Football fans (except on Bara) drive up broadband speeds?

Sunday 11th October 2009
England online. Courtesy:

The England international shown exclusively online for the first time-ever – a landmark event in sports broadcasting history. The qualifying match will be hosted on a range of sites and in selected cinemas. But in the event Fewer than half a million people watched England's first game to be broadcast exclusively live over the internet and no detailed viewing figures will be released, the firms behind the move said today. Fans who paid between £5 and £12 to watch the 1-0 World Cup qualifier defeat against Ukraine complained about lack of atmosphere, slow streaming speeds and the lack of licensed premises showing the game. International football agency Kentaro and media group Perform insisted there were "no technical issues". The firms described the number of viewers as "close to half a million." This also includes figures for the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS), which screened the game free for troops, and those who watched in cinemas and online.

Viewers were charged up to £11.99 by rights holders Perform if they sign up on the day of the game. Alternatively, a charge of £4.99 is applicable if they pay in advance. However, widespread slow broadband connection speeds across the UK could render the game unwatchable for millions of paying customers.

This is because watching continuous video online requires a connection of at least 2Mb – a speed that is likely to be well beyond those of millions of fans who live in rural areas. Fans without connections of this speed may suffer interruptions due to the coverage and poor picture quality.

International football matches typically drive huge increases in sales of takeaway food and drinks and England shirts. However, in a sign of changing priorities for sports fans, big games are now driving take up of faster broadband, too.

The trend is born out by figures from Top 10 Broadband showing that in the last three weeks, sales of super-fast broadband packages (broadband speeds above 8Mb) increased by over 30%. Wonder what the cancellation rate will be?

Demand for super-fast products spiked when it was revealed just a week before kick-off that terrestrial and satellite TV networks would not be showing the game.

Alex Buttle, marketing director at Top 10 Broadband, said: “Clearly England fans don’t care if they watch online or on TV, so long as they are sure to see the game. The surge in fast broadband sales shows that football fans are waking up to the fact that the days of guaranteed coverage of centerpiece sports events are no more. A good broadband connection has become as essential to fans as a replica shirt or a fridge of cold beer.”

And much, much more difficult to locate!

Scottish business approach

Downloading files is now twelve times quicker for Lawrence Design  since switching to abica, the business telecoms specialist. “Our previous provider, BT, was only delivering up to a third of the promised 1Mbps download speeds which was useless”, said Keith Lawrence, MD of Glasgow-based marketing communications agency, Lawrence Design.

“On scouring the market for alternatives I contacted abica and they made the transition effortlessly. They have been very helpful and now we are downloading and uploading a minimum of 12Mbps so it’s obviously a huge improvement,” he said.

abica is a 10 year old UK based telecoms operator that focuses solely on the small to medium sized business community. This was important for Keith as dealing with a huge company like BT was ‘something of a nightmare’.

Since making the broadband switch to abica, Keith has made further costs savings by transferring over the company’s entire telecoms, mobile (although Lawrence Design handled an 02 campaign) and landline, giving him a dedicated customer service manager and the facility to analyse, understand and manage his company’s cost of calls.
abica MD, Scott Allison said: “abica is an SME, just like its customers, so we really understand the importance of reliable telecoms and, equally importantly, excellent service.The problems Keith had before switching to us were typical of our customers who were previously with a big telecom provider."

And Bara?
Top 10 Broadband homepage:
Super fast broadband page:
Broadband & digital TV page:
Top 10 Fast Broadband Packages
1 Virgin Media XXL Up to 50Mb (£18.00)
2 Eclipse Home Lite Up to 24Mb (£11.95)
3 Be Unlimited Up to 24Mb (£17.50)
4 O2 Premium Up to 20Mb (£9.79)
5 BT Option 1 Up to 20Mb (£7.78)
6 AOL Wireless Flexi Up to 8Mb (£4.99)
7 Plusnet Value Up to 8Mb (£5.99)
8 TalkTalk Essentials Up to 8Mb (£6.49)

Hang in there Bara!

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