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Internet Jargon And Connections Explained

internet jargon and connections explained

Working out all the jargon when choosing a new internet provider can be confusing. Let us break it down for you, so you know what you are signing up to. 

What is Bandwidth?

Bandwidth is essentially the maximum amount of data transmitted over an internet connection at any one time. This isn’t to be confused with speeds however -  think quantity instead. In short, the higher bandwidth you have the more devices you can have online at the same time. 

What is Broadband?

Broadband is essentially an interchangeable word for internet these days as it is the standard form of internet connection available to most of us. It comes in a variety of forms and speeds which will depend on where you live and your personal preference. 

What are Download Limits?

Unless you have unlimited broadband (see below) you will have an allowance, or limit, of data you can download, i.e. how much internet you can use each month. This can be as low as 10GB and will depend on the package you have opted for. To help understand this limit further, please see the table for a rough usage guide. 

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ActivityData usage
1hr of web browsing10-25MB 
1hr video call350MB
1hr of BBC iPlayer 150MB
1hr of Netflix in HD3GB
(There are 1,000 MB in 1GB)

What is a Modem?

Your modem is a box that connects your home to the Internet, in most cases these days, your modem is a router (see below).

What is an ISP?

ISP stands for Internet Service Provider and refers to companies that provide broadband services.

What is meant by Internet speeds?

Internet speeds essentially mean how much data can be transferred to your computer every second which is usually measured in Megabits per second (Mbps).  With an average web page being 1.6 Megabits, and the average internet speed in the UK being 71.8Mbps, most of the internet can be loaded in a fraction of a second. 

Download speed, indicates how quickly you can download information and is indicated in Megabits per seconds.

Another measure of internet speed is your upload-speed which is the speed you transfer data back to the internet, like publishing photos online or sharing video during an online call. These tend to be roughly 1/10th of your download speed. According to OFCOM (the UK regulator of the communications sector), the average upload speed is 14.2Mbps. 

Types of connections

  • ADSL

…stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line and is the most commonly available type of broadband in the UK. It is delivered through the copper wires of your phone line and has a maximum speed of 24Mbps. However, the speeds depend on how far you live from your telephone exchange - the further away you are, the slower the speeds are. 

  • Cable

This network uses fibre optic and coaxial cables to deliver superfast broadband. This is the quickest available to most of the UK with speeds up to 150Mbps. 

  • Fibre

Fibre broadband is delivered via clusters of fibre optic cables which are thinner than a strand of hair. There are two types of fibre broadband - ‘fibre-to-the-cabinet' (FTTC) and ‘fibre-to-the-premises' (FTTP).

With fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), the cables run from the telephone exchange to street cabinets before using standard copper telephone wires to connect to homes. These types of fibres have speeds of up to 80Mbps. 

Fibre-to-the-premises broadband means you have an optic cable directly to your property. This is incredibly quick, with speeds up to 1,000Mbps. At the moment this is only available to around 10% of the country.  

If you are not sure which type of connection you have, you could always ask your current provider for more information.

If you want to find out more about different types of connections, check OFCOM'S explanation.

Router

Just like a modem, a router is a box that connects your home to the Internet. The difference being in the case of a router, it projects a signal so you are able to do this wirelessly. 

Unlimited Broadband

Unlimited broadband refers to a contract that doesn’t have a data usage limit. Thus, there isn’t any restrictions in your contract to the amount of data you can download, i.e. how much internet you can use each month. 

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