Broadband Guide

Broadband is the term applied for high speed internet connections. A typical dial-up internet connection has a top speed of 56 Kilobits per second (Kbs). In comparison, broadband speeds are measured in Megabits per second (Mbps), where 1Mbs is 20 x the speed of a dial-up connection.

For example, a typical photo which fills half the screen might be about 100k in size, and over the best "dial-up" connection would take 20 seconds to load.

At broadband speeds, this would take just 1 second or less to load.

This is the reason why people are so excited about the world of broadband in the UK.

What is more, is that the connection is 'always on'. Once logged in, you can stay logged in for as long as you like and you pay a fixed monthly charge - something difficult to achieve when you are making a phone call by dial-up.

Broadband makes it possible to watch TV on the internet, home made videos, listen to radio stations from around the world, download entire software applications, download the latest hits - or classics - without leaving your chair, watch editions of TV programmes or radio programmes from the BBC. It's simply great!

Technical Choices


ADSL (sometimes simply known as 'DSL') stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line and provides broadband via a telephone line. This telephone line can still be used - at the same time as you are surfing - for ordinary calls!

The majority of BT exchanges now support ADSL connections and the only limiting factor beyond that is how far you are from the exchange. Most people who live within 4km of an exchange can get a DSL service. The closer to the exchange you live, the faster the connection possible. People in town centres can achieve connection speeds of 8mbps (8 million bits per second) which is fast enough to download a typical photo in a fraction of a second, or a typical music track in less than 5 seconds.


This option is only available to a minority of UK residents (about 20%). You will probably know if your road or street has cable TV. If not you can check using our availability checker.

If your home is served by cable, you may be able to get the fastest broadband available in the UK! The two providers of cable in the UK are NTL and Telewest who offer many products for broadband internet.

Wireless Broadband

'Wireless broadband' typically means the ability to access broadband through a computer (or maybe a gaming device like Xbox Live) anywhere around a house or office and not need to be wired into the network or telephone line directly. This is done through a broadband "router" which will have a connection to the broadband (ADSL or Cable) network.

Most modern laptop computers come with a wireless interface, which means that you need to simply obtain a wireless router to connect to the broadband provided over your telephone line (ADSL) or cable connection. Many broadband providers will supply a wireless router with their package, and this is noted on our Compare Providers page where it is included or available. Otherwise, there are many wireless routes for sale in the UK which your selected provider will be able to advise upon.

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