If you currently have the internet at home through an internet service provider, you're probably already receiving offers of deals regarding broadband service. Some of these deals can appear pretty pricey, so it can be quite easy to turn them down. However, before making a decision it's important that you know what exactly you're being offered.

What is Broadband?

Basically, fibre optic broadband uses optical fibre to bring the internet to your home even faster. If you can remember the first time you got the internet at home, you probably had a dial up line that was pretty slow. Then along came ADSL internet (which is what most homes currently have), which was faster than dial up. Broadband internet is simply the next step up in the process. Standard ADSL connections have a limit to how fast they can transport data (such as downloaded files). That limit is around 24 Mbps. Broadband, however, has a current limit of around 100 Mbps, and it's getting faster all the time. This is like the difference between travelling on a small, one lane road (with ADSL), or on a fast super highway (with broadband).

How Does it Work?

The reason that broadband is faster than ADSL is that broadband uses optical fibres instead of copper wires. Fibre optics have several advantages over copper wire. They have less interference, they can keep a stronger signal over a greater distance, and they also use a higher frequency. With higher frequencies you get bigger bandwidth and if you have bigger bandwidth you get faster internet connections, it's that simple.

What are the Benefits of Using Broadband?

There are a few advantages to using optical fibre broadband. The first is that you get much faster internet service. That means faster downloading and faster uploading too. To give you an idea, it takes about 0.03 seconds to send an email over standard ADSL internet services, using optical fibre broadband the same email can be sent in about 0.006 seconds. Now multiply that by the size of a film you want to download, or an album of pictures you want to post on the internet. Broadband is much faster. Secondly, a big advantage of broadband is that you can have more than one computer on the line without slowing the connection speeds. This is useful for families that have multiple computers and who all want to use the same internet connection.

What are the Negatives of Using Broadband?

There are two negatives right now about switching to broadband. The first is the cost. Broadband is more expensive that traditional ADSL connections. However, the cost is falling over time, and as more providers switch to broadband services and there are more customers the price will fall even further. The second down side is availability. Not everywhere in the UK can currently get broadband. The main service providers (BT and Virgin Media) are in the middle of setting up the infrastructure necessary to provide broadband to everyone, but their service is currently limited. This should change in the near future, however.