Unlimited Fast Broadband

April 26, 2010 · Filed Under Broadband, Guides · Comment 

You will have no doubt seen broadband providers advertising all manner of different broadband packages with unlimited downloads being used as one of their main selling points. Download music, movies and large photos ’til your heart’s content the advertisements say – but what’s that in small print at the bottom of the ad?

Subject to acceptable use policy – most unlimited broadband providers do not in fact offer unlimited downloads to everyone. This is actually done to protect customers against rogue users who download more than their fair share which in turn will have negative repercussions for other users as the bandwidth available becomes limited.

Also the amount you can download is obviously going to be affected by how fast your connection is. Ever noticed how your connection speed seems to slow down at peak times? That’s because broadband companies throttle your download speeds when the most users are on so your average speed during quiet times may be as good as 5 or 6Mb during off peak hours but you could see that drop to 2Mb’s just when you need it most. Gamers will note the horrible occurrence of “lag” when playing online – that my friend is throttling from the ISP!

What can you do about your downloads?

ADSL broadband is the most common form of internet connection. This is where you plug your phone into the modem or router which in turn plugs into your computer (either wired or wirelessly) and you can access all the pleasures of the internet with the minimum of fuss. However if you run a broadband speed check you’ll find that very rarely if ever will you hit the golden top end speeds that your company promises that you can reach.

The reason? Well there are a couple. When a company says you can reach up to 8Mbps or up to 24Mbps they are saying these are the top figures you can reach if your are situated in an ideal geographical location e.g. slap bang next to the phone exchange with fantastic cabling. This is the case for maybe a few thousand lucky people but realistically that isn’t going to happen for most of us. We can still benefit from speeds that are more than sufficient but what happens if you have a real need for speed?

Cable Broadband – A Faster Broadband Solution

If you choose to get your broadband from a cable provider you can get fantastic speeds such as 50MB broadband with Virgin Media. Unlike ADSL you will actually get speeds pretty close to the top value as the data travels digitally through Fibre Optic cables so you are less likely to suffer from the degradation of the signal.

Please Note - All Prices Quoted Are Correct at Time of Posting

Broadband Switching Guide

April 26, 2010 · Filed Under Broadband, Guides · Comment 

Since regulations were passed allowing broadband providers to install their own equipment in BT exchanges the broadband market is becoming increasingly competitive – and possibly more confusing. It can be difficult to know which is the best broadband deal for you, but with companies offering unlimited downloads, FREE modems and fast speeds for less than a tenner’ there has never been a better time to switch your broadband provider.

Switching has been a hot topic in recent years with deregulation in many industries seeing people switch frequently to get the best deals, for example people switching energy providers. Broadband users have traditionally stuck with their current providers until a change of circumstance such as poor service or a change of residence has forced a change upon them. This consumer inertia can probably be attributed to the confusing (and possibly) geeky nature of some of the broadband terminology used and the fact that people simply don’t know how easy it is to switch!

Follow our simple broadband switching guide below and you’ll be making savings before you know it (and you may even get quicker broadband).

  1. Check the length of your contract with your current Internet Service Provider (ISP).
    If you are still under contract unfortunately you can’t switch unless you can prove that your provider’s provision has not been up to scratch.
  2. Check to see if your current provider charges a cancellation fee.
    This will be in the terms and conditions you agreed to when you signed up. Any charge is often set to cover the provider’s loss of equipment they provided you with when you joined e.g. router, VoIP phone etc.
  3. Contact your current ISP for a free Migration Authorisation Code (MAC).
    This pin number enables your new broadband provider to securely move your broadband connection to their service.
  4. Once you have the MAC you can purchase your new broadband online.
    Be quick though as your unique MAC code is only valid for 30 days. When purchasing your new broadband package you will be asked to add your details including your MAC and once your order is complete your new provider will be in touch to let you know a time frame for the move. Don’t cancel your previous broadband provision as your new provider will do this for you.
  5. Now all you need to do is sit back and relax!
    The hard work is done. The switch to your new broadband provider should take no more than two weeks and ideally you won’t have any interruption to your broadband service.

OK. So that’s our easy to follow switching guide. Now all you need to do is find the providers in your local area and compare the broadband packages they have in store for you.

