I spoke briefly to an executive in the telecoms industry yesterday. I mentioned that many people I spoke to had seen a fall in broadband performance (based on anecdotal evidence). He suggested the biggest problem is the change in the type of applications that people are using, and cited the BBC iPlayer as an example. I don’t know why this simple thought hadn’t occurred to me but it makes perfect sense. I feel a bit daft having not jumped to that conclusion myself.
Even the simplest websites increasingly include sound and video clips, animated introductions, and large graphics, all of which take advantage of the increasing bandwidth available to users. That’s fine when just a few people are using those rich-media sites while the majority browse email or train times. But when the rich-media applications — such as the iPlayer — go mainstream, the experience degrades for everyone as the pipes clog up.
All the points I have made previously about our creaking national broadband infrastructure remain, but I now believe the problem is going to worsen quickly. All the more reason for us to begin the painful and expensive process of rolling out fibre optic connections to the home, before all the clever business models we have built on the availability of broadband data begin to collapse.