UK fiber broadband service provider Gigaclear announced this week it will offer 5 Gbps internet service beginning next year. These are speeds that have only been available to large enterprises and research institutes. With this service, the time to download a 1,500MB standard definition video would drop from about 8 minutes to 4 to 6 seconds.
Like the U.S., the UK has a few providers offering 1 Gbps broadband services, from the likes of Hyperoptic and CityFibre, for example. The 80% drop in the cost of running fiber optic cable connections has fueled the emergence of high-speed fiber to the home (FTTH) service. Manufacturers have optimized more flexible fiber optic cable products for low-cost, large-scale deployments. Cable splicing and connection, which required specialists a decade ago, can now be performed by a craftsperson using inexpensive equipment.
Local loop copper remains an option, though. BT trials of its G.Fast copper internet service successfully demonstrated 800Mbps download speeds and 200Mbps upload speeds.
Rural communities that want Gigaclear’s fiber optic internet service must apply for the service and have 30% of the residents willing to sign up. Gigaclear currently serves 25 communities (villages), and 50 more are in development or being built out. Collaborating with communities that want ultra-fast internet worked effectively for Google Fiber.
Gigaclear justifies the high-speed service by pointing to the expected rise in demand in the coming years. Internet traffic is expected to grow 23% per year until 2019, when the number of connected devices is expected to reach three times the human population, according to research from Cisco. Real-time video entertainment continues to consume the dominant share of peak-period internet use, growing from 64% to 69% of the year-over-year increase in downstream traffic, according to Sandvine. Most homes would be hard-pressed to consume data at this rate today, but these speeds will become necessary when over-the-top television services like Netflix and HBO GO become commonplace, television pixel densities grow to 8K (7680p×4320p) at 60 to 120 fps, and the IoT connects every other home device to the internet.
Gigaclear CEO Matthew Hare knows he has a high-end solution on his hands.
“We’re offering customers the chance to access absolutely phenomenal broadband speeds,” Hare said in an announcement on the company’s site. “To be clear, this is a premium service that gives the fastest Internet speeds in the country to those of our customers who want the best connection that they can get.”
Along with premium speeds comes a premium price. For homeowners, the 5 Gbps H5G package is expected to cost £399 per month. The business package costs £1,500 per month. The two offers are differentiated by offering “lower contention” with the business package – whether that means the data or the latency will be capped wasn’t stated.