We've come a long way since 56k dial-up, and marketers have long taken advantage of the audio-visual capabilities of broadband for advertising (digital media marketing more generically) and not-paid-for influence (digital media relations). You only have to witness the furore created by the online videos seeking to influence the US primaries.

But what is broadband, and where are we going from here?

To quote Connect's excellent report "Connecting Britain's Future - the slow arrival of fast broadband":

So what do we mean then by fast broadband? There is no standard set of definitions, but commonly:

  • narrowband would mean up to 512kbit/s
  • broadband would mean up to 25mbit/s
  • fast broadband would mean anything over 25mbit/s

The common industry term for such fast broadband is NGA - Next Generation Access.

Over sixty people from the communications industry (the other communications industry... the one with the switches, wires and fibres) came together yesterday evening at the Convergence Conversation event I chair, and invested a couple of hours teasing out the complexities of delivering NGA in the UK.

The Broadband Stakeholder Group CEO, Antony Walker, delivered an insightful analysis of the situation in terms of technology, policy, regulation and business model. If you want to know more, I recommend his report "Pipe Dreams? Prospects for next generation access in the UK".

To conclude the event, I decided to take a straw poll of how much bandwidth everyone at the event considered they might be consuming in their own household in 2015. The response was quite varied, with 25% saying that the top end of broadband (by Connect's definition above) would suffice.

On the basis that streaming HDTV quality video over IP consumes 10-12mbit/s, marketers can only begin to imagine today what will be possible with 200mbit/s.  This is much the same leap as trying to envisage back in 1998 how we might use 2mbit/s - bulk standard broadband service by 2008 standards. Influencer dialogue via holographic avatars anyone?