The recent launch of BTâ€™s Total Broadband package has been largely ignored by the IT press. This makes perfect sense if you consider that an ISPâ€™s job is to provide a cable with a certain amount of data bandwidth and a monthly bill, however BT has far grander plans. To show its Total Broadband in action it hired a minimalist designer London flat at the top of a six-storey building. I have little doubt that a letting agent would call the flat an â€˜apartmentâ€™ or possibly a â€˜loftâ€™ as the stairs didnâ€™t go to the top floor, but instead there was a lift with a private key-operated switch, which meant that some poor sod of a PR spent the day operating the key to prevent it being nicked. To the best of my knowledge the difference between an apartment and a loft is about Â£500 per month.
Anyway, it looked lovely inside. Open plan, very bright and white, hidden doors to the bedrooms and cupboards and an open staircase that took you up to a mezzanine floor and the decked balcony. Le Corbusier would have loved it and it is surely no coincidence that Total Broadband is being pushed by, of all organisations, Tate Britain.
The flat suited BT perfectly as no-one would want to mess up its minimalist interior with CAT5 cables while the lack of internal walls makes for a wonderful environment for wireless networking, which is handy as the central feature of Total Broadband is the Home Hub. This is a common-or-garden 802.11g ADSL router that has had the pearlescent white iPod makeover, so you plug in your â€˜up to 8Mbit/secâ€™ ADSL and voila youâ€™ve got 21st Century connectivity.
Well no doubt youâ€™ve already got a router connected to your Cable or ADSL link, and 802.11g is hardly new in these days of G+, MIMO and Pre-802.11n, but the other elements of Total Broadband show some imagination. Thereâ€™s an Internet radio that works well very, although I was surprised that the lady performing the demo hadnâ€™t listened to the radio facility in iTunes, and the bloke with an earnest expression who assured me that on-line gaming with an Xbox 360 would be better over Total Broadband â€˜because BT is a close partner of Microsoftâ€™ was clearly having a laugh, but thatâ€™s the extent of my mockery. The VoIP Softphone is fine provided your PC is on, while the hardware VoIP Hub Phone is a phone that plugs into your Hub, just as the name suggests.
The Homesafe security system with CCTV sounds interesting, and moving Fusion from a Bluetooth connection to Wi-Fi is a sensible revision, although it wonâ€™t make Riyad any happier about the pricing that BT employs. The Videophone is a matter of personal preference, and while it may be inevitable I reckon it has more drawbacks as a concept than a simple voice call.