A history of internet access post 2000 and a look to the future – part two

We established in part one that internet access has been evolving since the millennium. Back in 2000, Dial-up was big but then DSL or ADSL2 became the preferred option and internet usage was starting to sky rocket.

  • 2004

The launch of Facebook in 2004 took the world by storm and introduced people to the digital era and the arrival of YouTube signalled the common place use of online technology by the wider population.

However, consumers and companies alike were starting to feel the very real limitations of the service provided by DSL connectivity. By 2010, throughout the OECD countries, over 90% of internet access subscriptions used broadband and dial up access was on its last legs. Although the preferred option broadband solutions (ADSL and Cable) were becoming frustrating to use and too slow for companies that were increasingly demanding higher usage.

Thankfully, newer technology such as VDSL and optical fibre started to be provided to the general public. Fibre-optic communication, while only recently used in Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) schemes, enabled broadband internet access by allowing the transmission of information at very high rates over long distances.

  • The next step up

The next step up on the connectivity ladder was FTTC. FTTC does what it says on the tin. The data runs at the speed of light through fibre until it reaches the street cabinet where it is translated into slower electrical signals passing across a copper cable into the building. However, the speeds are inconsistent, dropping at peak times and tend to max out at 80mbps.

For quite some time, FTTC was able to handle the increase in demand for internet access as online streaming and online gaming came to the fore.

However, although FTTC has been able to meet the basic requirements of most modern businesses, it can prove sluggish and unreliable for those companies becoming more reliant on cloud services or supporting larger numbers of staff.

The result for larger businesses seeking greater reliability, consistent speeds and crucially, symmetrical upload speeds is that they have had no choice but to opt for a leased line. Typically delivered over pure-fibre, leased lines provide dedicated connectivity to businesses that can’t risk the roller-coaster that is FTTC. This decision comes with a hefty price tag and businesses taking 100mbps leased-lines and faster can find themselves paying thousands of pounds a year. Obviously an alternative to this costly approach will needed to be identified going forward.

Look out for the next post on the history of internet access. Find out what we are doing to bring the next digital revolution to cities.

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