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ADSL broadband guide
ADSL Broadband Guide

Whoosh! That's the sound of your broadband ADSL modem connecting to the internet. In the bad old days, a 56k modem was the holy grail of internet connection. That was pretty much as fast as it got. Then came broadband, which blew dial-up networking out of the water with connection speeds that were ten times as fast.

One of the ways to get broadband is ADSL, with the other being cable. Here's a guide to ADSL broadband.

What is ADSL?

ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. That's a fancy way of pointing out that you can use an ADSL broadband line for both normal telephony (your voice) and data. In comparison, with dial-up networking, you can use a line either for making a phone call or for carrying data, but not for both at the same time. In order for ADSL broadband to work, you need a standard telephone line, a modem, and a device to divide the data signal from the voice signal. This device is called a microfilter and your broadband ADSL provider will usually supply them. They are also available from most electronics shops. No splitters are required if you use cable broadband.

Getting a modem

The modem you use for broadband ADSL is usually an external modem and router with several ports, so that one or more people can connect to the internet at the same time. The speed is so fast that everyone in the family should be able to connect and download quickly. Some ADSL broadband modems are equipped with Wi-Fi, so that you can connect to the internet from anywhere in the house—or even from the bottom of the garden—if you have a laptop with the necessary networking features. ADSL broadband modems are getting more dainty, with some providers supplying a tiny USB modem that allows you to access broadband services wherever you happen to be.

Downloading data

The 'asymmetric' also means that data is downloaded to your computer faster than the data leaving your computer is uploaded to the internet. Most broadband ADSL providers will state that the download speed is faster than the upload speed. So, just how fast can ADSL broadband get? Speeds are increasing all the time. The entry level used to be about 1mbps, though the average now is nearly 3mbps. That's considerably faster than a dial-up networking connection!

Choosing a provider

When choosing your broadband ADSL provider, you shouldn't have to worry about coverage. As it runs on BT phone lines, most of the UK is covered. That's one advantage over cable broadband. The ADSL broadband service is generally fast and reliable, and there's another advantage; you can get a cheaper deal that combines your phone service with your broadband service, saving money on both. In fact, some broadband ADSL providers advertise free broadband, as the bundle means that you pay the same as you would for a phone service.

ADSL broadband makes it possible to download large music and video files and enjoy internet radio and television. Even for ordinary browsing, it's a step in the right direction for most broadband ADSL internet users.

Compare broadband providers

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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