Answer To The Question: What Is Broadband?

What is broadband? Broadband refers to a type of Internet service that is known for its speed. It has become increasingly popular and common in modern times. In fact, most homes in the United Kingdom use this service in order to access the Internet. In general, users are charged on a monthly basis to receive constant connection to the service. There are several different options available when it comes to broadband.

This type of Internet connection is made possible through ADSL line, fibre-optic cable, mobile signal or satellite. Asymmetric digital subscriber line, better known as ADSL, is a broadband that employs the telephone that already exists to deliver the connection. It uses copper BT telephone wiring, a traditional choice, that enters a home and then separates the line into a channel for broadband and voice. This signal is then carried to a telephone exchange located nearest to a property and back to the home. Signal strength is expected to degrade over long distance, as there might be interference. Therefore the speeds that are often advertised by the providers may not always be available.

Cable refers to that which utilizes fibre-optic cables. This allows the providers to deliver a connection with extremely fast download speeds. This is recognized as an improvement and upgrade from the ADSL approach. This usually permits faster and more stable connections.

Mobile gives users the ability to connect wirelessly to the Internet using their mobile phone networks. Currently, the UK employs 3G, also called third generation of standards. However, it is expected to replace 3G with 4G in the coming years. Most people use this from their mobile phones, laptops or tablets. There are many data plans that offer this type of coverage, strictly limiting use to approximately 1 to 2GB per month.

Satellite allows users to connect without having access to a fixed-line connection. Instead, the data is sent via satellite. It is received from a receiver dish and does not have to travel through cords.

Bundling is something that many choose to take advantage of for these types of services. There are some UK providers who offer what is known as quad-play bundles. These feature access to broadband, mobile, home phone and TV. The set up gives customers more value and the convenience of only have one bill a month for multiple services. Compare and contrast the bundle options available through companies in your area.

There are providers who might not offer all such services. If a business does not have a mobile plan and you are not in need of a new phone plan, you might still benefit from bundling through a trip-play package that includes broadband, TV and telephone. Generally, it is much less costly to bundle services rather than paying for each one separately and from different providers.

When signing up for these services, even with bundled packages, expect a contract. Typically these will bind the customer for at least one or two years. This is why it is so important for research to be done to compare the many types available. It is also important that individuals choose a providing company that has good customer ratings and reviews. Deals that are available for individual services or bundles might vary from place to place.

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How To Compare Broadband Plans in the UK

When looking to compare broadband plans in the UK, it is important to take multiple factors into consideration – not just the price. Speed, usage, location and portability all come into play when choosing a new broadband supply.

The first consideration is the use that the internet will actually get. People who spend very little time online, perhaps only checking their emails and performing essential online transactions, require significantly less data allowance than those who will be watching catch up television, streaming music, downloading files and spending hours browsing or researching. Understanding the anticipated usage will allow the customer to make an educated decision as to the size of package they require, rather than paying a premium for service they do not need. For example, 40 hours of general internet surfing of average websites uses approximately 0.3 gigabytes – whilst 40 hours of listening to online radio channels would use in the region of 2.6 gigabytes. Watching a film in High Definition on a streaming service like Netflix or LoveFilm could use as much as 2.8 gigabytes per hour. Having an awareness of the intended use will enable the right choices to be made. Comparing packages that offer what is actually required is much more efficient than comparing a wide range of packages with additional features to confuse the process. Some policies are capped to a monthly download amount, whilst others are unlimited or offer a fair usage policy instead of stated limit.

Speed also makes a difference. Companies offering high speed connections cannot guarantee that all households will receive that speed, nor that it will be sustained throughout the day. During peak evening periods, speeds can be reduced dramatically. Despite promising headline speeds of extremely high download rates, be sure to check with individual suppliers for their coverage in the actual geographical area. Most companies offer a postcode checking service for this. There is little point in paying for high speeds if it is not possible to achieve them in the area. On ASDL broadband, this is even affected by the distance from the exchange, so be sure to check before committing to a contract and be wary when using speed details to compare suppliers if it has not been checked thoroughly.

Finally, don’t be afraid to use customer reviews to compare different company’s service levels. Reviews from existing clients offer insight into the way a company treats their customers, as well as a chance to explore their conflict resolution and dispute handling. Remain aware that many reviews are left by people with a grudge, but if there is a good substantial proportion of satisfied customers then this bodes well for new clients too.

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Which Broadband Benefits Will I See?

Compared to dial up and other limited internet access methods, broadband has an enormous range of benefits. Which broadband advantages are seen by each individual user depends on their personal circumstances, but in general some ideas are central and experienced by everyone.

