Many people assume that all broadband is built equal. In reality, the services provided from the different service providers are very different. The starting point when you make a broadband purchase, just like with any other purchase, is to understand what you want and what you need. This will, to a large extent, be dictated by your Internet behavior profile; whether you are a low, medium, or high consumption broadband user.
How much Internet you use in your daily activities will dictate whether you are classified as a low, medium, or high Internet user. Broadband providers actually provide packages that follow these classifications.
A Low Internet User
Low Internet users may only consume data through browsing and email. They will rarely, if ever, stream anything and will consume very low levels of data. The smaller packages of a few gigabytes a month will suffice for them and a mobile broadband package may be enough
Medium users will do some browsing, some email, and some streaming. They will not be online streaming movies, or listening to online radio for hours and hours a day. But perhaps a few times a week, they will journey through Youtube or listen to some online radio. 20 or 30 gigabytes of data usage should be plenty to cater for this type of user.
High Consumption Internet User
High consumption users will spend time watching high definition movies, gaming, and journeying around Youtube. Their activities will require a great deal of bandwidth. Streaming a 2-hour high definition movie can consume up to 5 gigabytes of one’s data allowance. Playing 10 hours of certain games can consume 10 or 15 gigabytes of data.
In some situations, users require their broadband to have special characteristics. For example, some games that connect through the Internet and require a static IP address. This will enable gaming servers to run and servers to be set up through FTP. Some companies offer static IPs as standard, with some companies you need to upgrade, and some companies, such as TalkTalk, will not offer them at all.
Another example of a specialist need is if you do a lot of VoIP talk. If you are on Skype communicating face-to-face, then you may end up getting your traffic “managed” (read as restricted) by providers such as Virgin Media. Unlimited Internet is not always truly unlimited and certain providers will slow down your connection if they perceive you are being excessive in your usage. Other companies such as Plusnet Broadband will actually prioritise your VoIP conversations providing you with a seamless experience. By understanding the traffic management and shaping behaviors of different providers, you’ll have a better chance of meeting your individual needs.
Summary and Conclusion
You won’t be able to get the best service from every provider in your particular location. If you’re getting broadband in London, you’ll probably have access to more providers than if you live rurally, but different providers perform better in different geographical areas. It is really important to think about your usage before you engage with providers. Getting some advice from an in-store expert can be a good idea to ensure you don’t end up fixed into a contract that does not meet your needs.