A guide to broadband types

Posted on: 07 April 2010 by Mark O'haire

You may be aware that there are three distinct types of broadband connection on offer today, but with all of the acronyms and jargon used by advertisers it can be difficult to work which one is right for you.

http://owl-group-staging.s3.amazonaws.com/upload_datas/33384/landscape_large.png?1359638523Having a basic understanding of the different types of broadband available and the pros and cons of each will help you make the right choice.

ADSL Broadband

ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line and is the term used to describe the broadband that is delivered to homes down telephone lines.

Most people will already have a telephone service provided by BT or alternative provider, meaning most homes in the UK can receive ADSL broadband without the need for an engineer to visit.

If you do not have an active telephone line you will need to get one before you can get ADSL broadband. Some broadband providers offer packages which include home telephone line rental and broadband for a single monthly charge.

If you choose not to opt for a home telephone and broadband bundle, you will need to pay the line rental to your home telephone provider separately.

Cable Broadband

Rather than using the overhead copper telephone wires, cable broadband uses underground networks of fibre optic cables.

Fibre optic cabling is better than the copper telephone wires because it can be used to give you much faster broadband speeds no matter where your home is located on the network.

The problem with cable broadband is that it is only available in a limited number of areas, with just over 50 per cent of UK households currently located within reach of a cable broadband service.

Mobile Broadband

The newest type of broadband available on the market is mobile broadband. Unlike ADSL and cable broadband, there is no need for a fixed line connecting your home to the national network. Instead mobile broadband uses the same technology as modern mobile phones to provide internet and voice communication.

Mobile broadband customers can connect to the internet in any location that has network coverage, although the availability of mobile broadband in your area will depend on which providers broadcast their signals nearby.

Broadband Speeds

Every broadband provider will advertise its service as being capable of offering a maximum download speed.

This speed have an impact on how fast a web page will load and how long a file will take to download onto your computer.

It is generally accepted that the download speeds advertised by broadband providers rarely match up to the real life download speeds that people can achieve in their homes, for a number of reasons.

ADSL customers will get varying speeds that are lower than the advertised maximum because the copper wire used to provide the connection will resist the electrical current and weaken if the line is particularly long.

Mobile broadband speeds will vary because network coverage can be strong in some areas and weak in others.

Interference from buildings and a high level of other users getting online at the same time can also cause slower mobile broadband connections.

Cable broadband is less prone to either of these problems because the fibre optic cables do not degrade the broadband signal.

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