So, you’ve decided to get upgrade your internet service. No doubt, during your research, you’ve probably come across the term broadband. In fact, most of packages provided by broadband internet providers in Canada, the US and the UK these days are high speed.
1. What is Broadband?
Broadband is a generic term for any kind of Internet service that allows you to browse the Internet, access your emails, or stream video at high speed. So, in simple terms, broadband is a high-speed Internet connection.
Let’s explain. Every webpage you visit, image you view, or every part of video you stream, comes to your home as small collections of data, also called packets. How fast these packets move on the network to your home depends on the speed of the line.
So, it’s called broadband because these packets can move a lot faster than traditional dial-up Internet using a modem and a telephone line.
2. Choosing Home Broadband: Fiber or Cable or DSL
When it comes to home Internet, you’ll not only have a choice of the speed you want, but also the type of service. Fiber, cable, and DSL are the most popular types of broadband service.
DSL uses your home’s telephone lines for an Internet connection. Although it’s faster than traditional dial-up Internet, it’s still a lot slower compared with fiber and cable.
In contrast, cable uses coaxial cables that your TV probably already uses. These cables have more bandwidth than telephone lines and this means cable is faster than DSL. Another benefit of cable Internet is that, unlike fiber, it’s widely available.
Fiber Internet uses fiber optical cables. As a result, fiber Internet is a lot faster than DSL and cable, which also makes it more expensive. Keep in mind, though, that it’s more reliable than the other options. A major drawback with fiber Internet is that it’s not available in all areas.
To give you an idea of the different speeds, fiber Internet offers you download and upload speeds in the range of 250 to 1,000 Mbps. In contrast, DSL gives you download speeds in the region of 10 to 500 Mbps while its upload speeds are typically much slower. Here, you can expect upload speeds in the region of 5 to 50 Mbps.
The slowest of the bunch, DSL, gives you download speeds in the region of 5 to 35 Mbps and upload speeds in the region of 1 to 10Mbps.
3. How Broadband Speeds Work
As stated above, every time you use the Internet to browse the web, check your email, or watch a movie, data comes to your home as packets. The speed of these packets is measured in Megabits per second or Mbps. So, the higher the speed rating of a connection, the faster it will be. For example, a 1000 Mbps fiber line will be faster than a 500 Mbps cable line.
But it’s not only the speed rating that affects the speed of your connection. There’s also latency. This is the time it takes for data to reach your computer and depends on the hardware you use and your location. Generally, this isn’t much of a concern, unless you want to use your connection for gaming.
4. Download and Upload Speeds
You’ll often notice that a specific Internet connection’s speed is given as separate upload and download speed values. As the name suggests, download speed is the speed at which you can download information from the Internet. So, your download speed will affect the quality of the videos you stream or how fast you’ll be able to download a large file.
Although this is probably the most important factor when considering broadband Internet, you should also consider upload speed—the speed at which you can upload or send information from your computer to the Internet. This is important for uses like gaming and video conferencing. So, if you’re a gamer or run a home business or office, you should look at improving your upload speeds, too.
5. Deciding on a Data Allowance
Deciding on the right data allowance for your household depends on what you want to do with your Internet connection. Typically, if you only use the Internet for email and social media, you’ll probably get by with about 20 GB per month.
If you stream videos regularly, you should consider 50 GB as a bare minimum. For example, according to Netflix, you’ll use 1 GB of data per hour when you stream a standard definition video. If you, however, stream HD videos, you’ll use 3 GB per hour.
This means, if you use Netflix a lot, say three hours per day in HD, you’ll use 9 GB per day or at least 270 GB per month. So, while 50 GB is the minimum, you’ll be better served when choosing an unlimited broadband connection.
6. What is Unlimited Broadband?
As the name suggests, unlimited broadband doesn’t put a limit on the amount of data you can upload or download from the Internet. As a result, you don’t have to worry about how much Internet you use or what you’ll pay if you go over your data limit.
Because of this, many households nowadays prefer unlimited broadband packages.