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New speed record shows UK broadband up
by Richard Powell at 16:49 10/03/03 (IT)
Scientists at US and Dutch research laboratories have sent and received data equivalent to two DVD films to each other in under a minute, but campaigners say it adds to UK broadband embarrassment.
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  • The US team transferred un-compressed data at 923 megabits per second for 58 seconds from Sunnyvale to Amsterdam — a distance of almost 6,800 miles.

    The transfer speed is more than 3,500 times as fast as a typical home Internet broadband connection, the US team at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre (SLAC) confirmed.

    US IT hardware giant, Cisco Systems, loaned the teams $1 million of equipment for several months while they attempted to break the existing speed record.

    US and Dutch teams celebrate, but more embarrassment for UK
    Les Cottrell, Assistant Director of SLAC, said there was a wealth of potential uses for ultra fast connections, outside of Web and email usage.

    “Doctors at multiple sites sharing and discussing a patient's cardio-angiographs to diagnose and plan treatment, or disaster recovery experts sharing information across the globe in near real-time to develop recovery and relief plans would be major potential applications," he said.

    Other applications include digital libraries, virtual laboratories and distance learning.

    Andy Williams, spokesman for the pressure group, Broadband for Britain, said pushing the limits of broadband technology was exciting, but added that the UK is beginning to lose out by not keeping up.

    "We are losing face in front of the rest of the world when international teams like these manage to produce such extraordinary results and we are struggling with basic coverage," he said.

    "There isn't an IT company in the world that doesn't have a major Research and Development operation somewhere in the UK, with companies like Microsoft virtually owning half of Cambridge university. But how much longer are world leaders like these going to want to stay here when other countries are producing results like these, and we are still languishing behind?" Mr Williams queried.

    "We're still struggling to roll out anything past half Meg connections outside of cities and many smaller businesses who place themselves in these in order to keep their rates down are losing out as a consequence. Also, there are a lot of broadband enabled networks in areas of cities where no one has taken the service up. The UK has to take the issue more seriously."

    Mr Williams said the DTI in Westminster should be red-faced at its track record on broadband roll-out, adding that devolved Governments in Wales and Scotland had been "powering ahead" with providing the service to businesses and individuals in the regions.

    South Korea remains the world leader in broadband coverage and connections speeds.

    Ten million of South Korea's 14.3 million households have 2 Mbps broadband connections - what the UK calls 'business broadband' - paying 60-80 per cent of the price UK consumers pay for a 500 Kbps 'standard' connection.

    The South Korean Government and private providers are now introducing 'VDSL', which offers subscribers connection speeds of 20 Mbps.

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    Richard Powell, © Shout99.com 2003

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