And the Broadband Post Code Lottery Winners Are…

When it comes to ADSL broadband – the most widespread mobile broadband technology – it really is a post code lottery. The connectivity levels we can achieve in our homes are intrinsically linked to the distance we are from the telephone exchange and the technology that is or isn’t sold at our local exchange. This article will look at why this is, and then we’ll look at why fibre optic broadband is a post code lottery too, and why mobile broadband is likewise. By the end of this article, you’ll be better able to investigate what your broadband options are so you can get the best deal.

ADSL through Line Rental

ADSL technology passes through the telephone line and that is why we need line rental in order for it to work. The infrastructure over which ADSL technology passes was built for telephones and telephone communication, and not for the much higher bandwidth activities of broadband; therefore, the cables are not fit for this purpose. If you consider the amount of data used for a telephone conversation and the amount used for streaming a high definition movie, this should become extremely apparent. The copper cables simply do not have the capacity to hold the data and transport it over long distances. When you live further from a telephone exchange than someone else, youre likely to get much slower broadband. Even exchanges that are a mile away can cause issues. If youre within 200 metres of your telephone exchange, however, you may well get connectivity speeds of 20 megabits per second on ADSL.

Your Telephone Exchange Installations

As well as distance from the exchange, its important to know what your telephone exchange is made up of. Indeed, many providers have installed specialist equipment in local exchanges to increase the bandwidth of the lines. They can, therefore, offer speeds up to 60 megabytes per second or at least up to 24 megabytes per second instead of only up to 8 megabytes per second. In fact, there are only a few providers – such as AOL – that offer the 8 megabits per second connection these days. If you are out of network – meaning that the provider has not installed anything in the local exchange – youre likely to pay more and get a lower level of service. It really is a post code lottery when it comes to getting ADSL.
Fibre Optic Broadband Lottery
The fibre optic broadband lottery is a similar case. Fibre optic broadband has hit somewhere between 50 and 60% of the country so far through the cables run by Virgin, BT and private companies in different cities. Whether youll be able to get broadband or not will be dependent on where you are, and youll need to plug your post code into a “can I get fibre optic broadband” search tool in order to find out which providers are available, if any, in your area. If you are lucky enough to get fibre optic broadband, youll be able to get good speeds – about 100 megabytes per second on Virgin and up to 80 megabytes per second on BT. Which one you get will depend on which package you choose and how much you want to spend.

Mobile Broadband
With mobile broadband, its still the same again. 99% of the country can get 3G connectivity but whether you can get good 3G is the question. With the fourth generation of mobile broadband having arrived through Everything, Everywhere to 50 % of the population, its still the case that 50% cannot get 4G. However, the network is rolling out around the country and, with Vodafone, O2 and 3 rolling out their networks too, soon it is going to be the case that 99% of the country will be able to get mobile broadband 4G. Its important to check the coverage of the providers you are considering before you actually commit. This could be through the official websites of the companies with a post code checker or, through mobile broadband comparison sites. Perhaps the best way to check a mobile broadband, especially if you are committing to a 24 month contract, is to see how the networks actually perform in your home.

You could ask friends to try different activities online and see how they perform in your home, or you could even buy a sim card and try it in a phone – if your phone is unlocked – in order to check the level of coverage yourself. This may involve a small investment, as you have to buy credit too. But it could well be worthwhile in the long run. Mobile broadband now offers the opportunity to get online on multiple devices through Mi-Fi routers and, so, mobile broadband, when it rolls out around the country, will be an increasingly popular home broadband solution for the masses. Data cost will remain high for a period of time, but when it starts falling and the network coverage is everywhere, there will be less of a ‘lottery factor involved in mobile broadband.

Winners of the Broadband Lottery
The winners of the broadband lottery tend to be those people who are in city centres or technology towns. In these locations, fibre optic broadband and mobile broadband arrived first, and so, the options for internet connectivity are high. Indeed, there are more telephone exchanges around London than anywhere else. When you start looking at more rural locations, youll find telephone exchanges further away for mobile broadband and less chances of having fibre optic broadband. There are some projects that taken fibre optic broadband to fairly remote regions. For example, there was a project up in North Wales that did this; however, these are few and far between, and there remain a number of people in the UK who cannot get broadband at all, except if they commit to the financial expense and hassle of getting satellite broadband.

Satellite Broadband
Satellite broadband is the only solution for the 170,000 or so homes in the UK who cant get fixed broadband or mobile broadband. Satellite broadband costs between £300 and £700 for hardware, with the upper levels often having installation included, too. For 25 pounds a month, you are likely to get around 20 gigabytes of data, and up to speeds of 20 megabytes per second. Its an expensive solution, but the only solution available to 100% of the UK with no lotteries involved whatsoever; and everyone can get it.

Unfortunately, of course, it is one of the least appealing in terms of technology considering the price, and its really only for those who cannot get broadband any other way but really need it. Over the coming years, more and more people will be able to get on fibre optic broadband and, as the government has planned, to get at least two megabytes per second connection for everybody and 24 megabytes per second connections to the majority in well over 95% of the country. This will take time, but those who are in poor connectivity locations can be encouraged by the fact that fibre optic cables are being run faster than they ever have been.

Sam Jones daughter was not happy with her line rental charges.  To get a better deal she looked online using sites such as uSwitch and changed to a cheaper package.


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