If you would like to get your MAC Code the number for the major broadband service providers is below (number correct at time of publishing.) :

  • AOL 08703 202 020
  • Be 0844 499 5555
  • BT 0800 800 150
  • Demon 08452 722 333
  • Eclipse 07392 333 301
  • NTL 08000 522 000
  • O2 08002 300 202
  • PlusNet 08451 400 200
  • Post Office 08457 223 344
  • Sky 08705 515 515
  • TalkTalk 08000 490 049
  • Virgin Media 08458 407 777
  • Virgin.net 08450 451 30

Please Note - All Prices Quoted Are Correct at Time of Posting

Choosing a Business Broadband Package

March 29, 2010 · Filed Under Broadband, Guides · Comment 

Choices for business broadband packages seem endless. Almost all internet service providers offer business broadband deals, and often it can be very difficult to choose between them, and determine which package is best.

On the surface many business broadband packages look very similar to one another, however if you dig a little deeper, you will find many key differences.
Here are some things you should consider when choosing your provider:

  • Support – Is perhaps the single most important factor when choosing a business broadband package. You need to know just how good the ISP’s support is. Questions such as whether they will send an engineer if required, which operating systems they support and whether that includes Linux users. Most importantly, whether the ISP will sign a Service Level Agreement (SLA) and provide 24 hour support.
  • Speed– Is also something you need to consider, and how important is it to your business. If all you are doing really is sending and receiving emails, and browsing, then slower speeds are sufficient, and speed should not influence your decision too much. If, however, you are working with graphics or media, speed might be essential, so you might want to look into what is a T1 line and how it can help your business, or if DSL is a better choice for you.
  • Security – Always look to obtain the best security possible, even if that means you need to pay a little extra for the peace of mind.
  • Price – Price is always one the key factors in arriving at a decision. It is not always best simply to choose the cheapest package, since a lower cost usually means less functionality.
  • Backup – Having back up is important, but it is not imperative that your ISP throws it in as part of the deal, since often it can be bought from third parties for a small fee. If it is not part of the deal, do not let that fact affect your overall decision.
  • Freebies – Who doesn’t like a freebie? You should not however let whether the ISP is bundling freebies with your package influence your final decision. Free email and web space is easy to obtain, however free access to Wi-Fi hotspots for employees on the go may be incredibly useful.

Price is not everything when it comes to choosing a business broadband plan. You should not dismiss out of hand the costlier packages. Often the added features can save a lot of time, money and heartache down the line, and peace of mind more than justifies the added expense.

Please Note - All Prices Quoted Are Correct at Time of Posting

Choosing a Mobile Broadband Package

March 26, 2010 · Filed Under Broadband, Guides, Mobile Broadband, Mobile Broadband Guides · Comment 

Choosing a mobile broadband package will largely depend on how often you use the internet and what you plan to use it for. Mobile broadband is generally not the right option for those who heavily use the internet and download of a lot of files.  It does however make a lot of sense for people who are on the go. Before choosing a provider you should also take the time to check out how good the reception in your area.

Contract Mobile Broadband

Just like with your mobile phone, mobile broadband packages are available on contract. Contracts can range between 12 to 24 months. Each contract has a different data transfer limit, some offer different connection speeds, and there are differences in prices. Most however come bundled with a free wireless dongle.

Like with most things, it is best to shop around a look for the best deal on offer, especially since it is a rapidly growing market, competition is intensifying and there is an opportunity to pick up great bargains.

You may find however, that it is better to pay a little more, or commit to a longer contract so that you get faster speeds and bigger data transfer limits.

Many contracts come with free laptops or netbooks included.

Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband

PAYG mobile broadband is exactly the same as PAYG mobile phones. The major advantage with PAYG is that it does not tie you into a contract, instead all you need to do is top up your data transfer limit as and when you need too.

You will however need to by your own dongle, but that is balanced by the fact that you do not run the risk of exceeding your limit and paying additional charges.

Some providers offer starter kits, which are very similar to PAYG, but comes with a pre-loaded data allowance, designed to give customers the ability to try out mobile broadband for the first time.

Starter kits are also available. These are similar to PAYG packages, but they come pre-loaded with a data allowance. They are for people who want to try out mobile broadband for the first time.

