Sky launches Ultrafast broadband ’12 times faster’ than its standard package

Sky has launched a new Ultrafast broadband offering it claims is 12 times faster than its current standard package.

The Sky Broadband Ultrafast 1 and Sky Broadband Ultrafast 2 packages sport average download speeds of 145Mbps and 285Mbps respectively, and start from £39 and £49 per month on an 18 month contract.

Megabits per second (Mbps) refer to the rate at which data is downloaded and uploaded over an internet connection.

Poor Wi-Fi is costing Britons billions each year (Photo: Pexels)
Poor Wi-Fi is costing Britons billions each year (Photo: Pexels)

More than 2m UK homes should have access to the first package, with around 1.2m households able to sign up to Ultrafast 2 as Sky rolls out availability throughout 2019 and into next year.

The company claimed the packages will offer guaranteed minimum download speeds of 100Mbps and 150Mbps even at peak times – significantly faster than average speeds reached in the UK.

Ultrafast 1’s average upload speeds will average 27Mbps, while Ultrafast 2 will deliver 45Mbps.

The UK’s internet speeds rank 34th out of 207 countries and territories across the world, data collected earlier this year by Cable and M-Lab found, trailing countries including Madagascar, Jersey, Sweden and Singapore.

Mean download speeds were reported as 22.37Mbps, up from 18.57Mbps the previous year, while downloading a 5GB film took around 30 minutes 31 seconds on average.

Downloading a full HD film over an Ultrafast connection would take under four minutes, Sky claimed.

Does your home have a patchy internet connection? (Photo: Pexels)
Does your home have a patchy internet connection? (Photo: Pexels)

Poor Wi-Fi coverage in British homes forces consumers to pay £2.2bn annually to compensate for their patchy connections, a recent study from the HomeOwners Alliance and real estate connectivity certifier WiredScore found.

Around 85 per cent of home owners and renters in Britain have experienced problems connecting to their home Wi-Fi, with each person on average spending £153 each year on additional mobile data to access the internet.

Britons pay for an extra 2.2GB of mobile data each month, equating to 30GB at a total cost of £153 over the course of a year.

The average home broadband download speed reached over 50 Mbps (Megabits per second) for the first time in 2018, according to industry watchdog Ofcom, though significant differences between performance strength between urban and rural areas – where coverage is still often poor – remains.

Download speeds increased 18 per cent on the previous year to 54.2 Mbps, while average upload speeds increased by 15 per cent to 7.2 Mbps, it found, attributed to more widespread availability and take-up of superfast and ultrafast fibre and cable broadband services.

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Three launches 5G home broadband from £35 a month

Three has become the UK’s first mobile network to launch its 5G home broadband, which it claims will be more than twice as fast as its rivals.

The telecoms company has switched on its 5G home broadband service for homes in London with its mobile network expected to follow “later in the year”.

The boroughs of Camden, Camberwell and Southwark will be the first areas the service will be available in, followed by Islington, Hackney and Tower Hamlets in the next few weeks.

A journalist takes pictures of a projection screen prior to the start of Germany's auction for the construction of an ultra-fast 5G mobile network on March 19, 2019 at the German Federal Network Agency (BNA, Bundesnetzagentur) in Mainz, western Germany. - Germany launched the action as a transatlantic dispute rages over security concerns surrounding giant Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei. '5G' -- 'fifth generation' -- is the latest, high-speed generation of cellular mobile communications and Berlin will require winning bidders to offer 5G service to at least 98 percent of German households and along motorways and rail lines. (Photo by Arne Dedert / dpa / AFP) / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read ARNE DEDERT/AFP/Getty Images)
5G is now live in certain cities across the UK (Photo: ARNE DEDERT/AFP/Getty Images)

EE was the first network to switch on its 5G mobile network on 30 May, while Vodafone launched its own on 3 July.