First and foremost, the main advantage most people cite is that whilst online on a broadband connection, the phone can still be used. Whereas previously dial up internet monopolised the phone line and prevented any incoming or outgoing communications, broadband ‘splits’ the line and does not have this consequence. It forces the telephone and the internet to operate on separate line systems, so there is no interference between the two and the phone does not register as ‘engaged’ for the duration of the internet session. Not only does this mean that information can be browsed whilst discussing options with a friend or family member at the same time, for businesses it means that important work can be performed without missing communications from clients.

It also means that it is possible to stay connected at all times, with emails automatically arriving rather than requiring a specific login, dial and connection in order to update the inbox. Plus, with a monthly payment plan and a clearly defined usage limit (or indeed no limit, with ‘truly unlimited’ options) there are no excess bills at the end of a month and no need to worry about disconnecting to save money.

Broadband connections facilitate much quicker downloads than older methods of accessing the internet. A straight comparison between dial up speed and broadband shows there is no contest. Newer broadband technologies like fibre and cable make it faster yet, though these are not readily accessible in all areas of the country. Still, broadband makes it easy to download music or films and even to stream them directly from a website in real time. For entertainment purposes, this is ideal. Catch up television services use the internet, as do a range of movie streaming options. Faster connections means a more reliable service with these secondary companies.

Whereas some people use the internet for entertainment and pleasure, others use it as an essential tool for organisation and life management. Online banking and shopping are incredibly popular, and with a proper broadband connection these are practically effortless. The internet is facilitating life management on an unprecedented scale, from organisational emails between friends and colleagues, to the fast transfer of important files between home and work or even looking for jobs and homes in the first place.

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Broadband Compare: Unlimited Options

As has been in the news recently, companies have come under increasing scrutiny for their use of the word ‘unlimited’ in their advertising. When looking to broadband compare, understanding just what is meant by the phrase can be incredibly useful.

There are many options within packages described as ‘unlimited’ – many of which are lacking the freedom you might expect from such a term. Today, internet service providers have been forced to distinguish between ‘unlimited’ broadband and ‘truly unlimited’ supply. What seems like a straightforward concept has been made much more complex. In an ideal world, ‘unlimited’ broadband would mean exactly what it says – freedom to use the internet as much as required, without facing additional fees, restrictions or usage limits. This is not always the case.

According to the commonly accepted definitions, ‘unlimited’ broadband is used to describe a policy which has no set usage cap but which is governed by either a traffic management policy or a fair use agreement. These two kinds of supplier policy restrict downloads or speeds when the service is at its busiest, ie peak hours. Some companies only restrict specified kinds of internet traffic, most commonly the peer-to-peer downloading of torrents. Many people are not affected by these policies. In fact, for the majority of average internet users they are actually beneficial. During the peak evening hours, when people have finished work and are on their computers, restricting the service means that all users are able to access the system, albeit slightly more slowly, instead of having a few users receiving quick speeds and the rest being forced to struggle or even to not be able to connect at all. Traffic management means that everyone has a ‘reasonable’ service, rather than the needs of just a few users being met. Many companies also use ‘intelligent’ filtering, so that people watching live streams of catch up TV are less likely to be slowed than those who are simply downloading music in the background.

‘Truly unlimited’ broadband, then, is broadband without these restrictions. There are no caps on data usage and no traffic management across the network. Even the heaviest of internet users, downloading multiple high definition movies whilst playing real time internet games, would not be restricted in their access to the internet. For people who work from home with remote connections, large families with multiple access points on the same network in the house, or heavy downloaders, ‘truly unlimited’ options are likely to be the best choice.

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Which Best Broadband Will Be For Me?

When choosing an internet connection, finding out which best broadband service will be the most suitable can seem complicated. A little information, however, can make the process much smoother and help make it easy to understand the different options available.

First and foremost, the speed and the price of the broadband package will be totally dependent on the way that your house is connected to the network. At present, there are three main options – plus a number of less common connection types for people in very rural or inaccessible locations. Most people’s homes are able to connect to ADSL broadband points, which are run through telephone lines. Available to an impressive 99% of homes in the United Kingdom, this is the way that the majority of people have experienced broadband for the past few years. Just like dial up internet before it, the modem or router is plugged into the telephone port and uses this to connect to the network. Unlike dial up, broadband connections do not monopolise the telephone and calls can be made simultaneously to browsing the web. Though BT own the majority of the telephone lines, it is not always necessary to take line rental from BT in order to have broadband. Many independent broadband operators rent the line from BT on behalf of the customer, enabling just one bill to be paid. Others choose to install their own equipment into the telephone exchanges, and take full possession of the wiring to ‘unbundle’ the phone line from BT.