Please Note - All Prices Quoted Are Correct at Time of Posting

What is Mobile Broadband?

March 25, 2010 · Filed Under Broadband, Guides, Mobile Broadband, Mobile Broadband Guides · Comment 

Mobile internet access is the latest development in broadband, and obviously because of the sheer convenience of being connected wherever you may be, is an increasingly popular option.

Mobile broadband allows users to access the internet using mobile phone networks using 3G technology and the latest development 4G also known as Wi-Max, which is wireless internet service provision (without mobile phone coverage and much faster than 3G.)

In the purest sense of the word mobile broadband forgoes the need for a fixed line connection to the internet, and there are a few competing technologies, but for the purposes of this guide, we confine it to internet access provided by mobile phone networks.

How Does it Work?

As we explained earlier, mobile broadband uses mobile phone networks to provide internet access, contrasting with fixed line broadband which either uses copper telephone wires, or fibre optic cables.

Mobile broadband is a wireless solution, and should not be confused with Wi-Fi, which only allows wireless connectivity to the internet when the user is in range of their router. Mobile broadband allows users to access the internet wherever there is a mobile phone signal.

3G technology in theory provides internet speeds as high as 7.2 Mbps. However that speed is a theoretical and is rarely if ever achievable in practice, when there are many users connected to the network.

3G is responsible for the explosion in smartphones that almost everyone seems to own now, and is the technology that drives internet access for the Apple iPhone.

Mobile phone companies who offer internet access provide their customers with a USB stick also known as a dongle, which is plugged into the laptop or computer. The dongle picks up the signal from the mobile phone companies and also installs the software required, allowing virtually instant access to the internet as soon as it is plugged in.

Who Uses Mobile Broadband?

The most obvious answer to that is mobile broadband is suitable for anyone who wishes to stay connected to the internet no matter where they are, rather than be limited by a fixed line. Alternatively it is ideal for people who live in areas not served by a fixed line internet service provider.

This has meant that the two biggest user groups that have emerged are business users and students, groups which place high value on mobile internet access. Another group of people for which it is extremely suitable are those who live in short term rental accommodation, since it does with the requirement for having a fixed line telephone.

Mobile broadband is increasingly be used as a backup internet connection, in the event that the regular fixed line internet connection fails.

Suppliers

There are only six mobile broadband providers currently operating in the UK:

  • O2
  • Orange
  • T-Mobile
  • 3
  • Virgin
  • Vodafone

Coverage

The coverage provided by mobile broadband in the UK is outstanding, with 99 per cent of the country covered by a network. It should be noted that connection speeds tend to depend on the quality of reception, and in general the better reception and speeds are available in cities and towns.

Connection Devices

The most common connection device is the dongle, which is a small USB device that plugs into the USB socket of the computer. They are extremely small, and very portable, and some have even begun to use them as a fashion accessory. The other alternative is a USB modem, which is similar to a dongle and works in much the same way.  The other less-common alternative is a mobile data card, which can only be used with laptops with ‘plug and go’ software.

Data Allowances

Mobile internet service providers usually provide data transfer limits, that is to say there is only a certain amount of data that can be downloaded as part of the monthly subscription bill. Every time you browse the internet, send emails, stream a You Tube video, you are using part of your monthly allowance. If you exceed the allowance it won’t mean that you are cut off from the internet, but the mobile phone company levies data charges which are quite steep per unit of data (most commonly measure in megabytes).

The data transfer limits are in place to prevent people taking advantage of the networks and overcrowding them, which would affect performance levels.

The data transfer limits usually range from between 1GB to 15GB, with 1GB allowing about 30 hours of surfing, and 15GB allowing 150 hours of surfing.

Some plans offer unlimited data transfer, but those plans are usually accompanied by fair usage policy, which means if you hog the bandwidth, downloading tons of movies for example, the mobile phone provide will begin to choke the speed you can obtain from the service, dramatically slowing it down.

Some plans are Pay As You Go, and as is the case with mobile phone services, once you have used the data transfer that you have paid for, you will no longer be able to access the internet.

In each case, you will be able to check how much of your allowance you have used up online, and some companies even send you text messages when you reach certain milestones.

