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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 December 2007, 09:20 GMT
Net users 'want film downloads'
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What are people doing online?
Net users in the UK have rated the ability to download DVD-quality films quickly as the service they most want from next-generation broadband.

In a survey conducted by Broadbandchoices.co.uk, users put it ahead of video calls, High Definition video downloads and home surveillance.

Some 18% said they downloaded films although it was the online activity they devoted the least time to. The most popular activities are still sufing and checking e-mail.

Some 61% rated "downloading DVD quality films in five minutes" as the most interesting application for future broadband services.

The survey was intended to get a feel from what consumers may want from next-generation broadband in the light of recent questions about how and when the UK should move to super-fast services.

WHAT FUTURE SERVICES DO PEOPLE WANT?
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Downloading DVD quality film in five minutes - 61%
Downloading high definition TV programmes on demand - 48%
Video calling to friends/family over the internet - 46%
CCTV home surveillance via broadband - 42%
High defnition gaming services - 19%

However, there was uncertainty over how whether people would be prepared to pay extra for such services, with 60% responding either no or don't know.

The services people rated the most exciting drivers of next-generation broadband were the ones they spent the least time on currently.

"From our results it does appear a little contradictory that respondents rated 'watching TV' or downloading films as being the least amount of time spent on the internet in a week and yet when asked which future service would be of most interest rated them as the most popular," said Michael Phillips, product director at BroadbandChoices.co.uk.

"It could be that current services are not at a high enough standard to warrant utilising video services. If speeds were improved, consumers are more likely to use broadband to watch TV and/or download films," said Mr Phillips.

Gaming

Regulator Ofcom is in the middle of a consultation on the issue future net services while MPs hosted a Westminster eForum on the issue two weeks ago, which was followed up by a broadband summit, hosted by minister for competitiveness Stephen Timms.

The issue hinges on whether the UK is falling behind the rest of the world, where fibre networks capable of delivering speeds of up to 100Mbps are starting to become commonplace.

In South Korea, one of the world's most advanced nations when it comes to super-fast broadband, some 90% percent of homes can get connections between 50 and 100Mbps.

The biggest driver there is gaming where some 43% percent have a presence in the online gaming world.

In the UK, it is hoped that video, and particularly high-definition video, will drive services.

Current issues

WHAT DO PEOPLE DO WITH CURRENT BROADBAND
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100% check email
98% surf/shop/bank
56% watch video clips
49% play online games
46% download music and films
37% listen to the radio
28% watch TV programmes

Virgin Media has pledged to upgrade its cable network - which reaches more than 50% of the population - by the end of next year while BT is considering the option of rolling out a limited fibre network.

BT and Ofcom have stated in recent weeks that there is no clear demand for more bandwidth from consumers.

"With consumer demand for upgrading the UK's broadband infrastructure being unclear there may even be some advantage in the UK holding back on broadband development in the short term and instead keep track on broadband progress in other countries to help us learn from their experiences," said Mr Phillips.

There are many who think the most important job is to sort out current broadband speeds, where there is a huge disparity between advertised speeds and the speeds people are actually getting.

A report from consumer group Which earlier in the year found that some customers on so-called 8Mbps packages actually get less than 1Mbps.

Ofcom's own speeds tests found that the average customer got 39% of their promised speed.

Factors that affect the speed users get include the distance they are from the exchange and the quality of wiring within their home.

"We need transparency from providers on the kind of speeds customers can actually expect to get, rather than flashy advertising and ever increasing top speeds and this needs to be carried forward with the future of broadband," said Mr Phillips.





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