Unlike other forms of broadband, Three’s HomeFi Unlimited does no require a landline or fibre optic cable, meaning there is no line rental to pay.
Customers will be sent a ‘plug and play’ hub, allowing them to simply plug in the device without having to wait for an engineer to visit their property.

Three plans to to launch both mobile and broadband services to 25 towns and cities across the UK before the end of the year, including Birmingham, Hull, Sheffield and Milton Keynes.
Marc Allera, EE chief executive, at the company's 5G launch event in May (Photo: EE)
Marc Allera, EE chief executive, at the company’s 5G launch event in May (Photo: EE)
5G, the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, will facilitate super-fast download speeds between 10 and 20 times faster than current 4G mobile connections, and increased reliability and connectivity.

Ofcom worked alongside European spectrum regulators to identify the radio frequency bands which will enable the use of 5G across Europe, known as spectrum, which telecoms companies bid for last year.

As Three holds more than twice as much spectrum as its nearest rival Vodafone, the company can offer its customers speeds more than twice as fast as other operators and a more reliable connection, Three claimed.
‘True’ 5G requires 100 MHz (megahertz, the unit of measurement for radio wave frequencies) of 5G spectrum, according to the ITU global 5G standards body.
Three holds 140 MHz of 5G spectrum, followed by Vodafone’s 50 MHz, while both EE and O2 hold 40 MHz, Three asserted.
The communications regulator plans to hold another two auditions for addition 5G spectrum in late 2019 or early 2020.
Three’s 5G cities and towns
London
Birmingham
Bolton
Bradford
Brighton
Bristol
Cardiff
Coventry
Derby
Edinburgh
Glasgow
Hull
Leeds
Leicester
Liverpool
Manchester
Middlesbrough
Milton Keynes
Nottingham
Reading
Rotherham
Sheffield
Slough
Sunderland
Wolverhampton

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Andy Street: Making connections to change our region

Andy Street is Mayor of the West Midlands, and is a former Managing Director of John Lewis.

When the Prime Minister gave his first speech at the Manchester Science and Industry Museum on July 27, he spoke of the “basic ingredients of success for the UK”.

He spoke about culture, liveability, responsibility in power and accountability – but the subject that resonated most with the experiences of the West Midlands was his belief in the power of connections.

He said: “Inspiration and innovation, cross fertilisation between people, literally and figuratively, cannot take place unless people can bump into each other, compete, collaborate, invent and innovate.”

The West Midlands provides a case study for the UK in how connectivity can transform an area by linking its communities, its geography, its businesses and its people. In the UK’s most diverse region, this commitment to connection is a key part of the new Urban Conservatism we are building here, which is winning support.

In a region spread across the seven boroughs of Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton, connectedness has been vital in building a sense of unity. Most obviously, huge investment in our transport network is allowing our communities to physically meet.

But as the Prime Minister said, connectedness isn’t just about tramlines and buses, it’s about encouraging the sharing of ideas to drive growth – and it’s as old as the hills.

Successful city states – going back to the Italian Renaissance and beyond – flourish by bringing people together to drive social and economic progress through greater understanding and innovation. The lesson of history is that places that unite different cultures to distil their ideas and harness their ambition are successful, be it 18th century London or 20th century New York.

Here, that ambition means connecting an increasing number of economic hotspots. From the cluster around the NEC known as ‘UK Central’ to the massive Phoenix 10 brownfield reclamation scheme in the Black Country, the resurgent economy in the West Midlands is creating jobs that require connectivity. Investment in public transport is building an arterial network taking people – and their ideas– into these centres of opportunity.

But the real lesson of the West Midlands story is how we are learning to connect people, not places. The Mayor’s Community Weekend, for example, brought tens of thousands of people together over 165 events through a partnership between the West Midlands Combined Authority and the National Lottery Community Fund. A hundred workplaces joined in with the Mayor’s Giving Day, encouraging charity in all forms. My Faith Action Plan brings together different faiths. We are even connecting the generations through my Cricket Cup at Edgbaston on September 8, which will see grandparents and grandchildren take the field together.

