Internet networks ready for higher speeds
Improved high speed broadband internet for Bermuda is on the horizon with Bermuda Telephone Company (BTC) proposing to introduce access speeds of 50 Mbps (megabit per second) and 100 Mbps.
Presently the best residential internet speeds on the Island are 25 Mbps.
That could change in the near future with BTC and Bermuda CableVision both indicating a desire to push forward with greater broadband offerings.
CableVision struck first with a January giveaway prize promotion of 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps for one month only, which was awarded to four customers. However, the company is still in the testing stage as it aims to provide faster residential internet services.
Now BTC has taken a firm step towards delivering a superfast option. It is seeking regulatory approval to offer data-only 50 Mbps at $180 per month, and 100 Mbps at $260, or data, voice and features at $225 and $305 per month, respectively.
While those speeds would not be widely available for some time, the company is seeking the green light from the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda, the telecoms watchdog, in anticipation of future capacity.
“There are a few homes at the moment that we can connect to the fibre optic cables,” said Eric Dobson, BTC’s chief executive officer.
“This is an early beta trial for this product.”
BTC is an internet access provider, but if a proposed buyout by Digicel that was announced in January is approved by the Regulatory Authority it would create an organisation capable of bundling access and internet connection services.
Mr Dobson said he was aware of at least one Island internet service provider (ISP) that is working on providing residential internet speeds of 50 and 100 Mbps.
“It is not something that everyone would need or could afford,” he said.
“In other countries speeds of 100 Mbps are available but there is not a huge tick-up rate for it. It tends to be used by people who work at home and require a high level of bandwidth. It’s a niche product.”
However, in the fast-moving world of online services, the demand for greater bandwidth is a clear trend.
“We have a 25 Mbps product and at the moment we are finding the demand for that is going up,” he said.
BTC has a fibre optic network in place that covers the Island, but it terminates at the neighbourhood level. The next step, according to the CEO, is to put in place the “last mile portion” of the network to allow direct connection into homes.
“We have to bring the fibre down through poles or conduits. What we are looking at is pushing it closer to homes; taking the fibre ‘to the curb’ and then we can bring it into homes.”
At speeds below 10 Mbps, the company uses traditional copper wires and coaxial cables for internet delivery, above 10 Mbps it uses VDSL2, an enhanced access technology, to deliver faster speeds. BTC hopes it might be possible to push speeds up to 50 Mbps through this infrastructure, which would lessen the need for curb-to-home fibre optic connections.
Price and speed comparisons have shown that internet services in Bermuda tend to be more costly than those available in a number of similar Island jurisdictions.
Graham Pearson, chief executive of the Ignition Group of Technology Companies, said the prices indicated by BTC for the proposed new service were “competitive when compared with Cayman” but higher than the Channel Islands. However, he pointed out that the Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey put caps on data usage per month and then charge per Gb (1,000 megabits).
BTC’s Mr Dobson said that as faster speed services are purchased, the cost per megabit drops. He said that if the deal between Digicel and BTC is approved it would be able to bundle together multiple services and provide more choice.
“There’s no reason why Bermuda should not have a world class internet structure and products,” he added.
CableVision indicated it is working on delivering higher internet speeds, but would not be drawn on when these might be offered.
CEO Terry Roberson said: “At Bermuda CableVision, we have shown that we can deliver higher internet speeds. A prime example of this was over the Christmas season when we gave away 50 and 100 meg broadband internet, the latter which is the fastest residential speed in Bermuda.
“We are not in a position to share pricing for our new services until we are ready to launch.”
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