What is broadband?
Broadband is a method of connecting to the Internet. In general, broadband refers to telecommunication in which a wide band of frequencies transmits information. Because a wide band of frequencies is available, information can be multiplexed and sent using many different frequencies or channels within the band concurrently, allowing more information to be transmitted in a given amount of time. A good analogy is the more lanes you have on a motorway, the more cars can travel on it at the same time.
The benefits of broadband
The benefits of broadband are mainly related to the speed of the connection. If you’ve ever used a dial-up internet connection, you will know that webpages can take 10 seconds or more to load and downloading e-mails can take a few minutes. If using a dial-up connection is equivalent to driving somewhere, using broadband is like flying there.
With a broadband internet connection all these things happen far more quickly! You are able to do many things at once with broadband. It is fast enough to allow several people to use the same internet connection simultaneously if you have more than one computer and they are networked together by cables or wireless.
The faster speed allows you to enjoy many of the more feature-rich areas of the Internet such as streaming media including live TV, and radio. Downloading of films and suchlike is also far quicker. Using broadband improves your internet experience no end.
What do I need?
To connect to the internet a modem or router is required.
A modem is a device that connects your computer to the internet usually using a phone line. A router allows several computers to connect at the same time. If you have several computers you may wish to consider a router or wireless-router depending on your requirements. Broadband usually co-exists with the current telephone service so you can still make and receive phone calls whilst using the internet.
Some providers will offer you a free modem/router as part of your package, others will charge you. Alternatively computer retailers such as PC World or online computer stores such as ebuyer.com usually sell them. Some are easier to set up than others.
If the provider you choose offers a modem or router, it is recommended to get one from them as they can assist you in configuring the device to work with their service. It’s worth checking to see what level of support a provider offers before signing up.
If you are accessing broadband using a phone line, you will also need to have a microfilter for each device plugged into a phone socket. The microfilter is a small device that plugs into the phone socket and filters the broadband signal from the telephone signal so that you can use both the phone and broadband simultaneously.
Which Broadband Service Provider is best for me?
Most Broadband Service Providers will advise you on how good their service is in your particular postcode, but you can’t beat getting a first-hand opinion from a neighbour.
If you already have a relationship with a Broadband Service Provider through your mobile phone contract for example, it’s worth checking with them to see if you get a discount because of that relationship.
Most providers will want you to sign up to a minimum term contract, normally 2 years. In return for that they often offer a reduced cost for the first month or two, and/or free installation.