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Which internet connection is most suitable for me?

Since the introduction of mobile broadband many people are unsure if it is a reliable and worthwhile service. Even when there were just the two types of home broadband connection, cable and ADSL, many people didn’t know exactly what the differences are.

In this article I intend to layout exactly what each type of service is and which type is best suited to which activities.

Mobile Broadband

Mobile broadband is the latest technology and has a large amount of problems in certain areas.  Mobile broadband can be good for someone who is on the move and needs to connect all over the country.  Using mobile broadband as your main connection can be problematic though. You need to be in an area with very good signal, and also take into account the impact of a lot of people connecting at any one time.

All mobile broadband providers offer online checkers, but you must note these are not the same as mobile phone checkers. Mobile broadband requires faster connections and not all mobile phone masts are capable of handling mobile broadband. Also remember that each mast has a limited amount of space for people to connect.

The best way to think of mobile broadband is like a cake; the more people that want a piece of the cake, the less everyone else gets.  Eventually if you get enough people wanting the cake you end up with crumbs. This is the main downfall of mobile broadband.

Mobile broadband is a great invention if you travel a lot, but is not really a cost effective solution if you want to do a lot of downloading.  Not to mention a time efficient solution how time consuming it can be, due to the instability of the connections.  The bottom line is if you want to have a good internet experience at home, without the problems of low usage limits or fluctuating speed, it’s best to avoid mobile broadband.

Home Broadband

Home broadband has two flavours these days. Firstly we have cable, which has been around for over a decade. Secondly we have ADSL which has been around approximately eight years. There are various technological differences which I won’t go into as they not only get far too complex but also far too boring. Below you can find all the important information to be considered when deciding which to choose.

The best internet connection you’re going to get will be cable hands down. The only problem with this is that cable is not available in all areas. Cable runs down fibre optic lines that were laid years ago by certain cable companies.

Due to various reasons those companies were sold off, so now the only cable provider in the country is Virgin Media. Currently Virgin Media have the fastest internet connection possible which is 50mb. You do not need a BT phone line for cable as it uses separate lines, and you also get a wireless router when you sign up. This means you can automatically connect up any laptops, mobile phones or games consoles effortlessly without having to buy extra hardware.

ADSL on the other hand requires a phone line in your house. This can be provided by BT but as well as some other ADSL companies; be sure to enquire if you go with ADSL.

Unlike cable’s guaranteed line speed you will be quoted ‘up to’ 8mb or 20mb depending on the provider. The actual figure you get is dependent on many factors, ranging from the quality of the wiring in your house to the distance you are from the exchange.  Cable is the only internet service where you are guaranteed your internet speed.

Additionally, not all ADSL providers give you a router when you sign up. Some providers just give you an ADSL modem which can connect up to one computer but doesn’t provide any wireless access. If you want wireless access in these circumstances you’ll need to buy an ADSL router and either set it up yourself or pay someone else too. However, BT offers a homehub with every subscription which has wireless capabilities built in.

It’s worth bearing in mind that if you sign up for ADSL you’ll want to check if they will provide you with a wireless router, and whether it will cost extra. BT’s homehub also provides you with the greatest wireless access currently available, wireless N technology. This means their service is especially cost-efficient; you get the best broadcasting type of router free of charge. Of course, depending on your needs, their subscription may not turn out to be cost efficient per month.

If you would like wireless access on your desktop PC you will also need to buy a wireless adapter. Desktop PC’s do not come with wireless networking as standard, so you will need to buy an adapter to connect your wireless router with your computer. Alternatively, you can buy power line adaptors instead of a wireless one. These clever devices plug into any electrical socket in your home and use the wiring of the house to connect to the network.

You plug an Ethernet cable from the router into the adapter on one end, and the other end an Ethernet cable between the adapter and the computer. This rules out any interference problems which some devices such as TV Senders are known to experience when trying to create a wireless network.

The final thing to take into account when getting yourself an internet connection is what you want to use it for. Most providers offer anything from a 10gb limit up to unlimited. Below is a general guide for what kind of usage limit is best for what person:

Usage Limit Activities Covered
1-10gb General surfing, the odd download of a song or a movie, music and software downloads, some streaming of movies or music, light console gaming.
10gb-20gb Daily usage, regular movie, music and software downloads, occasional streaming, occasional console gaming
20gb-40gb Lots of browsing, regular downloading of movies, software and music.  Regular streaming and console gaming.
Unlimited Leaving your internet on all the time, regularly queuing up lots of downloads, daily console gaming, regular streaming.

Conclusion

So that sums up all the broadband types and packages available today. The type of broadband that suits you is dependent on a lot of factors which you can probably see.  The thing to remember is not to rush into anything as you will often end up in a twelve month contract, unless you are on mobile broadband pay as you go.

If you aren’t sure what you are going to use it for you need to also bear in mind that if you go over your usage allowance, your provider will often charge you for every extra gigabyte you use.

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