As we rely increasingly on the internet for work, education and relaxation, it’s becoming more important than ever to have access to fast broadband speeds. But with a plethora of broadband providers all vying for your custom, how do you choose which one to go with to get the fastest broadband? Read this guide to discover superfast 300mb internet today!
Unfortunately, choosing a broadband provider isn’t as simple as selecting an electricity or gas provider, for example. There are a number of factors to take into consideration such as the monthly cost; the line rental cost; whether you get a better deal by taking out a combined broadband, phone and TV package; the maximum download and upload speed offered by the different providers and the available broadband speed for your geographical area.
Currently, the fastest widely available broadband speed is up to 516Mb, offered by Virgin Media. Virgin is the only cable provider in the UK and has an extensive fibre optic cable network. More crucially, it uses a coaxial cable to send the signal along the final section from street to house which is much more efficient than the copper phone line used by other providers. The monthly charges are very competitive, too.
There are faster broadband speeds, but they are much less widely available. BT offers speeds of up to 300Mb on its fibre to the premises (FTTP) connections which are available on demand. However, these connections are only available from a limited number of exchanges and for a hefty charge.
Despite the advertised broadband speeds, you should be aware they come with the caveat of “up to”. In reality, very few customers can actually receive their broadband at that maximum speed. Industry regulations say that the quoted maximum speed has to be available to at least 10% of the provider’s customers, which means that up to 90% of customers may not have access to that speed.
Your maximum broadband speed is more dependent on where you live than on the speed offered by your provider. You can find out your potential maximum speed by inputting your post code onto a price comparison website such as Uswitch or onto an individual provider’s site.
It’s worth doing this speed test before committing yourself to a contract with an individual provider. Even if the provider advertises superfast broadband, your geographical limitations may mean that your real broadband speed is much slower.
The potential maximum speed of your broadband is dependent on many factors, largely to do with where you live. Superfast fibre optic broadband is being rolled out and is available yet in many small towns and rural areas. Also, the further away you are from a telephone exchange, the slower your broadband is likely to be. As telephone exchanges are more densely located in urban areas, this means that once again customers in rural areas and small towns are less likely to have access to the fastest broadband speeds.
Even if you’re not one of the lucky 10% or so of customers who can achieve the advertised fastest broadband speeds, you can still make sure you make the most of what’s available. Look carefully at how the individual companies provide their broadband service.
If you’re in an area covered by Virgin Media or BT you should be able to get acceptably fast broadband. As explained previously, Virgin’s cable network is the most efficient and fastest and has the edge over BT because of its final cabled section. Many other providers use BT’s fibre optic network for their superfast broadband services including Sky, Plusnet, Talk Talk, Zen and EE.
If Virgin or BT hasn’t reached your area yet, then you’re stuck with the fastest speeds available from a phone line (ADSL). The copper and aluminium cables used for phone lines can’t support as much information and get much slower further away from the exchange. They can also suffer from interference so broadband speeds will always be slower.
However, you can maximise this slower speed by looking for a provider offering ADSL2+ technology. This means that extra equipment has been installed at the exchange to improve the connection and reduce the loss of efficiency as the signal travels. Plusnet are the current market leaders for ADSL2+ broadband.
If you find your broadband speed chronically slow and none of the main providers are able to improve it, there are other options. Many mobile phone network providers offer mobile broadband and in some cases, particularly in areas where 4G technology is available, the download speeds available are faster than those available via ADSL.
Satellite broadband is another option, offering download speeds of up to 20Mb. However, there are limited providers, it’s relatively expensive and it’s not suitable for any internet activity such as gaming which needs real-time responses.
You can find out which provider will give you the fastest broadband speeds available in your area by putting your post code into the speed tests on the various price comparison websites such as uswitch.com or moneysupermarket.com or on the websites for the individual providers. Remember that the fastest speed advertised by the individual providers may not be available in your area so it’s important to do the speed test.
However, many of the providers are investing heavily and expanding their cable or fibre optic network so you may find your individual situation changes over time. Keep an eye on the Gov.uk website for ongoing and future developments in your area.
You may also want to read about: Mobile Broadband