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A Comparison of the Different Internet Broadband Technologies

By Edited Feb 13, 2014 0 0

The internet has changed the way the world works.  More and more of us now work from home at least one day a week, and some of us are full-time employed from home.  As well as the world changing, the internet has changed too.  Gone are the days of dial-up connectivity and 56kbps connections and here is super fast broadband with fibre optic cables.  But which is the best broadband service for you, and how do you plough through all the complexities of the different technologies themselves.

This article will help you to understand a bit more about ADSL, mobile broadband, and fibre optic broadband.  As well as upload speeds, download speeds, and usage allowances.

An Introduction to ADSL Broadband

The first technology in our broadband comparison is the most used home broadband technology – ADSL. 

ADSL is a connectivity type that uses the infrastructure that was set-up for our landline telephones.  The internet signals are passed over the copper cables of the BT telephone infrastructure and speeds vary markedly.

Speeds on ADSL

Standard ADSL tends to go up to about 8Mbps.  The challenge with ADSL is that the copper cables aren’t that brilliant at carrying internet signals and therefore over distance the signal becomes slower.  This means the speeds that you attain in rural areas tend to be slower than in urban areas because you are further from the telephone exchange.

ADSL has got better over the years though.  And we now have ADSL 2 and ADSL 2+.  These are much faster with speeds of up to 16Mbps and up to 24Mbps for the plus version.  ADSL has been an excellent servant to the home consumer, but in truth the stability, reliability, and speed available around the country, and even in different homes within the same community, do vary greatly.

The set-up within ones home can affect the speed, and you tend to get line faults from time to time with the cables affected by the elements.

Mobile Broadband

Next in our broadband comparison is mobile broadband.  3G has been the standard in the industry for a few years now and offered speeds up to around 1.4Mbps.  This is fast enough for browsing and some streaming of Youtube and other videos.  3G covers around 98% to 99% of the UK population and so is widely available, but the stability does very greatly.

That is perhaps the biggest problem with mobile broadband in that you can get signal one day and then not another.  Atmospheric conditions can cause issues as can exactly where you’re standing.  You may get reception out by the window, but not in the depths of your home.

The Fourth Generation of Mobile Broadband is Here

In a broadband comparison of 3G and 4G, 4G wins hands down.  It’s about 10 times as fast, more reliable, and will sweep around the country in the same way that 3G has.  It’s going to provide the opportunity for consumers to use mobile broadband in their homes with different spectrums available for inside and outside use.  Of course the data on mobile broadband right now is more expensive, but that will get cheaper as 4G rolls around.

The companies such as Vodafone, Everything Everywhere, O2, and Three have invested heavily in the 4G auction by Ofcom, and therefore they’re going to need to recoup their expenses.  So in the short term, prices will probably remain high.

The MiFi Device

The MiFi device has made it more and more possible for mobile broadband to be used as a home broadband solution.  MiFi devices offer the opportunity for consumers to get five devices onto the same mobile broadband connection.  This is great when you’re working outside the home in small groups or if you have multiple devices you want to connect.  Best of all you can get several laptops on mobile broadband in the home at the same time.  This is a real step forward and matches well with the evolution of mobile broadband into the 4G spectrum.

The Fibre Optic Broadband Comparison

Fibre optic broadband is the fastest internet out there.  Business broadband is available up to 1Gbps and home consumers can grab a Virgin package of around 95Mbps, or up to 100Mbps.

It really is super fast, and its slowest speeds are faster than the fastest speeds on ADSL 2+.  The reason it’s so fast is that the cables that carry the internet are designed for purpose.  They therefore do not lose any speed along the way due to the blend of plastic and glass in the construction.  They are also less susceptible to weather conditions, being a newer technology and better equipped to deal with the demands of a long life under the ground.

In our broadband comparison, fibre optic broadband is faster. 

A Look at Some of the Terminology

Download Speed

The download speeds are the main area for broadband comparison when it comes to advertising.  The download speed is the speed at which you can bring information downstream to your device.  This involves streaming movies, browsing the web, picking up e-mails, and looking at social media websites.  In fact, anything that you see or get from the internet will have to be downloaded. 

Upload Speeds

Upload speeds are the opposite.  They are how quickly you can send information from your computer.  This involves uploading of pictures, sending e-mails, and P2P activities.

Download Limits

Different packages offer different download limits and different costs of data.  Some unlimited packages that you see will actually be fairly limited, for instance Talk Talk, typically has 40Gb as their fair usage policy, which means that their ‘unlimited’ packages are far from unlimited.  Some packages state very clearly the limits on their packages and you need to understand whether you are a heavy user or not in order to get the right data allowance. 

On mobile broadband, data is more expensive.  As we’ve seen, this is likely to come down perhaps not in the near future, but in the future.  Ensure that you get enough allowance of data in order to cater for your internet lifestyle; failing to do so can be very, very frustrating, not to mention expensive.

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