4G? What about the 5th generation?

With the announcement that 4G is confirmed for rollout across the UK later this year, what does the future hold for mobile data services?

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BT broadband 'not impacting on rural communities'

BT is "not impacting on rural communities" despite winning all of the rural broadband contracts from the Government, the head of an influential committee has said.

Labour's Margaret Hodge warned other competitors "might be squeezed out" of the rural broadband market by BT's dominance.

Whilst BT claims it is making further concessions, this is not impacting on rural communities.

Local authorities are still contractually prevented from sharing information to see if they are securing best terms for the public money they spend.

Communities can still not access the detailed data they need to understand whether they will be covered by BT's scheme in their area.

Other broadband providers might be squeezed out of the rural market by BT's actions.

– Margaret Hodge

Read: BT accused of rural broadband monopoly

BT accused of rural broadband monopoly

BT has an "effective monopoly" over rural broadband after the Government awarded all of the 44 contracts from the £1.2bn scheme to the telecommunications giant, a group of influential MPs has said.

Read: Children's education affected by 'slow internet speeds'

Broadband
BT's position as a monopoly supplier should have raised a "red flag", PAC said. Credit: PA

Read: 'Rural penalty' marring country life

In another another scathing report of the rural broadband scheme the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the way it had been set up "failed to deliver meaningful competition".

This meant BT had been put in a strong position by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) making it more difficult for customers to insist on value for money, according to PAC.

Margaret Hodge, who chairs PAC, said: "Since our hearing in July last year, when 26 of the 44 contracts to deliver this were with BT, all remaining contracts have now also gone to BT.

"Despite our warnings last September, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has allowed poor cost transparency and the lack of detailed broadband rollout plans to create conditions whereby alternative suppliers may be crowded out."

Read: BT's 'near monopoly' of rural broadband attacked by MPs

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Ofcom: Voluntary Broadband code 'working effectively'

Ofcom have defended internet providers after reviewing the ability of companies like BT and Sky to stick to a voluntary code of practice.

A spokeswoman for the industry watchdog admitted there were some areas that needed to be "strengthened further" but said "overall the code is working effectively".

Ensuring consumers receive a high quality of service from their broadband provider and are fairly treated are high priorities for Ofcom.

That is why, in 2008, we introduced a broadband speeds voluntary code of practice to ensure consumers are protected...

Mystery shopping conducted last year by Ofcom revealed that, overall, the code is working effectively.

We have, however, already identified areas where it might be strengthened further and have discussed improvements with providers to better serve consumers.

We expect to publish a revised code of practice in the coming months.

– An Ofcom spokeswoman

'36% of broadband users' have sporadic connection

Over a third of broadband customers said they have an internet connection which frequently drops out, a survey from Which? revealed.

According to the consumer group:

  • One in seven have not been able to connect to the internet at all on more than one occasion.
  • Of the 45% experiencing slow speeds, 58% said this was a frequent or constant problem.
  • Poor customer service was also exposed by the survey - Around one quarter (27%) have waited more than two days for after reporting a loss for anything to be done.
  • Some 11% waited a week or more.
  • The watchdog found 31% who contacted their provider with a problem did not get a resolution at all.

Read: Internet customers 'charged for speeds they cannot get'

Internet customers 'charged for speeds they cannot get'

Broadband companies have been accused of charging some customers for speeds they are not able to get, with nearly half of people suffering from a slow connection, according to a consumer group.

Read: EE apologises for overnight signal outage

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Broadband customers are paying extra for a poor service, Which? said. Credit: PA

Read: Children's education affected by 'slow internet speeds'

Which? found 63% of the 2,012 broadband users quizzed experienced problems with their internet and 45% suffer through slow download speeds.

They are calling on providers to give their customers "the speed and service they pay for".

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "The internet is an essential part of modern life, yet millions of us are getting frustratingly slow speeds and having to wait days to get reconnected when things go wrong.

"It's less superfast broadband, more super slow service from companies who are expecting people to pay for speeds they may never get."

Read: Small business £100m boost to install fast broadband

Report: Cash 'wasted on unwatched paid-for TV'

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of those questioned said they have no idea how much internet data they actually use as part of entertainment bundles they pay for, while almost a third of respondents (29%) do not know what capacity they are paying for.

Although an increasing number of consumers are putting their hands in their pockets to pay for additional online streaming services, there is still a considerable amount of cash wasted on paid-for TV channels which go unwatched.

People should regularly assess their viewing habits to ensure they are getting value for money from their TV service.

– Guy North Freeview director

The cost of TV "wastage" - the amount spent on paid-for channels that are going unwatched - has decreased since last year.

With the cost of TV entertainment within a bundle averaging at £22 per month in 2014, households are spending £195.35 annually on unwatched TV channels.

The report was issued by the Post Office and Freeview.

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Spending on entertainment bundles hits record levels

The amount households spend on entertainment bundles has increased to record levels, a national review of internet users' spending habits has shown.

Spending on entertainment bundles hits record levels. Credit: Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press/Press Association Images

Vision and Value 2014 - an examination of television, broadband and home phone usage among consumers who choose to bundle the services - found that monthly spending on bundles has increased since 2013, costing each household an average of £50 per month.

This equates to an overall national spend of £3.3 billion - the highest it has ever been.

The report also found that almost one in five UK bundle users is spending an additional £10 per month for online TV subscriptions.

UK on track for superfast broadband 'by 2017'

The Government has dodged suggestions more needs to be done to support families living in rural areas by installing better broadband connection.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey defended the Government's plans to install superfast broadband to "95% of the UK by 2017".

Government knows how vital broadband can be to people's daily lives and what an important role it plays in education, from schoolchildren being able to do their homework to accessing information.

We are making sure that thousands of people across the country, particularly in rural areas, are getting access to superfast broadband.

We are well on track to deliver superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017.

– Communications Minister Ed Vaizey

Read: Rural pupils 'risk falling behind' children in the city

Rural pupils 'risk falling behind' children in the city

Some 20% of families reliant on the internet for their children's education have found they cannot access online resources because of poor broadband connection, a report has found.

Read: Rural broadband plans criticised

Broadband
More and more "educational resources" are going online, the rural affairs specialist for NFU Mutual said. Credit: PA

Read: 'Rural penalty' marring country life

Research carried out by insurers NFU Mutual found one in five of 1,600 parents quizzed were having to make more phone calls because of poor broadband connection.

Tim Price, rural affairs specialist for NFU Mutual, said: "As more educational resources become internet-based, country children risk falling behind their urban counterparts.

"Studying via the internet is now a key part of children's education and it's unfair that learning opportunities are being affected by slow internet speeds."

Read: Small business £100m boost to install fast broadband

Small business offered grants for high speed broadband

The announcement of small business grants for high speed broadband coincides with the Small Business Saturday initiative promoting the firms Mr Cameron described as the "lifeblood of our economy".

Up to £3,000 of broadband vouchers for small business in these cities is not only a massive boost for growth in the UK, but also has the potential to bring China to Cardiff, Brazil to Bristol and the Emirates to Edinburgh in an increased export market.

To do that we are working on a complete overhaul of the UK's infrastructure; high speed broadband is a vital part of this. And on Small Business Saturday, what better way to support small businesses - the lifeblood of our economy - than to help kit them out for the 21st century.

– Prime Minister David Cameron
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