Best UK Broadband helps you find the best home broadband package by bringing you a summary of the broadband packages offered by major providers.
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Choosing a Home Broadband Service
There are lots of factors to consider when choosing a new broadband deal and people's priorities will differ widely. The occasional surfer may just want the cheapest broadband available; on the other hand, die hard internet fans wouldn't dream of having anything less than the fastest broadband possible. Below we list some of the major broadband providers in the UK.
Major UK Home Broadband Providers
Home Broadband FAQ
What is home broadband and why should I get it?
Broadband is a generic name for a high speed internet service that allows you to browse web pages much more quickly and should allow data intensive internet applications such as internet video, online gaming and Voice Over IP (VOIP) to be displayed smoothly on your computer. Home broadband services use a physical connection to your home, either a phone or cable TV line.
Typically people mean broadband to be a fast internet service, with a connection speed at least 10 times that of 56K dial up, i.e. a connection speed of 0.5Mb/s (500Kbps) or more.
Signing up for a good broadband service unlocks the potential of the internet and a world of entertainment and educational opportunities. Once you have home broadband, the whole family can easily share the internet connection via a wireless router and enjoy all that the internet has to offer.
What are the advantages of broadband over dial-up?
Broadband is an always on service. If you leave your modem or router on, then the service will always be available and you won't have to "dial-up" each time you want to use the internet.
Broadband doesn't prevent you making phone calls whereas dial-up ties up your phone line.
Broadband allows the use of more sophisticated services such as online TV and online gaming. Downloading software from the internet no longer takes hours.
What different types of home broadband are there?
ADSL broadband - Is broadband provided via your existing phone line. The phone line gets converted to ADSL and split into two channels, one to carry phone calls and the other a data channel for the broadband service.
Cable broadband - Broadband via a dedicated cable from a cable provider such as Virgin Media. This means that you need to live in a cable area to receive broadband in this way.
Fibre Broadband (FTTC, Fibre To The Cabinet broadband) - This uses a fibre optic cable between the telephone exchange and your local roadside cabinet, the last line from the cabinet to your house is a copper cable which uses VDSL (Very-high-bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line) technology to carry the fast connection to your house.
Mobile broadband - Broadband provided via 4G and 3G mobile networks. You can buy mobile Wi-Fi devices and USB dongles to receive mobile broadband on your existing laptop, and some mobile broadband laptops are available that have an inbuilt mobile broadband modem. Mobile broadband network speeds are improving rapidly and are set to improve further. See our partner site at Best Mobile Broadband for a detailed mobile broadband FAQ.
Satellite broadband - A satellite dish is used to receive a broadband service via satellite. Satellite broadband is useful for obtaining broadband in remote areas, but is much more expensive than other types of broadband. It also has a relatively high latency (web page response time). You can opt for a one-way satellite service which allows you to receive information (i.e. browse web pages), or a two-way service that allows you to receive and transmit (i.e. browse web pages and submit data back).
How fast are the various types of broadband?
Can you explain the units of broadband speed measurement to me?
Yes. Network data transfer rates are given in bits per second:
bit/s or bps
a bit being the simplest unit of computer data, i.e. a binary 1 or 0. Broadband connections are typically capable of transferring one million bit/s or more, so the unit used is:
One million bits per second = 1,000,000 bit/s = 1 megabit per second = 1 Mbit/s = 1 Mbps = 1 Mb
So, a broadband speed of 8 Mb means 8 megabits per second or 8 million bits per second. People may also refer to this as an "8 meg" connection.
How fast a broadband speed do I really need?
If you just want to view static web pages and read your e-mail, then you won't need the fastest broadband connection available and would be adequately served by a basic 2Mbps service. As soon as you want to view online video you would be best served by an 8Mbps or faster broadband service.
Most streaming web content is designed to work at 1Mbps.
Streaming full quality TV requires 4Mbps.
Streaming high definition TV requires 10-20Mbps.
A 2Mbps broadband connection will enable you to play Xbox Live, 4Mbps is plenty. One of the benefits you will notice with a faster broadband connection is being able to download game demos more quickly. Upload speed is very important to online gaming, a minimum of 280Kbps is required to avoid gaming problems, and fortunately most UK broadband providers have 480Kbps upload speeds.
How can I test the broadband speed of my current broadband connection?
How is broadband installed and is this difficult?
ADSL broadband - The ISP has to set your line up for broadband. You need to fit microfilters to your phone points. You will need an ADSL modem or an ADSL router.
Cable broadband - You will need a cable modem. Your cable company will provide the service.
Satellite broadband - A last resort if you can't receive broadband via other methods. You can get a one-way connection where you can only receive data, i.e. view web pages, or two-way service where you can both receive data and send data, e.g. you can send an e-mail. Two-way services are more expensive.
What do I need to receive ADSL broadband?
Your phone line needs to be up to scratch.
