Oftel in tizz over broadband

Confusion reigns

Oftel is in a right old tizzy about its definition of broadband.

Here's its usual definition: "'Dial-up'or 'narrowband' Internet access is used...for access speeds up to and including 128 kilobits per second (kbps). 'Broadband' is used...to refer to higher bandwidth, always-on services, offering data rates of 128 kbps and above."

Using this definition, Oftel has included in its broadband figures the many tens of thousands of people who use NTL's 128k service. Which is useful, 'cos it helps swell the number of people hooked up to "broadband" and make the Government look good.

But hang on a mo. What's this from Oftel's stunningly interesting document Review of the wholesale unmetered narrowband Internet termination market, consultation - 17 March 2003?

Can it be that Oftel doesn't regard NTL's 128kbs service as a "broadband" product?

Said the report: "Oftel also includes NTL's 128 kbit/s offering in the narrowband market. Although this is marketed as 'broadband', it has only some, not all, of the key characteristics of broadband. It is always on and allows use of the telephone at the same time but is not as fast as other services marketed as broadband."

It goes on: "Oftel's latest residential survey found that the main reason for getting broadband was faster access, mentioned by 57% of respondents compared to only 8% who mentioned simultaneous voice calls and 6% who mentioned permanent connection. Oftel believes that for this reason these services should be regarded as narrowband rather than broadband for the purposes of this review."

So, depending on which definition you use, Oftel reckons NTL's 128kbs service is both a narrowband and a broadband product. At the same time. Amazing.

Luckily for Oftel, NTL is about to up its 128kbs service to 150kbs - which might just be enough to get it off this particularly embarrassing hook. ®

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