Video: Inside the extraordinary York house at the heart of the fight to fix Britain’s broadband

YouTube gamer sensation Ashley Mariee sees her Call Of Duty kill rate go through the roof on the ultrafast broadband
22 Sep 2016 @ 7.49 pm
| Business, News

From the outside it looks like a very ordinary York house.

A modern, brick built terrace behind a small front garden, it is found on a quiet street a short distance away from the outer ring road in Rawcliffe.

But appearances can be deceptive.

Go through the front door and you find this house is anything but ordinary.

You are projected into a futuristic world where the front room is filled with multiple TV screens, all streaming content from the internet.

Upstairs there’s a home office and a teenager’s bedroom, each with every manner of modern device hooked up to the same lightning broadband speeds.

Welcome to the York Lighthouse.

Vision of the future

The fibre optic cable goes straight into your house
The fibre optic cable goes straight into your house

Unlike normal lighthouses shining a light out to sea, this one is beaming out a vision of the future.

It looks ahead to a time where everybody has access to internet speeds of around 1Gb – 100 times faster than standard broadband. And when everyone in the family can be downloading, uploading and streaming simultaneously with no delays or buffering.

And it is the unofficial HQ of the national Fix Britain’s Internet campaign.

For the first time in ten years, telecoms regulator Ofcom is giving the public the opportunity to have their say on the future of the UK’s internet.

Both Ofcom and MPs recognise that BT-owned Openreach, the UK’s national internet network, is in need of radical change. So the Fix Britain’s Internet campaign has been launched by an industry coalition comprising Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and the Federation of Communication Services.

The idea is to give everyone the chance to email Ofcom directly to demand faster, more reliable broadband.

You have 12 more days to respond – and can go here to make your voice heard.

Great for Beyoncé fans

Richard Sinclair outside the York Lighthouse
Richard Sinclair outside the York Lighthouse

The York Lighthouse demonstrates what broadband could be: lightning fast and unaffected by the number of devices connected.

Run by TalkTalk, Lighthouse-style connectivity is already enjoyed by many York householders. So called UFO – or ultra fibre optic broadband – has been nationally piloted in areas including Rawcliffe and Huntington.

“It’s broadband as it should be,” said Richard Sinclair, general manager of ultrafast broadband at TalkTalk.

“To me the benefit of ultra fibre optic is that it’s always there, at speeds and capacity that means whatever you want to do and whatever your family wants to do, you can.”

Only two per cent of users have access to ultrafast broadband, he said. That makes them the lucky ones – literally in some cases.

“There was a lady who told us she was able to buy her daughter Beyoncé tickets because, with the reduced latency on her broadband connection, she was able to get straight through and get the tickets.

“And she’d been trying for a number of years to see Beyoncé.”

Gamers killing it

Daniel Kerr and Ashley Mariee hit the York games consoles
Daniel Kerr and Ashley Mariee hit the York games consoles

To prove the power of the new service TalkTalk invited two gamers to the York Lighthouse. One was Ashley Mariee, whose YouTube channel brings in millions of hits.

The other was Daniel Kerr, a York gamer who has been connected to UFO broadband for the best part of a year.

They played Call Of Duty live against global competitors, first on a console connected to normal speed internet, and then on one hooked up to the ultrafast broadband.

For Ashley the difference was a matter of virtual life and death. Her verdict

It’s so much quicker than the game I was playing last time on the slow internet. I’m actually getting kills this time!

She can see huge advantages if everyone had access to Lighthouse-style speeds.

“A lot of YouTubers in the UK do complain about the upload speed. Because you go to places like America and it’s ten times faster that what you can get in the UK.

“So I think it would be amazing, one for professional gamers, two for YouTubers in general, and three for businesses to work more efficiently.”