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Broadband Explained

Broadband is the way we connect to the internet and replaced the original ‘dial-up’ connection.

We measure broadband speeds in bits per second, shortened bps, and bits are tiny units of data.

The more bits per second means a quicker experience using the internet, downloads complete more quickly, webpages load faster and streaming music or videos play more smoothly.

1 kilobit = 1000 bits
1 megabit = 1000 kilobits
1 gigabit = 1000 megabits

Superfast, Ultrafast and Gigabit Broadband

Fastershire uses the EU definition of superfast broadband as 30 megabits per second (Mpbs), instead of the slower 24mbps adopted by much of the UK  but the superfast range goes up to approximately 80Mbps.

Ultrafast broadband is widely defined as download speeds of 100 Mbps and above, whereas, Gigabit represents the next step up in broadband speeds, with download speed starting at 1000 Mbps.


How is broadband supplied?

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)

Connection: Standard broadband

ADSL offers faster connection speeds than dial-up services, and there are three different types of ADSL technology used in the UK, ADSL and ADSL2 and ADSL2+.

speeds up to: 24mbps
speeds up to: 1.2mbps

Advantages: A standard broadband connection can provide a reliable connection, suitable for most basic internet activities.

Disadvantages: Due to use of copper wire, if you live too far away from your telephone exchange, or if the cable has degraded, then speeds can drop dramatically.

Fibre based services

Fibre broadband is delivered by fibre optic cables that can deliver far more data than ADSL.

There are two main types of fibre broadband:

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC)

Connection: Superfast capable broadband

FTTC is more common of the two types of fibre broadband and uses fibre optic cables but only as far as your local street side cabinet, and then uses the existing copper phone lines to connect to your home.

speeds up to: 80mbps
speeds up to: 20 mbps

Advantage: Superfast broadband is ideal for most homes, allowing multiple connected devices, online shopping, home working and streaming.

Disadvantages: As FTTC still uses some copper cabling, the speed you can access will vary depending on your home’s distance from the cabinet. This is why some properties on the same road will receive different connection speeds and why some properties won’t be able to benefit at all, despite being conneced to a fibre enabled cabinet.

Full Fibre / Fibre to the Premise (FTTP)

Connection: Ultrafast & Gigabit capable broadband

Full Fibre also known as Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) or Fibre to the Homes (FTTH) is the next-generation of broadband. Full fibre is just that, a 100% fibre connection that means you can access a gigabit capable fibre connection straight to your home.

speeds up to: 1000mbps
speeds up to: 200-1000mbps

Advantages: This connection is ideal for large families, online gaming and typically offers symmetrical speeds where your upload speed is the same as your download speed.

Disadvantages: The coverage of FTTP across the UK is still relatively small and as a result there are fewer internet service providers (ISPs) currently offering these services. The Government has recently outlined its aspiration to see a ‘full fibre Britain’ making this form of connection the standard across the UK over the coming years.

Other types of broadband

Broadband connections can also be delivered using cable, like V l (HFC) network, mobile broadband using 3g, 4g and 5g networks, satellite internet which connects to orbiting satellites, and wireless broadband using long-range Wi-Fi transmissions.

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