Using Mobile Broadband Abroad

Generally if your mobile phone company offers roaming, then in theory you should be able to access the internet abroad. However roaming is expensive, even for just mobile phones, and can cost anywhere between £3.00 per MB in the EU going up to £8 per MB outside the EU. That means if you go just 1 GB over your limit, you will find yourself with a bill of £8,000. So do be careful.

Please Note - All Prices Quoted Are Correct at Time of Posting

Download Limits Explained

March 24, 2010 · Filed Under Broadband, Guides, Mobile Broadband · Comment 

In the UK most broadband packages offer unlimited data transfer. However some internet service providers offer packages which have data transfer or download limits.

Why on earth would anyone opt for limited data transfer packages? Well for a start some ISP’s offer faster internet speeds for to customers on limited packages, and another reason is a lot of times they are cheaper than unlimited packages, even though they offer similar speeds.

If you are considering opting for a limited data transfer package, then it is imperative you understand which download limit is best suited for your requirement.

What is a download limit?

A download limit is the amount of data you can download from the internet as part of your monthly subscription fee. Users who exceed their download limit, will still be able to use the internet but will be charged per unit of data downloaded in excess of their download limit (usually measured in megabytes). The excess usage charges tend to be quite expensive. If you exceed your download limit regularly it will most certainly cost a packet.

Data transfer or download limits tend to be expressed in gigabytes a month. ISP’s tend to set limits of the number of gigabytes one can download every month, and can range from as low as 1GB a month to of course unlimited.

Finding the download limit to suit you

Clearly since excess usage charges are exorbitant and you do decide on a limited data transfer plan then choosing a plan with a suitable download limit is critical. Your requirement will largely depend on the amount of time you spend on the internet and the type of downloading you engage in.

Some internet service providers of hybrid plans, which offer unlimited downloads during non peak hours (night time and weekends), whilst limiting the data transfer during peak hours.

If you spend a lot of time on the internet or like to download media like music or video or stream video from You Tube, then it is extremely likely you need a plan with large limits.

The Download Limits

  • 1GB

A limit of this size is generally very inexpensive, but is not suitable for the vast majority of users. This kind of plan suits those who use the internet infrequently. A limit of this size will enable the user to view 10,500 web pages or download no more than 20 music albums. Streaming video on this time of plan would not be advisable

  • 2 GB

A download limit of this size is best suited for those who only use the internet to view websites, and do not engage in downloading media files. A 2GB limit will give a user the ability to view 21,000 web pages and download 40 albums.

  • 15 GB

For the vast majority of internet users a limit of this size is the most suitable. A 15GB limit will let users view as many pages as they like and still have room left to download media files. Approximately 157,000 web pages can be viewed, and 300 music albums can be downloaded with a limit of this size.

  • 30 GB

A 30GB limit is roughly the equivalent of 1GB a day, which very few people actually manage. A limit of this size is best suited for someone who plays online games, streams a lot of video, or downloads media files. You could comfortably view 314,500 web pages, and download 600 music albums with a limit of this size.

  • Unlimited

Opting for an unlimited plan is clearly the easiest way to not have to worry about whether you exceed your download limit and in the UK many ISP’s offer unlimited plans at almost a negligibly higher cost than 15GB or 30GB plans.

Please Note - All Prices Quoted Are Correct at Time of Posting

What Are The Benefits Of Broadband Internet Connections?

March 23, 2010 · Filed Under Broadband, Guides · Comment 

OK so the internet has changed the world the media keeps telling us, but so far you have managed to do quite well without a broadband connection thank you very much and managed very well with a dial up. If you are thinking about stumping up for a broadband connection and want to know what the benefits of a broadband connection are, so here is a list.

1.Fast speeds- broadband connections are much faster than an ordinary dial up connection, and even a relatively slow broadband connection of 1Mbps is 20 times faster than a dial up connection.

2.Large data transfer volumes- Faster internet speeds means that ever larger volumes of data can be sent and received by your computer at a quicker rate.

3. The Internet is always on- Traditional dial up connections require logging in, and actually dialling into the internet whenever you want to use the internet. Broadband removes the need to do that and can be left perpetually on, which means whenever you go to your computer, you have immediate access to the internet.

