There are many confusing terms used when talking about Broadband so this is a breakdown of the key jargon to help understand what the technology is all about.
If you’ve been using the internet for a long time, you may remember dial-up, when going online meant your landline was engaged. This was surpassed by ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line), which is broadband carried on a telephone line alongside voice calls. Faster than dial-up, with speeds of up to 24Mbps, consumers could get online and use their landline at the same time.
The ‘asymmetric’ part of the name refers to how downloads are prioritised compared to uploads; downloads are always faster, mainly because providers felt that customers were more likely to draw down content from the internet than upload new material to it. This is also usually the case with fibre too. ADSL is widely available throughout the UK.
- Fibre Optics / Optical Fibre
Fibre optic broadband is named after the cables (glass or plastic) on which the data is carried. Unlike the copper wires used by ADSL connections, data carried on fibre broadband does not slow down as noticeably over long distances. Fibre optics use light to transfer data down the cable at extremely high speeds. These cables are made up of individual fibres the thickness of a human hair.
There are two main types of fibre connections commonly found in the UK:
FTTC: Standing for ‘Fibre To The Cabinet’, the superfast cables run from your local exchange to your nearest telecoms cabinet. The final leg of the journey from that green box to your home is handled by the existing copper cables, most of which are many years old. Because the fibre does not reach the premises the maximum possible download speed is around 80Mbps with upload speeds of up to 20Mbps. Also, when the distance from the local cabinet exceeds 1.2km (approximately) the amount of copper line in use means that superfast speeds are no longer available.
FTTP: ‘Fibre To The Premises’ brings fibre an extra step closer and instead of fibre optic cables ending at the cabinet, they reach right up to a property.
FTTP sees fibre cables running all the way from the local exchange directly to your router. By bypassing the copper network your signal is not slowed down. FTTP usually allows download speeds up to 330Mbps and upload speeds of up to 50Mpbs. The very fastest connections using fibre can reach 1000Mbps (known as Gigabit broadband) although these speeds are not possible in all circumstances and a suitable package would be dependent on your ISP (Internet Service Provider).
- Fixed Wireless Broadband
Part of our newest contract is the roll-out of fixed wireless solutions for customers that want superfast broadband but other methods are uneconomically viable. This is usually due to the location or geography of the area. A radio signal is broadcast from a local mast and picked up by a small receiver in a fixed location on the property and this then provides the superfast broadband service. Note that you must be within range and have a line of sight with the transmission source to get a connection.
- Mobile broadband
With good signal coverage across much of West Yorkshire (particularly in our towns and cities), optimum speeds in excess of 100Mbps for 5G, plus the flexibility of taking your connection with you when you leave home, mobile technology has advanced greatly in the last decade.
By getting a SIM for your phone or tablet, a dongle for your laptop or desktop PC, or one of a range of mobile Wi-Fi hotspot devices, you can get online at home or on the move. It should be noted that you are more likely to encounter data limits on mobile broadband, making it potentially unsuitable or expensive as a substitute for fixed broadband. Also be aware that the SFWY&Y programme does not currently include any mobile broadband projects.
- Internet Service Providers
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are the companies and organisations that actually provide your internet connection and is a highly competitive market. The Superfast West Yorkshire and York programme is helping to build the infrastructure which is open access, i.e. not limited to one specific provider. It is the ISPs that deliver the actual end service to customers via a contract with them. There are many different packages out there from a vast choice of ISPs that will allow you to enjoy the benefits of superfast broadband.