I read with wry grin this week the news item that Virgin Media is going to double broadband speeds for approx 4 million of their customers in the UK to a ‘blinding’ 120Mbit/s (download). This piece of news was of such national importance that it prompted the Prime Minister to comment that “the investment would be a great boost to the UK”.
Andrew Ferguson, of independent broadband review site thinkbroadband.com added: “The news is good for UK broadband as a whole and should highlight that the UK is not the internet backwater sometimes it is portrayed as.
Accuse me of being cynical but I do feel obliged to remind both Andrew and David (Cameron), that the UK is an internet backwater and this announcement is reflective of the general state of all UK infrastructure, as anyone who transits Heathrow on a regular basis can attest. The simple fact that the UK ranks around 35th in the world when it comes to average broadband download speeds tends to underscore the reality.
I pondered why this announcement required a statement from someone of no lesser stature than the country’s Prime Minister and I came to the conclusion that it helps to somehow address a national sense of under achievement. “Paul, that is too harsh you cynical bastard” I hear you say? Perhaps, however (by sheer coincidence) a card came into my mailbox this week from KPN – the Dutch SP (telephone company) advising that if I switch to them I can have 500Mbit/s internet. This was of such national importance that not only did the Dutch Prime Minister resist the urge to comment but neither did the local free newspaper.
Oh, and by the way, we don’t have data caps in Holland either!