The UK Broadband market is developing and transforming. Not that many years ago, it was difficult to get decent speeds or connectivity that would enable streaming, online gaming, or VoIP. Nowadays, Internet connectivity is, on average, above 10MBPS on fixed broadband. With the coming of super-fast broadband and 4G mobile broadband, UK consumers are going to be spoilt for choice.
This article will look at super-fast broadband and mobile broadband and how they are developing. By the end of this you should know more about the broadband industry, and be in a better position to choose broadband now and in the future.
UK Broadband through Fibre Optics
In order to understand the new wave of fibre optic broadband, we should first look at ADSL, the most common form of broadband technology.
ADSL is passed through the copper cables of the BT telephone network. You will need a telephone line in order to access the service and your telephone line will need to be activated. You simply plug in your router and you will be able to get wireless connectivity around your house. The major determinant of the speed of ADSL, above and beyond the package you buy, is the distance you are from the telephone exchange. This is because the speed of Internet slows over distance on the copper cables.
Nowadays, there is ADSL2 and ADSL2+. These new technologies can make broadband over ADSL faster. ADSL2+ is around three times as fast as ADSL.
Fibre optic broadband is different in that it is run over specific cables that do not lose speed over distance. This means it doesnt matter how far you are from the telephone exchange. Fibre optic broadband is run over its own cables, and so you are not tied to a BT line.
Because fibre optic broadband doesnt lose speed over distance, you get much closer to the theoretical speeds of the connection. This means that you can achieve up to 100MBPS on home broadband connections. This is quite astounding and is enough for just about anyone.
The Main Benefits of Super-Fast Broadband
The biggest benefit of super-fast broadband is the speed you can achieve. The speed means that you can do a number of things that you cant do on slower connections.
Multiple people streaming movies
Downloading large files faster
Multiple people playing multiplayer games
Better video chat, although you may get some jitter
Faster on-demand downloading of channels to your TV
Less buffering when you watch streams from video sites
All these benefits are making super-fast broadband very popular. Its currently available to around 60% of the UK through the BT network. BT Open Reach runs the Infinity service and many other providers piggy back off the service in order to provide fibre optic broadband. These providers buy up a portion of bandwidth from the provider, and, therefore, are able to resell it at their own rates. Many of these services that use the BT network are extremely good, as is also the case with ADSL sub-providers.
Virgin Media have their own cables to around 50% of the UK. Theyve invested heavily over many years and also have their own digital TV service running off the cables. Its a fantastic service that they offer with the fastest speeds in the UK. The top speeds are, on average, around 20MBPS faster than the top BT speeds to consumers.
Fibre optic broadband really is an exciting adventure for consumers, as it opens up the world of online media to everyone who gets the service.
Mobile Broadband Revolution and 4G
Its not only fixed broadband that is going through a revolution; mobile broadband is developing very quickly, with 4G connectivity, the 4th generation of mobile broadband, rolling out around the country. A couple of months ago Ofcom held their auction of the 4G spectrum, and notable names such as O2, Vodafone, and Three bought up portions of the spectrum for their own use. They invested up to 800 million pounds in order to get a slice of the cake. Everything Everywhere, a company formed through the merger of T-Mobile and Orange, are already offering 4G. They are the first to the market because they already had the capability and Ofcom said they were allowed to use it.
EE have covered around 50% of the country and it is anticipated that 4G connectivity will reach similar levels to 3G over the next year or so. 3G covers around 99% of the UKs population. This means most of us will be able to get really good broadband over a mobile connection.
Speeds of Mobile Broadband
UK Broadband, over the mobile networks, reaches around 1.4MBPS on 3G. The 4th generation of mobile broadband is about ten times faster than this. You can expect average speeds of about 5, 6, or 7MBPS. This is plenty for streaming high definition movies and doing just about anything that a single user could want to do. With the advancements in routers for mobile broadband you now have Mi-Fi as an option. Mi-Fi is available through most providers, and means that you can hook up up to five devices simultaneously. Essentially, it works as a mobile broadband router and doesnt need to be plugged into any devices. It will broadcast a wireless signal, much as your home broadband router does. This is great because it means you can get your smart phone, your tablet, and your laptop on mobile broadband at the same time.
Both fixed broadband and mobile broadband are really moving forward. The consumer is going to have to stay in touch with the new advances in technology or they could be left with a package that they are paying for that is no longer decent value for money. As technology improves, it gets cheaper, and thats what we will see over the coming year as broadband takes the next step towards unlimited power. Exciting times ahead!
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