In such a diverse place, these soft social initiatives solidify to bind the connections we make, simply by getting involved. The alternative to connectedness is isolation, which breeds intolerance. It’s critical to stand against intolerance of any kind, whether it’s racial, religious or the kind of schools protest against equality teaching we have seen in Birmingham.

We are also making great strides in closing divisions in our communities to improve social mobility. In 2007, 20% of our young people left school with no qualifications, a figure that has been brought down to 11% through retraining in areas like digital and construction, and growth in modern apprenticeships.

That’s being helped by a unique feature in the West Midlands – the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Scheme, which allows us to spend the unused apprenticeship levy paid by big firms more sensibly. Closing skills gaps like this is another way that we promote connectedness across and within our communities.

Connectivity in a more literal sense can be achieved through technology. I was encouraged by the PM’s commitment in his candidacy to speed up the roll-out of Fibre Broadband across the country. This kind of quick expansion is vital if we are to ensure that no areas are left disconnected from digital opportunities through under-investment.

However, with 5G coming first to our region, we aren’t prepared to wait for connections to spark innovation. Just a few weeks ago a ground-breaking trial here hinted at what can be achieved with 5G, when we linked local ambulances to doctors in A&E in real-time. The same technological connectivity is driving our automotive sector in its ambition to become the UK capital of driverless vehicles.

Sitting as we do at the heart of England, the West Midlands is positioned to benefit from the Prime Minister’s ambition to better connect the nation and rebalance the economy. As the PM said, “We need to literally and spiritually unite Britain, and that means boosting growth and bringing our regions together.”

To me, there is no greater instrument for this ambition than HS2 – the single piece of investment that will unlock millions of pounds of transport and housing infrastructure our region desperately needs.

Sites like the new tram line from East Birmingham to Solihull are indelibly linked to HS2. We have a target to ensure local people are never more than 45 minutes from a HS2 station, and schemes such as reopening closed railway lines and the impressive Sutton Coldfield Gateway have been meticulously planned around this major investment by the Government to sew our country together. Without it we are definitely poorer.

Connections need to be international too. As Michael Heseltine pointed out in this report ‘Empowering English Cities’, which was commissioned by the West Midlands Combined Authority, the underperformance of our major cities on the world stage is a critical problem that must be solved if we are to balance our economy.

However, this does not mean adopting an adversarial position to competing city regions like Rotterdam, Lyon, Frankfurt, Milan, Chicago and Sapporo, it means ensuring that we have the global connections to take in the best ideas and turn them to our own advantage.

This crucible of cultures concept is the very purpose of the civic university, and you will not find a better example than Chamberlain’s University of Birmingham – which is why our universities must, post-Brexit, continue to welcome International students. They literally connect us to the world and the ideas developing beyond our shores.

Travel opportunities are also important in nurturing our global position. Birmingham Airport has its sights set beyond the Brexit horizon with continued growth in passenger numbers. Work is due to start on its T18 project – named because it will create a terminal that can handle 18 million passengers a year, a rise of nearly 40% on the previous record, achieved in 2017.

HS2 makes this project even more important, as the airport will only be 38 minutes away from Euston, much quicker to get to from North London than both Heathrow and Gatwick.

Finally, I consider my own role as Mayor of the West Midlands to be one of connectivity. Overseeing a region where Labour control the majority of local authorities has meant that my job has often been about providing the glue that holds us all together, encouraging teamwork. In the UK’s youngest, most diverse area, this Urban Conservative approach is paying dividends politically as we attempt to make more of our constituent authorities Conservative.

This kind of inclusive Conservative leadership is where the party must be – and we are looking to Prime Minister Johnson, as the former Mayor of Britain’s mega city, to understand this and follow it through in Government. The Prime Minister will know what a Conservative Mayor in an urban region can achieve through physically connecting people – whether it’s through social connections, transport connections or digital connections – and I hope he will be considering how we can replicate this across the country.

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