Fibre and cable broadband options are newer, and generally known to be able to offer higher speed connections than ADSL broadband. Using fibre cables is much more efficient than the copper wires used in ADSL, allowing high speed connections to be made which are not dependant on the distance from the exchange. However, at the present time, only a comparatively small proportion of the country is covered in this way – fibre and cable access is not yet available to everyone. Virgin Media have an established cable network which reaches approximately 50% of the country, whilst BT has committed to a programme of expansion to reach around 8million households with their fibre service.

Alternatively, for those who do not want access fixed in their homes, outside of these main three options there remain additional choices. Mobile broadband is highly popular. This puts a small modem in a USB device, which can be plugged into a laptop for an internet connection ‘on the go.’ Relying on the same signal network as mobile phones, wherever there is sufficient signal strength the user is able to access the internet. These are also ideal for people who are moving house, or who have not yet committed to installing a landline.

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Broadband Availability When Moving House

When people move home, one of the important questions which often arises is the issue of transporting the broadband connection. Sustaining broadband availability over the transition can be incredibly important for people who work from home or who have family spread over long distances, but even for those people using the internet purely for pleasure, having this access can be very reassuring and help to make the move seem less stressful. Fortunately, when moving house there are a few simple steps to follow which should help remove the probability of problems arising. Unlike in previous years, where the priorities were simply the gas, water, electric and council tax, broadband has rapidly become one of the essential connections for the modern home.

First and foremost, it must be checked that the existing broadband package is also available in the new location. The easiest way to do this is to speak with the provider, who should be happy to perform a postcode check to make sure the service will not be altered in any way. 99% of the country is covered by the ADSL broadband network, making problems less of an issue, but with cable or fibre packages a lower proportion of the country has coverage and thus it is important to check first. In most cases, if the current supplier is not able to meet requirements in the new geographical area then they will be able to change the package to the closest possible approximation – that is, they might offer to downgrade the fibre package to the best quality ADSL broadband. If not, then there is always the option to cancel the policy though this may incur an additional charge.

Some people prefer to simply cancel their broadband outright and then sign up with a new supplier once the move is finished. This is not always very efficient. If there is a minimum term arrangement with the current supplier, it is likely that there will be fees to pay for early termination. There are not usually the same level of charges to transfer a package to a new address. Generally, moving home does not incur a fee, though there are of course exceptions. If the customer requires a visit from an engineer to perform the installation, then it is likely that this will not be free of charge. Likewise, if moving to a property without a phone line then there will be a charge for installing one and for its connection. The supplier will be able to let you know if this is likely to be the case. Finally, if the customer chooses to upgrade their service as part of the move, for example by choosing to upgrade to fibre coverage in the new home, then there might be costs incurred for activating this supply.

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How To Choose The Best Broadband Offer

In a competitive market place, everyone is looking to get the best broadband offer they possibly can. Price will always be a driving force, with companies jostling to be the number one internet service provider and to attract as many people as possible to their brand using introductory offers and package deals. Choosing the best broadband for the household should not only be driven by price, though, but should take into consideration a number of other factors.

Broadband can be accessed in a range of methods, with options changing depending on geographical area and local equipment and cable installations. There are three basic major broadband options in the United Kingdom: ADSL broadband, fibre, and cable. ADSL broadband supply uses the landline telephone wires to provide internet access, either through ‘piggybacking’ on BT’s existing telephone network or by using alternative provider’s systems through local loop unbundling. This unbundling is the process whereby another internet service provider takes charge of the phone line themselves in the exchange. Fibre and cable services are comparatively new, using different cabling options to offer internet access. Speed can be affected by the kinds of cabling in the area as well as other factors: whilst the average internet user will have no problems with ADSL, heavy users might prefer the higher speeds available on fibre connections. Thinking about the ultimate usage of the internet connection will help to make sure that customers are choosing the best possible deal for their needs.

ADSL is the most commonly available connection. BT claims that 99% of the country can have this sort of connection, with only the most remote areas excluded. Generally, ADSL broadband comes at a lower price than cable or fibre choices. Though potentially slower, for most people this is not an issue. ADSL is susceptible to slowing of speeds when people live a long way away from their nearest exchange point: whilst users close to the exchange can experience speeds of up to 24 MBps, those furthest away can sometimes only achieve 2 MBps. Average speed of an ADSL connection is thought to be around 10 MBps and often higher.

Cable broadband, on the other hand, offers speeds of around 30 MBps and in some areas even up to 100 MBps. As they do not require a telephone connection there is no line rental to pay, but cable connections are often more expensive because of their faster speeds so thorough comparison is needed.

 

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