Broadband: A beginner's guide header image

Published: 29th Apr 2015

Broadband has become an important element of modern-day life and a permanent fixture in the world of work and home for most people in the UK.

Here are some answers to common questions about this type of connectivity.

Why is it useful?

There are a host of benefits attached to a quality internet connection, but these may not be apparent if you're struggling with a substandard, slow and unreliable service. Those using dial-up internet usually have to wait ten or more seconds to load a webpage and even longer to download an email.

Broadband speeds this process up significantly and allows you to do so much more, such as play games, stream films and TV shows and download music. It also enables more than one person at a time to use the connection, which means the whole house can be doing their own thing at once.

You can connect different devices to your Wi-Fi, including tablets and smartphones, which isn't possible using a dial-up service.

What speeds can I get?

The speed of your internet depends on a few factors: where you live, what provider you use and the broadband infrastructure you have access to. Generally speaking, your service should fall between 512 kilobits per second (Kbps) and ten megabits per second (Mbps), but faster connections are available for some people.

If you're using a 56 Kbps dial-up connection, then 512 Kbps broadband is almost ten times faster, which makes an enormous difference to what you can do online.

Some rural communities are limited in the speeds they can access, which means alternatives like satellite broadband are a more viable option than a cable-based service.

How do I set up broadband?

Firstly, you'll need to find out what is available and what service providers operate in your area. The most common form of technology used is ADSL, which uses a BT telephone connection and is available to most properties in the UK. However, the speed of service will differ between postcodes, so ensure to ask how quick you can expect the broadband to be.

There are alternatives available, such as fibre-optic, cable modems, DSL and satellite broadband -  so no matter where you live, you should be able to access at least one of these.

How do I choose a broadband provider?

Again, this depends on where you live and who provides a broadband service in your postcode. Once you've found out who you can choose from, you should compare the companies against each other to get more bang for your buck. There are also a handful of comparison websites that can help you see how providers measure up against each other.

You will have to make a decision about what is most important to you when deciding who to go with. For example, if you're looking for the cheapest price, then you may have to compromise on the speed of the service. Conversely, if the speed of the broadband is the deciding factor, then you may pay a little more.

What happens next?

Once you know what type of broadband you can access and have picked a provider, you just need to contact the firm, sign up to the service and arrange installation. It's really simple!

After the installation, you just need to connect your devices to the Wi-Fi, using the passcode usually found on the modem, and then you'll be able to get online and start surfing the web.