Posts Tagged ‘broadband’

Get Connected – Guide to Home Broadband

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

These days I think you would be hard pushed to find a home with a computer or mobile device and no Internet access.Router

We find when talking to people about to buy a new computer, when we ask what they want to use it for ‘Surfing the Web’ is normally one of the first things they say.

But does all that technical jargon about speeds and uploads confuse you? Do you know what you’re signing up for (or what you’ve already got!) and how do you know you are getting what you signed up for? Here’s a few hints and tips which might help.

Different types of connection

There are many different forms of connection but the most common ones for households are:

FibreFibre – supplied by companies like Virgin, Fibre Optic broadband offers one of the fastest service for domestic customers. It is independent of your telephone line and requires a dedicated fibre optic cable to be run to your home. This is often bundled with Cable television services. Whether you can get this service depends on whether any Cable companies have installed a cable network in your street.

Fibre to the Cabinet– services such as BT’s Infinity service operate over Fibre Optic cables to your street corner cabinet but then use your copper telephone wire for the last part of the journey. Although this requires an engineer visit to set up, there should be no need for any cabling work to your home. Speeds will vary depending on how far away you are from your street corner BT box as the signal degrades over the copper line the further it has to travel.

ADSL – This connection runs over copper wires from the Exchange, to the street box and then on to your home. This connection does not require an engineer visit to install, your provider will send you a router, which is generally pre-configured, and the service is ‘switched on’ remotely by your service provider. The speeds you get will depend on your distance from the Exchange.

Mobile – You can get a connection to the Internet by using either a compatible mobile phone or by purchasing a USB dongle Mobiles with connection to broadbandwhich connects using mobile signals. The price for this service is either included in your mobile phone contract by way of a Data tariff or with a USB dongle on a pay as you go scheme based up a certain amount of data usage. These services are great if you do not want, or cannot get, a fixed line service to your home or if you travel a lot but they do require a good mobile phone signal to work and speeds will not be as great as a fixed line service. Also ensure that your tariff will allow for the amount of data you will be using so as not to get large, unexpected bills!


The speeds you get will vary depending on your type of connection and your location. You have 2 speeds to consider – Upload speedwill generally be slower. That is the speed you will get when uploading data to the Internet such as sending emails or uploading photographs to social media sites or using a remote backup or file storage service like DropBox.

DownloadingDownload speed is the faster speed and this applies to browsing the Internet, receiving emails and downloading files, movies or music.

Speed is generally calculated in Mb/s or Megabits per second. Basically, the higher your Mb/s the faster your connection.

This should not be confused with MB – MegaBytes. This relates to file sizes, but can also be important as some providers will have a limit to the amount of data that can be downloaded.

Checking your connection

The best way to check your connection is to use an online speed test tool. This can normally be found on your provider’s website or by doing an Internet search for Speed Test. These tests should be run on a computer that is connected to your router by a cable rather than wirelessly, as this can affect the reports. You should also check that no-one else in the household is connected to the Internet and downloading or uploading anything as this will also affect the results. The tests will run through and then tell you what your upload and download speeds are. You should run these a few times to get an average result. If the speeds reported are significantly different to the speeds your provider says you should be getting then do speak to them about it. It could be that there is a fault on your line or with the connection, which they can repair to improve things.