Once the latest technology, the broadband lightning-fast internet connection has become relatively ubiquitous. Getting to grips with all the complicated terms that come with broadband hasn’t gotten any easier, however!
So what are some of these unfamiliar terms, and what do they mean? What are some things you really must know about broadband? Let’s take a look:
1. What is it?
What is broadband, anyway? The term refers to a high-speed internet connection that is “always on”. Broadband is provided by companies called “internet service providers”, or ISPs. These ISPs refer to the connection they provide as “always on” to contrast it with dial-up. In this much slower phone line-based connection, you were famously ‘kicked off’ whenever another household member wanted to place a phone call.
That said, not all modern internet connections are technically broadband. This is because not all connections are high enough speed to be considered so. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines broadband as a download speed of 25 megabits per second with an upload speed of 3 Mbps. Most internet connections today are well faster than this.
2. What is WiFi?
Is WiFi synonymous with broadband, then? Are they the same thing? Yes, WiFi can go hand in hand with broadband. You can receive your high-speed broadband connection through a wireless Wi-Fi connection in your home.
But WiFi isn’t broadband. WiFi is simply the wireless connection that can deliver your broadband. Broadband itself comes from cables in your street and can be distributed through a WiFi router or cable if you prefer.
3. What’s a fair use policy?
You will need to watch out for this when choosing a new broadband plan. Many broadband plans come with fair use policies and data limits. A fair use policy is a rule to prevent users from taking up too much bandwidth at key times of the day. This ensures that everyone can access the internet when they need to.
Then there are data limits. Your data limit is the maximum amount of information your broadband supplier permits you to download within a set period – typically a month or so.
These policies help ensure everyone has equal access to the internet. However, be careful – even so-called “unlimited” mobile or broadband deals are still subject to these policies.
Though you have no limit on how much you stream, listen, and download when you have an unlimited package, the fair use policy can still kick in and decrease your download speeds during peak times. After a month or two of strenuous internet use under such a deal, a data limit may also come into force.
4. What is bandwidth?
The word bandwidth refers to the quantity of information your internet can deal with at a certain time. Bandwidth is measured in Mbps – megabits per second. If there are several big internet users in your home, especially if they like to game or stream often, a good bandwidth speed is what you need to prevent your games and shows from suffering.
5. How can I find the broadband I need?
The broadband options available to you may vary depending on where you live. A rural area, for example, may need help accessing top-tier speeds. However, these days, most people have reasonably speedy broadband at their disposal.
But how do they find out which broadband choices are available to them? Well, a broadband availability checker and comparison site is your best bet. These websites pull all the information about the different broadband deals available in your local area and present them in an easy-to-compare table. You can then scroll up and down and find the option that’s best for you.
6. Is broadband really important?
The internet is a nuisance, right? It just gets in the way of connecting, distracts us, and prevents us from clocking off, doesn’t it? Yes, these are all valid concerns. However, as the pandemic has shown us, access to the internet is imperative for daily life. Most of us no longer have to work and learn from home. But if anyone ever needs to, speedy internet is a must.
The internet breaks down the world’s barriers, makes education on a wide range of subjects accessible to a wide range of people, and even allows remote careers. Of course, it’s important to set boundaries. But for safety, education, health, rural links, the general quality of life, and much more, broadband is integral for everyone.
7. What is a modem?
Everyone used to talk about their modem speed back in the dial-up days. But what are these? And do we still need them?
Whether for home or business IT services, you need a modem. Your modem is the box that connects your home network to either the internet or a wide area network. We still use them today, though they’re now several times faster than their early models!
The router, also called a hub, is a similar device that can simultaneously connect a range of wired and wireless devices to the internet. It does this through your modem’s local area network or WiFi network.
While a modem provides a gateway to your internet connection, a router is more like a hub for your devices. Therefore, you will need both a modem and a router to get online, though many internet service providers give you a modem box with its router built-in.
8. What’s a bundle?
When comparing different broadband deals, you probably come across deals referred to as “bundles”. What are these deals? And are they worth it?
A bundle deal groups your broadband service with other, similar services you may also enjoy using, like a mobile phone or TV services.
It can make sense to group these services together – if these were services you were going to use your internet connection with anyway, you get the ease of only needing to work with one supplier and the savings you make mean that bundles are a good deal for many people.