What is Broadband?

Broadband is defined as a high bandwidth connection to the Internet. Broadband is much easier and faster to use than the traditional telephone and modem as information can be sent, files uploaded and downloaded much quicker.

Providers can deliver broadband over your phone line, by cable or via satellite. Broadband involves large volumes of information being carried at high speeds to your PC. This allows users to experience business hubs (e.g. live online auctions), websites, text, graphics, music and videos in real time. Users in the home and office can take advantage of the many features broadband has to offer, including:

  • The connection to the Internet is always on, allowing for constant Internet access and no need to dial up.
  • The phone line is unaffected; this means that you can make telephone calls whilst the Internet is on.
  • Normally, you pay a standard monthly fee for unlimited internet access, and you are not charged for the time you spend on the Internet. There are certain broadband products now that also offer pay as you go access.
  • You can do business in real time, online
  • Websites, music and videos can be downloaded at a fast rate.
  • You can take advantage of instant messaging and online high speed interactive games.
  • You can receive uninterrupted real time services, such as Internet radio, streaming video and voice-over-ip, phone calls.

Broadband can make using the Internet in the home much easier, faster and more efficient. Most businesses also take advantage of broadband to help in running the company. Working from home is now much more feasible thanks to the high speeds that broadband has to offer.

What broadband can also do is to open up new market opportunities, especially for traditional non-digital businesses. By having your products and services set out in e-commerce hubs, your shop is always open.

Superfast, Ultrafast and Hyperfast Broadband

The UK government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office set the minimum standard for broadband speed at 2 megabits per second (2Mbps). In parts of HD8 postcode, broadband speeds struggle to reach 0.5Mbps.

Superfast broadband

BDUK office has adjusted its existing definition of “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) by bringing it more into line with Europe’s Digital Agenda target of 30Mbps by 2020 (minimum download speed / Megabits per second).

Ultrafast broadband

Ultrafast broadband represents the next step up in broadband technology from up to 80Mb fibre to the cabinet services, as such speeds are faster than this, usually 100Mb or more.

There are two ways of achieving ultrafast speeds, you can install fibre optics all the way to the home, or you can upgrade the technology used in existing part-fibre FTTC services to get faster speeds out of the same fibre optic cabling.

The most commonly available ultrafast service is Virgin Media’s part-fibre cable services which were upgraded to support a maximum speed of 152Mb in early 2014. Due to Virgin Media’s use of steel coaxial cable from their street cabinets to your home, most of their users can achieve the full advertised speed without significant slowdowns due to distance.

Meanwhile BT Wholesale has announced plans to upgrade their telephone exchanges so FTTC’s maximum speed doubles from up to 80Mb to up to 160Mb, but this has yet to roll out.

Hyperfast or Gigabit Broadband

Hyperfast broadband might be used to describe speeds of 500Mb or higher, while gigabit broadband refers to services capable of achieving connections of 1Gb (1000Mb or 1 gigabit) or higher. While no national providers currently offer services of these speeds, some smaller local providers are already offering extremely fast full fibre optic broadband with the capacity to reach speeds of up to 1Gb.

Hyperfast broadband is most often installed in narrow urban areas with large numbers of office buildings and apartment blocks, but it may also be offered in rural areas where BT and Virgin Media never provided superfast options and so a local company or community initiative stepped in to fill the void with a full fibre solution.