Wireless Role in Universal Broadband May Be Overstated, Says BT

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Wireless technologies may struggle in the Government’s bid to provide broadband to every person in the UK, according to a senior BT executive.

Wireless technologies, proposed by the Government’s Broadband Britain report as a major means to fill in the gaps in the UK’s broadband provision, may struggle if performance expectations are set too high, according to BT’s group strategy director.

“Some wireless technologies will struggle,” Dr Tim Whitley told eWEEK Europe. Although wireless has been suggested as a means to reach communities that cannot get broadband over their phone lines, it may be not be able to deliver the right sort of performance, he said in an interview.

Wireless might hit a good score in a speedtest, but could be unable to provide continuous service, or enough bandwidth to share amongst a community, said Dr Whitley. Before relying on it, the government will have to decide what kind of services it expects people to be running over their 2Mbps links – and make more detailed specifications of the performance of those lines.

“The Digital Britain report says there will be a role for wireless, but the degree of that role is critically linked to what the services are,” he said.

BT is upgrading exchanges to provide ADSL 2+, and is planning to offer super-fast broadband through running fibre to street cabinets, but the Government is still deciding how to deliver the universal 2Mbps service, which it proposes to fund through money originally specified for the Digital TV switchover.

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