The weather may have bought many parts of Britain to a standstill, but broadband is making it easier for people to work from home.
And Ofcom, the communications regulator, says that almost 17 million homes now have a broadband connection.
Although, many have access to broadband, many do not get even get half of the “up to” speed offered by broadband providers. This generally applies to users on ADSL type connections through a BT line. Those with Virgin Media fibre-based broadband tend to fare better, with the higher maximum speeds and without the limitation of the landline where speed is subject to the distance from an exchange.
However, in October Ofcom announced measures to support further investment and competition in super-fast broadband, including allowing competitors to utilise BT’s new fibre-based broadband footprint (currently in deployment) as well as gaining access to ducts and poles for difficult-to-reach rural areas.
Mobile broadband has also helped to fuel a boom in remote Internet access. Users can now buy a USB mobile broadband dongle on pay as you go, or on pay monthly starting from under £10 per month. A quick and compact option that gets users online in minutes anywhere they have a mobile signal.
Road, airport and public transport closures due to the weather have meant that many have been unable to get into work. A tube strike was also in place last Monday (29 November 2010), meaning further chaos for London travellers.
Increasingly however, employers are allowing their workers to work from home, assuming they have broadband access. It provides workers with more flexilibity as well as cutting out the stress of having to travel in adverse weather conditions.