4. The telephone line is unaffected- With traditional dial up connections, when you are using the internet, the phone line is tied up, meaning you cannot use the internet and make a telephone call at the same time. Broadband connections allow you to use the internet and still have a free telephone line, meaning you can surf the web, whilst making a call.

5. No surprise charges- Internet service providers (at least in the UK) tend to charge flat monthly fees (depending on the package you opt for). This means you can choose a package which gives you unlimited internet access and have complete certainty about the cost, there will be no extra surprise charges for time spent using the internet.

6. Download websites almost instantly- Websites appear almost instantaneously, no time delays or waiting for pages to load, even for sites that use the most complex graphics.

7. Download music and videos- Instead of having to go shop at the store for music and video, you can download most content legally from the comfort of your own home.

8. Interact with others in real time- Broadband internet allows instant communication with others even in far flung places around the world, for free through instant messaging, or low cost internet telephony

9. Free phone calls, You can make free phone calls to other online users using services such as Skype.

Please Note - All Prices Quoted Are Correct at Time of Posting

What Is Broadband?

March 22, 2010 · Filed Under Broadband, Guides · Comment 

Broadband is most typically defined as a high speed internet connection, which allows large amounts of data to be transferred very quickly.

Broadband is faster and easier to use than older modes of connecting to the internet, which was over telephone lines, and using a modem to dial up.

Broadband can either be provided using your phone line, using cable, fibre optic, satellite and these days wireless broadband through 3G by mobile phone companies is becoming increasingly popular.

One critical difference between broadband and the older dial up technology is that broadband connections allow you to use the internet without tying up your phone lines. That is to say you can surf the internet whilst making calls from your phone at the same time.

Another broadly used definition is that broadband is meant to operate as always being on, like an electricity connection, when you want to use it, you simply plug your device into the network. There is no requirement to dial into the internet.

Broadband, therefore, has many features that can be taken advantage of in the home or office:

  • In Britain, broadband customers pay a standard monthly fee for internet access, which usually gives the customer unlimited access to the internet. The customer is not charged for time spent on the internet, though there is a growing trend for pay as you go internet access plans, particularly in the mobile broadband space.
  • Broadband allows websites, music and video to be downloaded at a much faster rate than the older dial up connections.
  • Broadband allows users to take advantage of instant messaging and play multi-player online games.
  • Broadband lets customers stream internet radio and video, as well as make very low cost internet based telephone calls known as voice over internet protocol (VOIP).

Broadband essentially allows for high speed internet access, and a fast connection makes the user experience more satisfying and for business users, helps their business run more efficiently.

The advent of broadband now means that working from home is actually a viable option.

Please Note - All Prices Quoted Are Correct at Time of Posting

What Internet Speed Do You Need?

March 4, 2010 · Filed Under Broadband, Guides · Comment 

You may have the fastest internet connection in the world, but you should also be aware of what your download limit is. Now in some countries, this is explicit. That is to say that when you sign up for internet services, the ISP will give you a data transfer allowance.

That means that only a certain amount of data can be downloaded for the monthly fee you pay to your ISP, beyond that, the ISP will charge for every megabyte downloaded..

In the UK Fixed line ISP’s generally have no explicit data transfer limits, but do monitor usage, and for those who download a lot of data or are hogging bandwidth, their speeds tend to get choked by the ISP. If you are accessing the internet from a mobile device, then it is more than likely that your provider will have some data transfer limits.

So what speed do you need? well that really depends on the kind of internet usage you expect to engage in, below is a rough guide to speeds and what certain speeds would be most suitable for.

512 kbit/s

Most ISP’s will have a 512 kilobit per second service. This may be fairly slow, and some people may wonder what is the point. If you rarely use the internet and just check emails occasionally, then this type of connection is more than adequate.

If you want to do more than that, for example listen to music or watch video, you will need a faster connection.

More importantly it is really cheap, and I personally have a spare 512 kilobit per second connection from another ISP as backup,  just in case my main internet connection ever goes down (which happens more often than I would like unfortunately)

One to Two Megabits/s

This speed is common in many homes and small businesses; however the average speed of connection to the internet is getting faster by the day.

An internet connection of this speed is pretty much good enough to do most things on the internet, from just general surfing, to posting on Facebook, reading the news, and streaming music or video.

