What different types of broadband are there? Which is best?

Broadband can be confusing, because there are several different ways of getting your home or business connected – but which is best for you?

If you’re in an urban environment, you’ll be able to pick and choose between different types of broadband. But if you live rurally, your choices will be much more limited.

This guide explains the broadband options that would be best for your location.

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What is broadband?

This may seem like a very basic question, but with there being so much jargon and confusing terminology flying around, we want to help our customers understand exactly what they’re buying.

Broadband is by far the most common communications technology used to connect your home or workplace to the internet. It's a higher speed way of providing data to your computer, laptop, smartphone, tablet, games console, smart TV or any other internet-ready device.

A modern internet connection is called "broadband" because it's capable of carrying a greater amount of data simultaneously, due to it having wider (or "broader") bandwidth.

In the early days of the internet, “dial-up” or “narrowband” was the most common method of getting online - and it was far slower.

How fast is my current broadband connection?

Confusingly for consumers, the term “broadband” doesn't define speed or performance in any way. Depending on where you live and the types of broadband available to you at your location, you could see broadband connections speeds ranging from as slow as a near-unusable 1 or 2 megabits per second (or Mbps) right up into the hundreds of Mbps. Things vary greatly from area to area and postcode to postcode.

It all depends on what types of broadband you can get where you are, because each offers different levels of performance, but not all are available everywhere. Although the majority of UK homes and businesses can now access a fixed-line connection with speeds of 24 Mbps or more, there are still 600,000 homes that just can't get an acceptable landline broadband service that runs at 10 Mbps or more.

If you’re unsure what broadband speeds your current connection is running at, our speed test gives you a really quick and easy way to find out.

Broadband Speed Test

Wired and wireless broadband

The method by which broadband is provided to any given property falls into one of two types. It either gets delivered down a physical connection or line, or via radio signals, so over the air.

It’s very useful to understand the differences between these delivery methods, because that will help you choose the type of broadband that will perform the best at your particular location. It also may explain why your existing broadband is slow and how to fix that.

Types of wired broadband

There are three main types of wired broadband (also known as landline broadband). These are:-

  • Full fibre broadband, also known as 'fibre to the premises' or FTTP. This is the fastest type of broadband connection and involves a fibreoptic cable running dirtectly into your property. It's most common in heavily built-up areas.
  • Standard fibre broadband, also known as 'fibre to the cabinet' or FTTC. This is the most common type of fibre-based broadband service, where the green cabinet serving your property is connected up to fibre, but the last part of the connection to your property still comes down your copper wire phone line. This becomes problematic when that run of copper wire is too long.
  • Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line broadband - or 'ADSL' for short - is where the entire connection between your property and the telephone exchange is copper wire-based. It's still common in more rural areas and is almost always incapable of delivering the sort of broadband performance needed by all homes and businesses today.

For more information on these broadband services, the differences between them, the performance that each offers and whether you’re likely to have access to them, please click here.

What Is Fibre Broadband?

Types of wireless broadband

Separately, there are a number of different types of broadband that don’t rely on wires or cables to provide an internet connection at to your property. These are:-

  • 4G broadband. Sometimes known as 'mobile broadband', this uses the mobile networks which your own mobile telephone runs on to deliver a fast and reliable broadband service to homes and businesses.
  • 5G broadband. This is a newer form of mobile broadband, using the latest generation of communication technology which is currently being rolled out across the UK by the mobile network operators.
  • Fixed Wireless Access broadband. Also known as 'FWA' for short, this requires a local service provider to have set up an outdoor wireless network in your area, so it's not widely available. Its connectivity is delivered via radio transmissions.
  • Satellite broadband. This is transmitted direct to properties from satellites orbiting the earth, with each property needing a special satellite dish to pick these signals up and communicate back with the satellites in space. Although the slowest and costliest broadband technology, it is available anywhere in the UK.

To learn more about wireless broadband services, how they differ, what speeds they typically provide and whether they are likely to be available where you are, please click here.

What Is Wireless Broadband?

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Would you like to know more? Give us a call on 03333 447700 or email us
at enquiries@national-broadband.co.uk – or just fill in the enquiry form at the top of this page