Broadband is a high-speed internet connection that allows you to surf the internet at top speeds. It is one of the most popular choices of internet connection as it’s extremely quick and enables us to make the most of the internet. The most common internet mediums include copper phone lines and optical fibre. In technical terms, broadband is a wide bandwidth data transmission where all sorts of traffic and signals are transported and interchanged, providing top speeds at the click of a mouse.
Before broadband was around, the internet was only accessible through several dial-up connections. Dial-up is the only non-broadband service available for the internet, but it’s very slow by today’s standards and is generally no longer a popular option.
In fact, fixed broadband is the most popular type of household internet connection in the UK, with 98% of households using this type of connection in 2019.
A Broadband internet service is supplied by an internet service provider (ISP). The service provider supplies the service, the router and if required, arranges for the socket to be installed.
Some ISPs have their own internet infrastructure e.g Sky and Talktalk, however, this is costly and complex, that’s why the majority of ISPs use shareable networks to provide their service, including The Phone Co-op.
What is ADSL broadband?
ADSL is a service that is provided using existing BT phone lines. ADSL stands for ‘Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line’ and it is the most popular type of connection that is widely used across the UK. ADSL broadband works through a fixed-line access network, otherwise known as telephone lines in the street. These are made up of copper wires and exchange a series of digital messages which translates the information you receive. These messages are split into either phone or internet signals using a microfilter, which is a small box that fits into the main BT socket in your home.
ADSL is not as fast as fibre, but it is still a reliable choice. The speed you receive depends on your distance from the telephone exchange, so those who live closer will likely get a faster connection. The age and health of the copper wires providing your connection can also play a part in connection speed.
What is cable broadband?
Cable broadband is a form of internet access which uses the same infrastructure as cable television. Cable uses mostly fibre-optic cables to pass digital signals, unlike an ADSL connection which only uses copper wires. The fibre optical material in the wires provides a secure connection for the signal to travel, resulting in a much more reliable signal and less chance of distortion than ADSL. However, cable is not the same as fibre optic. For the last mile between your local telephone exchange and your home, the cable connection is carried in coaxial cable while fibre optic travels through copper wires. Coaxial cable can carry data faster than copper phone lines, making cable packages generally faster than other options.
A cable connection can also carry audiovisual signals, which is why you can get digital TV services from some cable providers.
What is fibre broadband?
Fibre broadband is a high-speed internet connection that uses fibre optic cables. These cables are quicker at transferring data than standard copper cables used in ADSL; meaning it’s a great choice if you regularly enjoy streaming films and music.
There are two types of fibre broadband connection: FTTC and FTTP.
What is FTTC fibre broadband?
FTTP Fibre is an ultrafast connection. It stands for Fibre To The Premises, meaning fibre optic cables run all the way into your home delivering a fast connection with minimal chance of disruption. It can also be known as FTTH (Fibre To The Home) or Superfast Plus. As the name suggests, ultrafast broadband gives you an extremely quick and reliable service but it is not currently available everywhere in the UK, so it’s worth checking if you are eligible for it.
As of 2019, 93% of homes in Great Britain have internet access of at least 2mbps, but most homes can get much higher speeds than this. If you’re not sure what speeds are available in your area, you can easily check here.
You can check what is available in your area with our broadband checker. Just by entering your postcode and landline number, we can tell you what options are available to you.
We only use this information to check where your nearest telephone exchange is located, as this determines what services you could expect. In some cases you might live too far away from your telephone exchange for certain types of services, this distance can also affect the speeds you could receive.