How do I know if I can get ADSL broadband at home?
Use the ADSL Broadband Availability Checker from BT, which allows you to enter your phone number, address or postcode to see if you can receive broadband, i.e. to see if your local exchange is ADSL enabled.
What does LLU stand for?
It stands for Local Loop Unbundling and refers to other telecoms companies and ISPs being allowed to put their own equipment into BT Exchanges. This enables them to offer different products such as ADSL2 and be more competitive on price.
Who Makes the Best Home Broadband Routers?
See our who makes the best home broadband routers page.
What is the cheapest broadband service currently available?
We hope to bring you details of the cheapest broadband deals shortly.
What can stop me receiving the fastest ADSL broadband service available?
You may be too far away from the exchange which adds too much noise to the line. To receive broadband at all you normally need to be within 3.5km of the local exchange.
The telephone line quality may be poor causing noise on the line.
What other services on my phone line can prevent me receiving ADSL broadband?
- Red Care Alarm System
Can I get free broadband?
We hope to bring you details of free broadband deals shortly.
What is ADSL broadband?
Broadband via your existing copper wire home phone line. ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, and refers to the technology that enables both a phone service and a data service (i.e. broadband) on the same physical phone line. ADSL still allows you to make a phone call whilst you are online. It is described as Asymmetric because the download speed is much faster than the upload speed and therefore the service is not equal in each direction (hence the asymmetry). ADSL is a distance limited service meaning that the service slows down with increasing length of the phone line from the local exchange. As the line gets longer, the broadband signal gets weaker and the relative proportion of noise on the line increases, impeding data transfer and slowing down the broadband service.
How much faster is ADSL broadband than 56k dial-up?
Usually at least 10 times faster.
What costs are involved with ADSL broadband?
You still have to rent a phone line from BT, and then you will normally have a monthly subscription to pay to your broadband ISP of choice.
What is ADSL 1.1?
An ADSL broadband standard that can provide download speeds of up to 8mb. The standard is also known as Broadband Max.
What is ADSL 2?
An ADSL broadband standard that can potentially provide download speeds of up to 12Mbps.
What is ADSL 2+?
An ADSL broadband standard that can potentially provide download speeds of up to 24Mbps.
Can I get ADSL broadband in my area?
Can I get cable broadband in my area?
What are the advantages of Virgin Media Broadband when it is delivered using fibre optic cable?
Fibre optic cable is specifically designed for carrying a high speed internet service, as well as digital TV and a phone service. Unlike ADSL broadband the quality of the broadband service is not based on how far away you are from the telephone exchange, it is not affected by such distance issues, nor by the weather for that matter. Fibre optic broadband is a very reliable way to receive broadband.
Where can I make complaints about my broadband service?
How can I tell how fast my broadband is? How can I perform a broadband speed test?
What is a monthly data allowance and how is it measured?
The monthly data allowance refers to how much data you download to your computer each month. Every time you view a web page, or open an e-mail, you are downloading data, as well as of course when you are actually choosing to download a file to your PC such as some new software or an MP3 music file.
Data allowance is measured in gigabytes, abbreviated as GB. (For those wanting a technical explanation, a gigabyte is a billion bytes, a byte is 8 bits, and a bit is the most basic unit of computer data storage, i.e. a binary digit 1 or 0.)
How big a monthly data allowance do I need?
2GB is currently the most common monthly data allowance and this will be adequate for those just using their computer for web browsing and checking e-mail. Those that like to download music or movies will probably need more. Often you can "pay as you go" for the extra data you use.
Where can I get help with broadband connection problems?
When the ADSL light lights up on my router, what does this mean?
It means the modem within the router is successfully communicating with your ISP.
It means the router is successfully picking up the broadband signal.
How can I share a broadband connection between computers?
You just need a router to do this. Either use a standard router and plug in your various computers with ethernet cables, or get a wireless router. Most modern laptops have inbuilt wireless and can therefore can connect to a wireless router, but you may have to buy a wireless card or wireless adapter for your desktop computer.
How do I set up a home network?
What charges are involved in obtaining broadband? Will I still have to pay BT line rental?
ADSL Broadband - You still need a BT phone line so you will still have to pay the monthly BT line rental. You will need to pay an activation fee to your broadband ISP to get the phone line activated for broadband. You will have to pay for a broadband modem or router to connect your computer to the broadband service. You then need to pay a monthly service charge to your broadband ISP.
Other Interesting Broadband Sites
Epitiro - The broadband communications authority.
Sky 3D - Find out about the new 3D TV service from Sky.
Gigabit Router - Buy a Gigabit router and benefit from much faster local network speeds.
Best wireless router - A guide to routers including guides, router reviews, tools and help.
Where can I find out more about mobile broadband and compare mobile broadband providers?
Try our partner site, Best Mobile Broadband .co.uk.