Broadband is high speed Internet access that is both permanently connected and allows Internet and telephone calls to take place simultaneously on the same land line. Broadband technology allows users to access the Internet at high speeds, mainly over their telephone lines or cable but also using wireless mobile technologies and even satellites. Broadband replaces previous dial up modem technology which is much slower in comparison. The main benefits are you can access information very quickly, on multiple PCs if required, often instantly, plus have use of your telephone line at the same time as surfing the internet.
Yes and it is continuing to gain popularity. In fact many analysts agree, the proportion of UK households with broadband is expected to double in the next three years, with the fastest growth in remote areas which currently have the smallest proportion of broadband users. Other research has shown that Europeans now spend more time online than reading traditional newspapers and magazines. The increased availability of broadband was identified as an underlying reason for increasing internet usage. An average broadband connection is currently about 25 times faster than a dial up service which explains the dramatic impact of broadband. A 2006 European wide survey found the number of broadband lines had quadrupled since 2003, with one in four homes now connected to broadband. Holland, for example, had a household rate of 62 per cent broadband users, not far behind the world broadband leader: South Korea. Recent data also reveals high-speed broadband take up is fuelling increases in online shopping. Consumers upgrading to a faster internet connection find internet shopping much easier as a result of broadband and tend to be more confident about using the internet for shopping. High-speed broadband connections are estimated to reach about 60 per cent of UK households by 2007 so it looks like more online shoppers are on the way.
Yes. If you have a good provider you will be amazed how fast and efficient broadband is. In fact, most people once they have installed broadband wonder how they ever managed to exist without it.
Yes. As the market shrinks broadband firms are likely to offer more free deals and incentives for people to use their services. This could mean faster connections and cheaper connections. The market may become more deregulated increasing the incentive for businesses to compete. In Europe the widespread introduction of broadband at affordable prices is one of the chief objectives of an EU action plan. All the evidence suggests that everything will be done to improve broadband access.
Yes. Internet connectivity is having an enormous impact on business and individuals. The move from narrowband to broadband internet access encourages all kinds of new services to thrive in the digital age. It has literally unleashed the internet from a niche usage to a widespread and fundamental position in our society. Governments and businesses are extremely keen to encourage broadband because of the huge benefits for consumers, firms and organizations. The EU is keen to prevent a digital divide taking place and so access is likely to become standard. Standardisation of cable systems, deregulation and greater public investment are some of the ways governments may intervene to increase access. The main issue is increasing access to remote areas where some private operators often do not offer broadband because it is not profitable to do so and even when they do so at present it is often much slower than urban areas.
A big improvement in broadband access which is expected to have a dramatic impact on the way we use the internet is the expected development of free WiFi access, initially in urban areas. Providing wireless broadband access on the go over a network of wireless radio transmitters is already becoming a reality in major cities worldwide. WiFi means that laptops and other electronic WiFi devices, including mobile phones, can have high speed broadband access on the move, in cafes, bars and other public spaces. This means people can work and play and interact, using gaming devices, sharing spreadsheets and intranet, email, the web and other applications without having to connect their computer or handheld devices via cable. The city of Manchester in the UK is planning to launch Europe's largest wireless network, giving access to the internet at any point over an area of up to 400 square miles around the city. The service would require a web of small transmitters on lampposts and tall buildings to spread the network across the region. It is hoped it will reach 90 per cent of the population of Greater Manchester. This free wireless broadband access is expected to be similar to a programme launched in the US in San Francisco.
The term broadband is often used to describe a wide set of technologies, offering data rates that are very different. Usually a distinction is made between higher bandwidth (speeds greater than 384kbits/s), current generation broadband (2Mbit/s and over) and next generation broadband (10 Mbit/s and over). An average broadband connection is currently said to be 25 times faster than a dial-up connection although there are very different speeds and services on offer.
A broadband modem is hardware which allows you to get connected to the Internet. This is essential in order to receive broadband. Your provider will often send you a free USB modem. A dial up modem will not work for broadband.
An ISP is an Internet Service Provider (ISP). An ISP sells access to the internet. Though services will vary from ISP to ISP most will provide the equipment needed to set up an account - a broadband modem, micro filters and software. Your provider should also offer support services to keep your connection up and running.
Yes. There are dozens of ISPs - Internet Service Providers in the UK ranging from regional broadband ISPs to nationwide companies such as BT and Demon. Cable television companies are among the non specialist providers. Even supermarkets offer broadband ISP services. It's a growing market. Choices range from the standard ADSL - always on access over you phone line, available wherever BT lines are available - to cable and satellite link ups. You will find private and business services are available.
Yes. You choose an ISP supplier and arrange a contract. Some ISPs are free and others you must pay and the range of services and quality of connection varies too. You will need a broadband modem which should be provided. A wireless router is also a good option which means you can move from room to room with your PC. You also need a filter to plug in to your phone socket, to make sure that the telephone analogue signals are kept apart from the broadband digital signals, therefore making sure you can use the two devices at the same time. This may be provided. You will get a CD to install the software. Follow the instructions and off you go.
That's a big question. You need to shop around and compare what's on offer. You may find especially good deals online. It depends how much you use the internet and the volume of data that you need to send by email. You need to check the level of bandwidth being provided measured in the amount of bits per second:
The standard rate of send is 256 Kbps. A standard rate of receive is 512 Kbps, which is ten times faster than dial up. Some free or cheap ISPs offer rates as low as three times faster than dial up. Some services offer faster than average services and for these you will usually have to pay a monthly fee. Read Review Centre reviews for ideas and follow our links to comparison sites and special offers. You will also need to consider types of technical support provided and any charges for help lines etc. Other things to look out for include connection charges, caps on the amount of data you can send or receive, limits to how many people can use the service, contract lengths/limits, the amount of free stuff you get i.e. your modem etc. Many ISP providers also offer lots of extras to tempt to you; including email, web hosting and web development help, virus software, firewalls, spam and pop protection, etc.
Yes. You may not want to if you are happy with your ISP provider though. Remember quality of customer care, technological support and speeds vary. However, many companies offer special deals to get you on board and take you away from competitors. So it is definitely worth keeping a look out for the opportunity of taking advantage of any special offers on the market, which could offer good savings and improved services. Always check your contract first though as you will have to fulfil the minimum contract criteria with your current ISP first.