The UK has finally made it onto Europe’s table of top countries in fibre broadband to the home (FTTH) and to the building (FTTB). Admittedly, the UK is still at the bottom of this European table, which requires a penetration of just one percent to qualify. This compares with Latvia, which topped the table for the third year in a row with 50.3 percent, though it’s only 11th worldwide. Happily, Ofcom, which regulates the UK communications market, has plans to improve things.
The table was published at the FTTH Council Europe conference held in Amsterdam this month, along with the FTTH Market Panorama prepared by IDATE.
According to the Market Panorama, Spain added the most new FTTH/B subscribers with 1,858,743, ahead of France with an extra 1,480,220 subscribers.
Of course, not everyone who can get fibre broadband actually subscribes to it. The average availability for the EU’s 28 countries is 36.4 percent, while the average take-up rate is only 38.2 percent. However, in many countries – including Andorra, Belarus, Belgium, Latvia, the Netherlands and Romania – the take-up rate is over 50 percent. This is obviously important to ensure the profitability that drives investment.
The UK now has a penetration rate of only 1.5 percent and a take-up rate of 13.1 percent. This is desperately poor, but a marked improvement. The report says that FTTH/B subscriptions grew by 83 percent compared to September 2017, and there are now 369,250 UK subscribers out of 2,817,000 homes passed.
In some ways this gives a misleading impression of Britain’s broadband because of the popularity of FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) services such as BT Infinity. This uses old copper wiring and VDSL2 to deliver high-speed broadband from the street cabinet, but does not count as FTTH/B. According to Ofcom, the UK ranks second in the EU’s “big five” countries in ADSL. As a result, around 94 percent of UK premises can get “superfast” speeds of at least 30 Mbps, though only 45 percent subscribe to them.
SEE: IT pro’s guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF)
Ofcom published its £200 million plan to support full-fibre investment in July 2018. Its stated goal is “to deliver full-fibre to 15m premises by 2025 and to all premises in the UK by 2033”. Before that, says Ofcom, the UK government’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) will allow people and businesses the legal right to request a decent broadband connection, “delivering download speeds of at least 10 Mbps and upload speeds of 1 Mbps by 2020”. Currently, only two percent of UK premises can’t get those speeds, according to Ofcom (PDF).
The UK’s progress was reflected at the end of the FTTH Conference when Greg Mesch, founder and CEO of CityFibre, was presented with the first Charles Kao Award (named after a Nobel prize-winner for optical communications) “for his extraordinary contribution to the acceleration of full fibre deployment in the UK, a country that has until recently sat far behind in the European rankings for FTTH/B access” (PDF)
CityFibre and Vodafone plan to cover 5 million homes by 2025.
Other companies are also contributing to the growth of FTTH/B in the UK. TalkTalk has set up a new company, FibreNation, to deliver fibre to 3 million homes, Virgin Media plans to reach 4 million premises by 2020, while Hyperoptic is delivering a full fibre network to 50 towns and cities. As usual, however, BT will be a major contributor, with Openreach planning to cover 10 million homes by 2025. There also are a lot of smaller contributors, many of whom are members of INCA, the Independent Networks Cooperative Association.
The real problem with the UK’s slow progress in FTTH/B is that it delays the desired “copper switch-off”. This is essential to avoid the high cost of maintaining two different networks. It will also increase reliability, reduce maintenance costs, cut energy use by 40-60 percent, and increase customer satisfaction, according to an FTTH Council Europe report by WIK-Consult (PDF).
Of course, switching off the copper network is one way to drive users to move to fibre broadband. Without that, idleness and inertia would keep many users on copper forever.
Australia started its copper switch-off in 2014, and New Zealand is also making progress. In Estonia, Telia has already switched off 70 percent of its copper exchanges, and Sweden 42 percent. This may involve using wireless connections rather than fibre for rural areas.
However, copper switch-off is a new idea to most UK users, and it may be another decade before they even have to think about it.
READ MORE ON BROADBAND AND NETWORKS
The Most Expensive NFTs Ever Purchased
One of the earliest examples of an NFT collection on the Ethereum blockchain, CryptoPunks have grown to be among the most valuable collections in the world. They are a set of 10,000 unique, algorithmically-generated “Punk” characters that, according to their creators Larva Labs, served as the inspiration for the ERC-721 standard, an interface that now powers that majority of Ethereum-based NFTs. A CryptoPunk’s value is determined by the rarity of its attributes: the rarer the attributes, the more valuable the NFT.
CryptoPunk #5822 is one of the rarest of all, which explains its incredible selling price. Firstly, it has just one attribute, a feature that only 2% of the collection shares. That single attribute is a bandana, which is rare in itself, as only 5% of the collection sport one. The Punk’s skin type is alien, which is the biggest factor in pushing up this NFT’s value, as only 0.09% of the collection share this skin, a total of 9 NFTs out of a collection of 10,000. Punk #5822 was bought by Deepak Thapliyal, CEO of blockchain tech company Chain, for 8,000 ETH, roughly $23.7 million USD at the time of sale.
Self-Repairing Electronics Are Closer To Reality Than You Think
A research group led by Professor Yehonadav Bekenstein from the Faculty of Materials Sciences and Engineering and the Solid-State Institute at Technion was studying perovskite nanoparticles for their potential to provide a green alternative to toxic lead materials used heavily in electronics. In doing so, they found something unexpected.
The team found on a microscopic level that the nanocrystals moved a hole (damage) through the areas of a structure to self-heal. Surprised by this, the researchers drew up a code to analyze microscopic videos and understand the dynamics and movements within the crystal. The researchers realized that the damaged area, or hole, formed on the surface of the nanoparticles, then moved to energetically stable areas inside, and was finally “spontaneously ejected” out. Researchers explained that through this self-healing process, the nanocrystals essentially reverted back to being undamaged (per Technion).
Researchers with Technion believe that this discovery is a key step toward understanding the processes by which perovskite nanoparticles can heal themselves. The team also thinks that perovskite nanoparticles should be used in solar panels and other electronic devices. The full study, published by Advanced Functional Materials and made available at the Wiley Online Library, is titled “Self-Healing of Crystal Voids in Double Perovskite Nanocrystals Is Related to Surface Passivation.”
This Astonishing Vision AMG Sports EV Will Somehow Spawn Production Electric Cars
It’s no secret that Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance division has been downsizing from high-strung, gas-fed internal combustion engines to lower-displacement mills infused with some form of hybrid or mild hybridization. The incoming AMG C63 S, for instance, will make do without its raucous 4.0-liter bi-turbo engine. Instead, it will have a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a mild-hybrid powertrain. The Manhart CR 700 is one of the last modified C 63 S wagons with AMG’s muscular turbocharged V8 motor.
Meanwhile, the Vision AMG concept harks the beginning of a zero-emissions future without sacrificing style or the brand’s hallmark “AMG driving experience.” The Vision AMG has innovative axial flux motors (similar to Vision EQXX) developed by Mercedes subsidiary YASA. The brand claims its new electric motors are smaller, lighter, and produce more power than conventional electric motors. Mercedes-AMG did not mention motor outputs, battery sizes, or range numbers. Still, it did say Vision AMG’s drivetrain would be “developed entirely from scratch,” including a new high-performance, high-voltage battery, and a “revolutionary drive technology,” said Mercedes-AMG.
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