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Broadband providers should 'forget the speed'

Monday, October 27th 2014 by Ellen Branagh

The broadband industry should stop focusing on speeds, but on what those speeds can allow people to do, according to a telecoms boss.

Craig Thomas, director of international field marketing at telecoms equipment company Calix, said education is key in the development of broadband networks across the world.

Mr Thomas, who also said that new competitors in need to challenge "incumbent" service providers to generate progress in Europe, told Cable.co.uk that the industry should focus on what people can do with "superfast" and "ultrafast" broadband, rather than speeds themselves.

He told us: "The worst thing we've done as an industry is talked about everything in terms of speed, like talking about gigabit networks here.

"First of all, the word gigabit is often maybe even the wrong word to use. It's the ability to go to superfast speeds, yes, but speed is just a measuring tool anyway. It's what you're going to do with it that matters.

"You ask Joe Average person, me included, what is 100Mbps, what does it actually mean, what are you going to use 100Mbps for, how does it change your lifestyle?

"What we're seeing around the world is, okay they call it gigabit communities, it's fibre that's enabling speeds to wherever you want to go in the future.

"And often I think it's the word 'communities' that's more important than the speed itself."

Mr Thomas said it is not just the telecoms industry that is responsible for educating people about the advantages of high-speed broadband, but content providers too.

He said: "I think it's moving so quick now, the take-up in iPlayer from the BBC, it's not just the telecoms industry that has to play here, we have to get the likes of the BBCs, we have to get the likes of major social media companies and things like that.

"Forget the speed, what is it that I need to do, what are the applications that are in demand? And then you can make it relative to speed after that.

"Ultra high definition TV - everyone thinks it's miles off. Well, you look at the Sonys of the world, they're selling UHDTV sets now, so they've got a role to play here now.

"Video is the big push, if it's not for video services then 20Mbps may be enough but as soon as you talk about video services whether it's over the top or whether it's e-health video services or whatever then the demand for speed is obvious, but you've got to talk about it in real educational terms, not just,'it's 20Mbps, it's 100, it's a Gig'.

"So yes, education is key, but the schools have a key role in that, the rich media that schooling is using now is just the first part of that as well as the entertainment side.

"Any telecoms provider has a need to educate but he has a need to partner that with the actual content providers as well."

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