With many UK households upgrading to broadband or switching broadband providers, we've listed below the most frequently asked questions we've received from our readers, together with our answers.
What Is Broadband?
Broadband is the term used to describe a connection to the Internet via a phone line, cable, wireless or satellite that works at high speeds because of its greater bandwidth. The amount of data that can be transferred over a connection at any one time is known as its bandwidth and is measured in kilobytes or megabytes per second.
How Does Broadband Work?
Broadband connects you to the internet at a higher bandwidth speed meaning most websites appear at least 40 times faster than via a traditional ‘dial-up’ modem. For a standard dial up connection through a phone line the bandwidth can be up to 56 kilobits per second (56kbps), for a broadband connection it is normally at least 2Mb and can be up to 100Mb or higher with fibre optic broadband. With broadband you do not need to worry about dialling up or disconnecting after set periods of time as it is always on. Unlike dial-up internet, you are also able to make normal telephone calls whilst using broadband. As the connection is always open, it only uses a certain part of the signal that then leaves space for voice calls.
How Do I Get Broadband?
All broadband services require you to choose an internet service provider (known as an ISP) that offers a broadband service in your area and a new high speed modem or wireless router for your computer.
What Is ADSL Broadband (Copper Wire Broadband)?
ADSL stands for asymmetric digital subscriber line and is still the most popular type of broadband in the UK as it covers nearly 99% of the population. Using a high speed modem or router supplied by your ISP, ADSL broadband is sent through your existing copper wire BT telephone line. It uses newly developed technology which packs more information into the signal and thus enables you to make and receive telephone calls whilst surfing the web.
There are many internet service providers that offer ADSL broadband via your BT telephone line (and via their own lines) including TalkTalk, BT and Plusnet. You can read our review of their latest packages by clicking the respective link.
It's worth noting that when you receive your starter pack from your chosen ADSL supplier, it will include a set of microfilters. These help prevent the ADSL signal from causing interference with your normal telephone calls. Simply fit them to all your telephone sockets as per your ISP's instructions.
What Is Fibre Optic Broadband?
Fibre Optic Broadband is transforming people's experience of the Internet today, just like what the existing ADSL (copper wire) broadband did to dial up Internet. Fibre optic broadband runs underground and is much faster than ADSL broadband with speeds up to 100Mbps or higher.
Fibre optic broadband, which is available from suppliers like Virgin Media and BT, uses underground cables composed of inner glass which carry light signals. This enables information to be transferred at the speed of light, thus generating super-fast broadband speeds which don't slow the further a user lives from their telephone exchange.
Around half of all UK homes are located within the fibre optic broadband networks built by Virgin Media and Openreach (A BT Group company), with rollout continuing throughout 2015.
What Is Wireless Broadband (Wi-Fi)?
Wireless or Wi-Fi means that with your laptop, smartphone, tablet or other Wi-Fi enabled device, you can access broadband around the house or at any of the millions of Wi-Fi hotspots that exists across the UK in locations like high street shops, coffee houses and airports, to name but a few.
What Is Mobile Broadband?
Mobile broadband gives you access to the internet via a 3G or 4G mobile signal using your laptop (with a USB dongle), smartphone or tablet. This means you can access the Internet from pretty much wherever you are in the UK, as opposed to fixed line home broadband or wireless hotspots. There are many suppliers that offer mobile broadband including 3, T-Mobile, and Vodafone with speeds set to increase with the rollout of 4G services from operators like EE.