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A Beginner's Guide to Getting Broadband

By Edited Jul 13, 2015 0 0

Broadband - Make the Right Choices

As someone new to broadband, it can be quite daunting seeing the plethora of options available for you online and trying to get to the perfect package for your home.  It’s important to consider carefully what you’re going to be doing online in order to understand which package will suit you.

A Comprehensive Broadband Comparison

It is a really good idea to decide to do a comprehensive broadband comparison of the different providers that you can choose from.  You may want to spend a little bit of time thinking about what technology you want your internet to be based on.  Let’s have a look at the main ones available:

Mobile Broadband

Mobile broadband is excellent for people that want to get online on the go or anywhere outside their home.  If you travel a lot, end up in hotels around the country and don’t want to pay the exorbitant hotel broadband fees, mobile broadband may be the solution.

Limitations of Mobile Broadband

Unfortunately, mobile broadband data is currently quite expensive.  Although the speeds are much faster than they were in the past - with the fourth generation of mobile broadband arriving and taking over from the third generation - stability and availability is still a problem.  We are at the infancy stages of super fast mobile broadband and it’ll probably take a year or two before it is time to get mobile broadband in your home.  If you live in a very central location and you can get fourth generation mobile broadband in your home, it could be a viable solution if you don’t use the internet too much and are willing to cope with a few teething issues.

You can get mobile broadband on a pay-as-you-go basis, although data will be more expensive if you do this rather than taking a contract.  With pay-as-you-go, you may well have to pay for the devices that you use as well.  These come in the form of mobile broadband dongles and WiFi devices.

ADSL Broadband

In the broadband comparison of services being used, ADSL is the most popular around.  This is mostly due to the availability of the service, with around 99% population being able to get on an ADSL connection. 

ADSL is the type of connection that comes in through your telephone line and you plug in a wireless router to your line.  Because data and voice components can be split, you can use your line simultaneously to make calls and to browse the internet without any interference to either.

The main factor in the speed of ADSL is how far you live from the telephone exchange.  The further you are, the more degradation of speed there will be over the distance, because the copper cables used for the telephone line are not fantastic for internet data transfer.

ADSL, perhaps, has the broadest range of packages, starting from just £5 a month and going up to £50 a month.  There is also a wide range of data limits available, and you’ll get the cheapest unlimited broadband most likely on ADSL. 

Look Out for Extras with ADSL

If you haven’t got a telephone line installed, then you’ll have to pay for one to get ADSL.  Additionally, if your telephone line is inactive, you’ll have to have it activated.  The costs for getting these done are around £130 and £30, respectively.  If you have a telephone line already, then you may benefit from moving your line rental over to the same provider that’s offering you ADSL.  This mini bundle can save you time and money through a unified service.  If you live in a rural location, ADSL may be particularly poor because you may be a long way from the local telephone exchange.

Fibre Optic Broadband Comparison

Fibre optic broadband is certainly the fastest internet available from a consumer’s perspective.  You can get speeds up to 100Mbps as compared to up to 24Mbps as the fastest speed on ADSL.  You can choose a variety of packages based on your budget, with speeds up to 38Mbps, 80Mbps or 100Mbps.  Each provider has their own blend of packages, but you can get either limited data consumption allowances or unlimited data consumption with all of them.

In locations where fibre optic broadband has penetrated heavily, you can have some issues with traffic management, as providers try to deal with the number of people on their lines during peak periods.  With the fastest speeds comes the more intensive activities and, therefore, consumers can find that there is instability at times.  In general though, fibre optic broadband is the most expensive and the best service for internet in the UK. 

Availability of Fibre Optic Broadband

Fibre optic broadband is available to around 50% or 60% of UK homes.  Fibre optic cables are being laid around the country everyday and, so, more and more consumers are going to gain access to this service.

Finding Out what Broadband is Available to You

One of the first things to do when you are doing a broadband comparison is to find out what is available to you.  You can go on to many sites, type in your post code and see what offers are available.

Some good websites include uSwitch, Broadband Choices, Broadband Experts, and Cable.co.uk.  Look for approved post code checkers that Ofcom have designated as good services; simply pop in your post code to find out what’s available to you.

The speeds that you are offered by these providers may well not be relevant, especially with ADSL.  So, it’s good to use another tool:

Speed Test Result Tools

Many people will test the speed of their internet connection from time to time using excellent online tools.  When they do this, they’re given the opportunity to share their results so that other people can benefit from the information.

This shared information is available when you pop in your postcode to services such as uSwitch, and you can easily see, on a map, different speeds available from different providers.  Because these are real speed test results, they are likely to be much closer to reality than the “up to” speeds advertised on broadband comparison sites.

This can be a great way to develop a shortlist of providers that offer good service in terms of speed in your area; and then, it’s a matter of ensuring that you fit a provider and a package to your budget and your user profile.

Make Better Use of Your Broadband

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