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Advantages Of Faster Broadband

Everyone talks about their broadband speed and how fast their connection is, but in the real world what does this mean? In this blog, we’re going to look at what a good connection to the internet means for your day to day life.

The average home has four devices that can connect to the internet, and these devices will be capable of streaming music, video and have other internet-enabled service. Here are some reasons why you need a faster connection.

Enjoy HD streaming

If you stream video content then you’ll be aware that files for HD are bigger than standard definition. Bigger files mean more bandwidth to get the same download speed. If you opt for a faster connection you can stream in higher quality.

Faster downloads

With a faster internet connection, the time spent downloading will be far less. This means less time waiting for your download.

Multiple users

There are many devices and programs that use high amounts of bandwidth. Video calling, media streaming and online gaming can all use lots of data. If you have multiple devices you can use them with confidence you won’t be strangling your bandwidth if you have a faster connection.

Faster web browsing

If you have a slow connection web pages can take forever to load. No one likes this frustration, so having a faster connection means less waiting for images to download.

Gaming

A faster connection means less buffering, which means a better gaming experience and the difference between conceding a goal on a FIFA tournament and pulling off a great last-ditch tackle.

Video calling

Video calling on services like Skype and Apple’s Facetime can be a great way to stay in touch with someone, but they eat up bandwidth on your internet connection. A faster connection means waiting less time to connect, fewer dropouts and you won’t lose the picture.

Backups

This is one that people really don’t think about. Modern phones use the cloud for backups and this means connecting to the internet to achieve this. They do this while you’re sleeping and faster speeds mean you can backup quicker with less chance of errors.

Hopefully, this will explain why having a faster broadband connection is preferable, so you can now make a more informed decision.

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How Fibre Optics Work

Fibre optics send information coded into a beam of light down a plastic or glass pipe. The technology was first used in the 1950s for endoscopes to help doctors see inside patient’s bodies without having to cut it open. During the 1960s engineers found a way to transmit telephone calls at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) though in the real world it only travels at about a third of that speed.

Optical fibres as they’re known are made of silica glass or plastic. Plastic fibres are more durable but have more noise, meaning more errors when transmitting. These fibres are very thin and are typically a tenth of the thickness of a human hair. Each of these fibres can handle up to 25000 phone calls simultaneously. Typically, a fibre optic cable has hundreds of strands, so can handle millions of phone calls.

They work by carrying information as light in the form of a laser beam. This beam sends pulses multiple thousand times a second. At the other end, a photoelectric cell (this is sensitive to light) decodes this laser beam into digital information required for your computer.

So how does light travel down the cable?

Light travels down a fibre optic cable by bouncing off the walls. Each photon (particle of light) bounces off the wall like a bobsleigh. You probably think that the light would just travel through the exterior glass right? Well, no because if the angle it bounces at is less than 42° then it reflects back in on itself as though it were a mirror. This is called total internal reflection and it means the light will always stay inside the pipe. The cable is also likely to have a cover made from a material with a different refractive index. This means that the light will not be able to refract through it or escape from where it’s meant to be in the cable core. This different material is called the cladding.

The advantages of fibre optics

Copper cables are liable to interference, which causes noise and errors. Optical fibres can travel 10 times further than electrical signals without needing to be boosted. There is no crosstalk, IE interference between cable strands. There is also higher bandwidth, meaning the fibre can handle more information than copper cables. All of this means a more reliable connection that allows more transmission of information, which means faster broadband speeds for you.

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The Difference Between Cable And Fibre Broadband

Everybody needs broadband in the modern world, but in this blog, we’re going to demystify some of the terminologies to help you make the best choice.

What is fibre broadband?

Fibre broadband uses fibre optic cables to send data. This means that the signal is sent using light stead of an electrical impulse. It’s much faster than standard cable broadband, also known as ADSL broadband. Fibre broadband uses fibre optic lines up until it reaches your local street cabinet where it will be joined to your home via copper wires. Some suppliers might supply a fibre cable right to your home, but you would have to check with your supplier to see if they offer this.

What is cable broadband?

Cable broadband is provided by providers like Virgin Media. With cable broadband, most of your connection is still made up of fibre optic cables (yep, slightly confusing). The difference is within the last mile of the connection from the exchange to your home. Fibre optic broadband uses standard copper phone cable for this last link to your house. Cable broadband uses coaxial cable. This carries data faster than copper phone cable and loses less data loss over distances.

What difference does this make?

