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Developments in the UK broadband sector have left millions of Britons bamboozled by technical jargon, a new study has shown, despite enormous take-up for broadband connections over the last five years.

In a survey of 3,000 consumers, 44 per cent admitted they were unsure what the word mega-bit means. Meanwhile, 18 per cent of respondents confessed to being unsure as to what broadband is and 45 per cent are similarly ignorant as to what a mobile broadband dongle does.

Furthermore, some 53 per cent thought that broadband depended on delivery by a fixed telephone line. This is despite the growth of mobile broadband, which is delivered over 3G mobile phone networks, into a mass market product and the fact that fibre optic broadband is now available in urban areas.

Ill-founded notions around broadband speeds were also widely held by consumers. Among the sample, 16 per cent erroneously believe that ADSL broadband can deliver faster connection speeds than fibre optic broadband. Additionally, 71 per cent were unaware that only people who live within a 3km radius of a telephone exchange can expect to receive the broadband connection speeds typically promised in advertisements from ADSL broadband providers.

In order to tackle the problem of ignorance over broadband, Sir Richard Branson has announced plans to launch Virgin Media ‘Broadband Schools’. The scheme, which will initially operate on a pilot basis, is to commence in the cities which the study revealed had the least knowledge of broadband.

Sir Richard said: “As many of you may know I’ve never been terribly technical and I’m not at all ashamed to say that I’m probably a prime candidate for a Broadband School.

“I’m not alone, there are thousands of people in the same boat, and the only way they will ever learn is if things are kept simple. At Virgin Media we want everyone to feel comfortable asking questions, no matter how silly they think they are, so that they can get the most out of their internet service and enjoy everything the internet has to offer.”

Virgin’s study and proposed tuition for non-technically minded Britons are intended to promote its 50Mb fibre optic broadband service to the wider public who may be unaware of its benefits it can offer them.

Launched late last year, the 50Mb service offers faster download times as well as the chance to enjoy uninterrupted smooth streaming of video and watch television in high definition.

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