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IP Stream - UK Communications
For BT Wholesale ADSL services, users at first have to be situated within a distance of 3.5 kilometres from the local telephone exchange to be able to obtain ADSL. However, because of RADSL (Rate Adaptive Digital Subscriber Line), it is now possible to have the service from a longer distance. However, users with RADSL may experience lower upstream rate, contingent on line quality. There are still places where ADSL is unavailable due to technical restrictions, such as housing zones built in the 1980s and 1990s where aluminum cable rather than copper were used, and areas laid with optical fibre, though copper is gradually being installed there as well.
In September 2004, BT Wholesale removed the distance requirement for 500 kbit/s ADSL, engaging instead in a "suck it and see" approach — connecting the line first, then observing if ADSL service would be had. This oftentimes involves fitting a filtered faceplate on the user's master socket, so as to remove low quality telephone extension cables within the user's household, a potential cause of high frequency interference.
Previously, most household customers utilized packages with 500 kbit/s (downstream) and 250 kbit/s (upstream) with a 50:1 contention ratio. But BT Wholesale introduced an alternative scheme of billing ISPs whereby the price of the wholesale service did not vary with the rate of ADSL data, but was determined instead by how much data was transmitted. Currently, almost all household customers utilize a package with data rate similar to the technical restrictions of their telephone line. That usually meant 2 Mbit/s downstream. Now, almost all home users use ADSL Max services.
After successful trials were held, BT launched the higher speed services dubbed BT ADSL Max and BT ADSL Max Premium in March 2006. The "Max" service was made accessible to more than 5300 exchanges, which covered about 99% of UK homes and companies. The two Max services has downstream data speeds of up to 7.15 Mbit/s. Upstream data speeds may reach 400 kbit/s for the regular service 750 kbit/s for the premium service.
In practice, the downstream data speed had is still dependent on the technical restrictions of the line. Contingent on the steady ADSL synchonisation speed agreed on, BT's system imposes any one of the following preset rate limits: 160 kbit/s, 250 kbit/s, 500 kbit/s, 7.0 Mbit/s, and a maxium speed of 7.15 Mbit/s.
Contention ratios are not reported formally either, but corporate services will normally have less level of contention compared to household services. This results from putting together household and corporate services into one unified, but bigger, virtual lane.
On August 13, 2004 the Advertising Standards Authority ordered the ISP Wanadoo (which used to be called Freeserve and is now named Orange SA in the UK) to modify the mode by which they promote their 512 kbit/s broadband product in the country, taking out the terms "full speed" which competitors said was deceptive as it makes customers believe it was the swiftest product on the market.
Also, on April 9, 2003 the Advertising Standards Authority decided against ISP NTL, stating that NTL's 128 kbit/s cable modem service should not be promoted as "broadband". Ofcom revealed in June 2005 that broadband finally outnumbered dial-up connections. In the third quarter of 2005, NTL and Telewest formed a new union which ended up having the biggest chuck of the broadband market. This new formation resulted in large expansion of bandwidth allocations for clients of cable services together with the integrated product delivery such as Digital TV and Phone combinations.
In March 2006, BT Wholesale introduced to the UK its up to 8 Mbit/s ADSL products, called Max ADSL. Max based combinations are being offered to consumers linked to a broadband-capable exchange anywhere in Britain. From 2003 onwards, BT has been fitting SDSL to exchanges in large number of the big cities. Available services have upload/download speeds of 256 kbit/s, 512 kbit/s, 1 Mbit/s or 2 Mbit/s. While ADSL normally have 256 kbit/s upload, the upload rates of SDSL are equal to the download rate. BT ordinarily gives a new copper pair for SDSL installations, whose use is restricted to the SDSL network. Costing some hundreds of pounds per quarter, SDSL is definitely more pricey than ADSL, but is appreciably less expensive than a rented line. SDSL is offered to corporate users and features low contention ratios, and sometimes, a Service Level Agreement. Currently, there has been a delay in BT Wholesale’s effort to deploy SDSL, largely because there are few interested clients.
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