What different types of broadband are there?
The three most common types of broadband in the UK are ADSL broadband, cable broadband and fibre broadband. Each type of broadband offers different speeds and varying reliability. It is generally considered that when it comes to broadband the faster it is, the better your experience. So let’s have a look at each type…
An acronym that stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, ADSL is the cheapest and most common type of broadband used in the UK. It connects your home to the internet using copper wires, the speed of which relies heavily on how far your home is from your telephone exchange. The further away from it your home is positioned, the slower your speeds will be. And vice versa. There are two types of ADSL broadband in the UK:
- ADSL1: Delivers maximum speeds of 8Mbps
- ADSL2+: Delivers maximum speeds of about 24Mbps.
A service provided by a cable network, which usually also connects phone and cable TV services. Cable networks use underground fibre optic and coaxial cabling to pump in superfast speeds of up to 152Mbps and no speed is lost depending on the geographical location of your home.
Fibre broadband uses plastic or glass cables – each being thinner than a human hair – as opposed to ageing copper wiring to transmit data via beams of light, which is why it’s so fast. Fibre broadband won’t slow down over distances and is supplied in two ways:
- FTTC, or fibre-to-the-cabinet: fibre optic cables run from the tower to the telephone exchange cabinet in your street and then the rest of the way via copper wiring. Most fibre connection in the UK are FTTC and are capable of delivering up to 76Mbps.
- FTTP, or fibre-to-the-premises: fibre optic cabling is run all the way from the tower to your door via fibre optic cabling. FTTP is less common than FTTC but much faster offering incredible speeds of up to 1000Mbps, or 1Gbps.
What can you do with broadband?
Having a fast, reliable broadband connection to your home is becoming more and more essential to modern living. The faster your connection is the more you will enjoy the online things you love the most. For more information on all things broadband, please visit our broadband glossary.
Even a basic broadband connection should allow you to check your email application for new mails and search the web. If you want to surf the internet faster or attach big files to your emails you should probably consider a better broadband package.
If you are sharing a work document or conducting a meeting online, then you will want a fast broadband connection to avoid any irritating lagging or buffering. The faster your broadband connection the quicker you can upload files. The steadier your broadband, the smoother your video calls will be.
With video, DVD and games rental largely a thing of the past, most of us stream or download our entertainment direct from the internet. The faster your broadband connection, the quicker you can download full films or games. The more reliable your broadband connection, the smoother the stream of your favourite film or boxset will be.
A consistent broadband connection means a better WiFi connection in your home for any smart devices to utilise. Chat to your smart speaker, connect your smart lights, program your smart cameras and watch it all work seamlessly with a fast, smooth broadband connection. Also, the faster your connection, the more bandwidth you have to spread between your devices.
What is mobile broadband?
Your home broadband connection is delivered by an internet provider using copper wires, coaxial cables or a complex set of fibre optic cables underneath the ground, piped to your front door usually via the cabinet in your street.
Mobile broadband, on the other hand, is totally cable-free. Using a mobile broadband device to connect your laptop or tablet to a mobile network via 4G or 3G services, just like your smartphone does.
How does mobile broadband work?
There’re loads of mobile broadband devices on the market that enable you to access the internet without cables. They mostly sit under these four categories…
These can be inserted into your device – check you have a slot first – and allow you access to data on the move. Just pop it in and away you go.
These come in various formats and are also referred to as ‘pocket WiFi’ or a ‘portable hotspot’ or even ‘mi-fi’, but they all work in the same way. It’s basically a small digital camera-sized gadget that behaves like a portable mini router. It picks up a 4G signal and broadcasts a WiFi signal so you can link other devices. The better the 4G signal it picks up, the better quality WiFi it emits.
You can create a WiFi bubble in your car by plugging in a mobile broadband modem device. It will broadcast your phone’s mobile data signal as WiFi so your passengers can connect their devices to the internet.