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Broadband guide
Broadband Guide

Connecting to the internet used to be a slow, painful process, but not any more. Now we can access web pages in what seems to be the speed of light. It isn't, but compared to using dial-up networking for internet access, broadband is speedy, and the speeds get faster and faster all the time. But what exactly is broadband and what kinds of packages are available? Here's a guide to how broadband works, and an introduction to hi speed broadband and cheap broadband deals.

How broadband works

We're all familiar with connecting to the internet via a telephone line. That's how dial-up networking works. The trouble with dial-up networking is that it ties up the phone line. If you are connecting to the internet, then you can't make or receive phone calls. Broadband internet access (be it hi speed broadband or cheap broadband) uses the phone line differently, so that you can connect to the internet and use your phone at the same time. Effectively, broadband splits the phone line, allowing the transmission of both your voice and your computer data on a single line.

ADSL and cable broadband

Although you can get the same effect by using other technologies, such as satellite, most of these are quite costly and beyond the reach of the home user. Instead, most home users connect to the internet using either an Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) or cable. In both cases, you need a modem in order to complete the connection. When using ADSL, you also need a splitter or microfilter, which splits the signal from the exchange into voice and data when it reaches your phone line. With cable, you are plugged directly into the network, so no microfilters are required.

Getting a modem

Many dial up networking users now have built in modems, but in order to use broadband, whether hi speed broadband or cheap broadband, you will need an external modem. This may be a modem with a single port, for people who need one connection to the internet, or a router with several ports, which is useful when whole families connect to the internet on different computers. Your broadband or cable modem may also be equipped for WiFi, enabling you to have a hi speedbroadband connection from anywhere in the house. WiFi broadband and satellite broadband are also available.

Broadband speed

Whether you have cheap broadband or a standard broadband package, the main concern is speed. If you're wondering just how fast broadband can get, the answer is that there is seemingly no limit. A few years ago, entry level broadband was at 1MB (per second). These days, the average is around the 3MB mark, with many packages offering much more. BT announced last year that it is looking towards speeds of 100Mbps, though it didn't say when that might become a reality. In Europe, most households have much higher speeds, with Finland averaging 21.7Mbps.

Advantages of broadband

The major advantage of having hi speedbroadband is that you can download music and video at lightning fast speeds. You can also play video online and enjoy video messaging without the jerky image that is common on slower internet connections.

The price of cheap broadband is dropping all the time. Every few months you get an upgrade in speed for the same price you were paying before. Compare prices for broadband now with those three years ago and you will see a big difference – in your favour. However, if you don't want to wait, there is a way to cut down the cost of broadband, and that's to use cheap broadband bundles.

Broadband bundles

Many hi speed broadband service providers offer bundles with the phone service and television. In some cases, you get cheap broadband if you take a mobile phone contract package, with the contract lasting from 12 to 18 months. Some providers bundle hi speed broadband with a basic television subscription package, while others bundle all your services together. That means that you can get your landline, mobile phone service, television package, and internet service from the same company, and save on all of them. Not only do you get cheap broadband, but you also get cheaper phone calls. With many of those deals, broadband service is effectively free if you take the other services as well.

Now that we have broadband, it's hard to imagine going back to a painfully slow internet connection. Luckily, we don't have to. There are several providers offering cable broadband and ADSL broadband, and hi speed broadband is getting cheaper every day. It won't be long until even the speed we get today becomes a distant memory and we all benefit from fast, cheap broadband.

Getting connected: what you'll need for hi speed broadband or cheap broadband

  • A cable or ADSL modem (possibly with WiFi)

  • A router if several people want to use the internet connection

  • An Ethernet cable for each user or networking cards for WiFI

  • A bundle with a combination of television, telephone, broadband, and mobile to save money

Compare broadband providers

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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