At the time of writing, cable broadband packages are currently faster. Fibre broadband can deliver speeds of up to 76Mb per second, which is fast enough to download and stream multiple films at once, play games and browse the web at the same time. Fibre to the home (FTTH) can offer speeds of up to 1000MB per second, which is lightning fast, but currently, very few providers offer this. Virgin Media offers broadband speeds of up to 300Mb on their cable service.

Both cable and fibre broadband is available at speeds that are fast enough for most people’s purposes, but what you’re paying for can be different to what speed you get in real life. This is because your quoted speed is only theoretical. Depending on your location, your speed will vary. This is because of a multitude of factors including your location, how far you are from an exchange, what type of building you live in, the technology used in your local cabinet etc. Once you sign up, you’ll be able to get a more accurate representation of what speed you can actually get.

Cost

The speed of your broadband normally dictates how much you pay. You will also be subject to limits on how much data you can download in a calendar month with some providers. Others offer unlimited downloads as part of the price you pay.

You can use this postcode checker to check broadband availability in your area.

The Verdict

For most people, most broadband speeds will be more than enough. If you have multiple devices and use them for streaming and downloading large files then you will find faster speeds and unlimited data a godsend. It’s really up to you to decide how much you’re willing to pay for your broadband. There is a host of providers who offer better deals on broadband than others, so I’d advise shopping around until you find the best cost/performance ratio for you.

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Finding The Right Broadband Deal

It can be confusing when you’re looking to get a new broadband deal, so in this blog, we’re looking to clear up the jargon and help you get the package that suits you best.

What is the best broadband deal?

When it really comes down to it, the best deal is the one that meets your needs for the best price. It really is as simple as that. So, we’re going to look at features available and whether you need them

Unlimited or Usage Limit?

If you use the internet to stream video content (Netflix, iPlayer etc), music (Spotify, Apple Music, or play games online then you will soon find yourself using lots of data. If you do any of these things you’ll probably need an unlimited package. If you just use it for checking emails you can make do with a data limit.

What Speed Do I Need?

If you stream regularly then you’ll be looking to get the package with the highest speeds. This means less waiting for content to download. If you only download files occasionally or browse social media then you can get a cheaper package with lower speeds and it won’t affect your user experience.

How many people will be using it?

The more people using your internet connection, the more it will slow down. If you have kids gaming, listening to music and other people watching streaming content you’ll be looking for faster speeds to avoid slowdowns.

Do you want TV?

If you are looking to pay for TV as well then suppliers like Sky, Virgin and BT can provide TV and broadband packages, saving you money on both TV and broadband.

Phone lines

Some broadband packages come with a landline too. If you use your landline often you can make use of free minute packages. If you use your mobile these won’t affect you so find a deal that doesn’t offer phone line deals.

Rewards

Certain providers may offer vouchers, cash back or store cards. Don’t be swayed to get a certain package because of these offers, but they may be a useful perk for some.

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How Wi-Fi Works

Wi-Fi is the most popular way to connect to the Internet, with 60% of people connecting wirelessly. For most people, however, it’s practically magic how it works, so in this blog, we’ll look at how the technology actually works.

Designed to replace cables, like wireless technology, it uses radio waves, just like an old-fashioned tranny. A radio system uses a transmitter and a receiver that turns radio waves into a signal which is then turned into sound inside your radio’s circuitry. Wi-Fi works on a similar principle, except there is a transmitter and receiver on each side. Each transmitter and receiver uses Internet Protocol to check that every byte has been transmitted and more importantly received correctly.

The Wi-Fi specification offers two frequencies that the transmitters transmit on. These are 2.4GHz and 5GHz. 2.4 GHz can transmit further because lower frequencies can broadcast further. 5 GHz offers more channels to transmit on. You don’t have to worry about these because your device will automatically find the frequency that is best to use at that moment in time. The best way to think about this is to imagine a road with many lanes. The 5GHz road will be shorter with more lanes, whereas the 2.4 GHz will have fewer lanes but goes further. For most people, 5GHz offers enough distance to use at home.

What if my signal doesn’t reach a room in my house?

Radio waves move their way around by banging off of walls, so you might find you lose signal at the end of your house that isn’t close to your router. To overcome this problem, there is a trend for a signal booster, that will boost your signal, meaning you can pick it up much further from your router.

Is it secure?

Wi-Fi is a secure technology with encryption at both ends, meaning only your device and the transmitter are the only places that know the exact data being transmitted. It does this by using an encryption technology called Advanced Encryption Standard.

Is it backwards compatible?

In short, yes. No matter how old your device with Wi-Fi is it will connect to the latest routers, meaning your older devices won’t quite be obsolete yet.