At its fastest it takes about 40 seconds to download a 5 minute long song.

Eight to Twenty Four Megabit/s +

Many would argue that a lightning fast connection will mean that loading web pages, even the most content heavy ones will be instantaneous, as will downloading audio and video.

The truth is and I speak from experience, you cannot really tell there is that much difference between a one or 2 Mbps connection, because no matter how fast you can download, you are still at the mercy of the speed of the source that you are downloading from.

If for example you download a video from a site, that only uploads a single file at 2 Mbps, then that is the fastest download you are going to get for that file, no matter how fast your internet connection is.

To make full use of your bandwidth you will need to download multiple files, and only then will you utilize the speeds you have available.

So if you are doing a ton of file sharing, are heavy on the game play, or heaven forbid, download torrents, this is the type of connection for you.

Please Note - All Prices Quoted Are Correct at Time of Posting

Broadband Glossary

March 4, 2010 · Filed Under Broadband, Guides · Comment 

3G – Third Generation: wireless mobile services and applications offering users very fast access to the internet either through their mobile phone or through their computer wirelessly.

ADSL – Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line: DSL service with a larger portion of the capacity devoted to downstream communications, less to upstream. Typically thought of as a residential service using copper cables to deliver the internet to the premises.

Bandwidth – The amount of data transmitted in a given amount of time; usually measured in bits per second, kilobits per second, and megabits per second.

Bit – A single unit of data, either a one or a zero. In the world of broadband, bits are used to refer to the amount of transmitted data. A kilobit (Kb) is approximately 1,000 bits. A megabit (Mb) is approximately 1,000,000 bits.

BPL – Broadband Over Powerline: A technology that allows broadband services to be delivered using existing electrical power supply lines and is now being rolled out in the developing world.

Broadband – A descriptive term for digital technologies that provides consumers with integrated access to voice, high-speed data service, video-demand services, and interactive delivery services

Coaxial Cable – A type of cable that can carry large amounts of data over very long distances. Cable TV and cable modem service both utilize this technology.

Dial-Up – A technology that provides customers with access to the Internet over an existing telephone line.

Downstream or Download – Data that flows from the Internet to the computer e.g. when a user surfs the internet, checks E-mail, that type of dataflow is downstream and the user is downloading.

DSL – Digital Subscriber Line: The use of a copper telephone line to deliver “always on” broadband Internet service.

FTTN – Fiber To The Neighborhood: A hybrid network architecture involving optical fiber from the carrier network, terminating in a neighborhood cabinet with converts the signal from optical to electrical.

FTTP – Fiber To The Premise (Or FTTB – Fiber To The Building): A fiber optic system that connects directly from the carrier network to the user premises.

GSM – Global System for Mobile Communications: This is the current radio/telephone standard in Europe and many other countries except Japan and the United States.

IP-VPN – Internet Protocol -Virtual Private Network: A software-defined network offering the appearance, functionality and usefulness of a dedicated private network

ISDN – Integrated Services Digital Network: An alternative method to simultaneously carry voice, data and other traffic, using the switched telephone network.

ISP – Internet Service Provider: A company providing Internet access to consumers and businesses, acting as a bridge between customer (end-user) and infrastructure owners for dial-up, cable modem and DSL services.

Kbps – Kilobits per second: 1,000 bits per second. A measure of how fast data can be transmitted.

LAN – Local Area Network: A geographically localized network consisting of both hardware and software. The network can link workstations within a building or multiple computers with a single wireless Internet connection.

Mbps – Megabits per second: 1,000,000 bits per second. A measure of how fast data can be transmitted.

Streaming – Streaming video is content sent in compressed form over the Internet and displayed by the viewer in real time. With streaming video or streaming media, a Web user does not have to wait to download a file to play it. Instead, the media is sent in a continuous stream of data and is played as it arrives.

Upstream or Upload – Data flowing from your computer to the Internet (sending E-mail, uploading a file).

Video On Demand – A service that allows users to remotely choose a movie from a digital library and be able to pause, fast-forward, or even rewind their selection.

Majority source: California Public Utilities Commission

Please Note - All Prices Quoted Are Correct at Time of Posting

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