particular countries in the Far East… Speaking at the UK Technology Partnering and Investment Forum in London…. Verwaayen [warned] against ‘pestering ourselves’ about megabit per second rates and instead ‘concentrate on services’ and what he calls ‘liquid bandwidth’

I am sympathetic to Verwaayen’s defence, particularly his advocacy of services. Many future services delivered over broadband may require very little bandwidth, taking advantage instead of having an always-on connection with little latency. How much bandwidth do those hot communication technologies SMS and IM need? Almost none. Even delivery of TV could be facilitated by 1.5 to 2Mbps broadband, using asynchronous models. (After all, TiVo delivers TV using radio frequency, which is much lower bandwidth than any broadband BT sells.)

Sadly, in the UK we are still fixated with broadband for faster access to Web sites and email attachments, and music and software downloads. We have to get away from our PC-centric, reactive model of network use and develop services that take advantage of all the characteristics of broadband, and that also better fit into our lives. For all of Verwaayen’s convincing talk, BT has yet to deliver in this area.

(I wrote further about the bandwidth fetish in a December 2003 journal posting ‘Enough bandwidth already’.)

Also and originally published at

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1 Comment

  1. I agree – this obsession with ‘we don’t really understand all this, but if we can have it bigger and better, it must be what we all need, – and we can’t have other countries beating us’, kind of thinking.

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