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By What is Broadband?
Bill Williams

Edit MessageUploaded - 19 Jan 2004 15:50


There are two main kinds of Broadband connection in the UK
(a) ADSL
(b) On the same Cable that you get CableTV etc

Broadband provides a connection to the Internet that is at least 10 times as fast as a 56Kbps modem and yet can be always-on without preventing the normal use of a phone line for voice calls or fax.

ADSL is done by superimposing a signal on top of a normal BT phone line; after suitable filters are installed in your home the ADSL signal has no significant effect on the use of the phone for voice calls or fax, incoming or outgoing.

The normal range of ADSL is about 7 kilometres of wire from the exchange to you and it can normally handle 2,000Kbps (2Mbps) at that range. The usual domestic speed is 512Kbps (576Kilo Bits/Sec) and is normally easily available at up to 7 kilometres. BT have been testing Adaptive ADSL for ranges greater than 7 kilometres or for poor quality lines. These will automatically slow down the line for poor conditions.

I don't know the normal range for Cable broadband, but it is much more than you imply and the top speed of Cable broadband is much higher. In fact the cable modem that they fit in your house throttles down the bandwidth to whatever rate you are paying for. [People have been prosecuted for fiddling with the cable modem to make it go faster].

Cable broadband is only available if you are in a cable TV area AND that area is also rated for broadband. You buy the service from your cableTV company: NTL or Telewest.

ADSL is marketed in a weird way. You buy the service from one of very many Internet Service Provider (ISP), then they in turn buy the service 'wholesale' from a part of BT called BT Wholesale. This was done as a restriction on BT by Oftel to prevent them becoming a monopoly. BT have got around this restriction, they created a sub-company called BT OpenWorld which is an ISP (currently being renamed BT Yahoo). BT Yahoo buys its ADSL services from BT Wholesale, just like other ISPs. [Link]

BT also market as "BT Broadband" which is a sort of an ISP but it only does ADSL connectivity, it does NOT do mailboxes or virus removal or web space etc. BT Broadband service is intended only for specialist users. However BT Openworld and BT Broadband are heavily advertised on TV, so much so that almost all the public are totally confused into thinking that they can only get ADSL directly from BT. However in my opinion it is NOT a good idea to get broadband from them. It is fine while it works, but when you get a fault, you are likely to go round & round in circles with their Support Services.

If you want ADSL in the UK, I recommend that you either get it from my friends Wizards Ltd [Link] or from Zen [Link]. Mine is with Zen, because Wizards had not started doing ADSL when I got mine. Zen also host this website for me.


PS: BT Wholesale used to be called BT Ignite.
The quango Oftel has been renamed Ofcom.


Revised on 19 Jan 2004

Bill Williams

Edit MessageUploaded - 19 Jan 2004 15:54

What use is Broadband.

The essence of having a broadband connection, is not so much that it is faster, more that it is always on and available. This means that you come to use it in a different way than dial-up internet. It becomes your library, your streetmaps, your telephone directory etc etc Link. Furthermore you can set your email program to automatically fetch your email every 30 mins or so, such that email no longer becomes a poste-restante service, but a delivered-to-your-door service instead.

I also use Digiguide Link so that I no longer buy the Radio Times or TV times etc and my computer actually speaks to me to remind me that such&such a TV program is about to start.

And of course you can set your computer to fetch anti-virus information and update your anti-virus software overnight while you sleep and also if you use Windows you can set it to fetch the patches (corrections) from Microsoft every night so that your computer is safer against hackers and Viruses.

Which brings me to my last point, If you have a broadband connection, it is essential that you run good antivirus program such as AVG [Link] to remove viruses and a firewall to stop hackers & worm-viruses from using your computer. If you have Windows-XP it has a built-in Firewall adequate for ordinary users, for earlier Windows 2000 or Windows98 or WindowsMe you can install Kerio Personal Firewall. [Link] and [Link].I gave brief instructions for Kerio on another topic here [Link].


The speed of the final link is (almost certainly) at least 10 times as fast as a former modem connection, but you may find that web servers in particular are not 10 times as fast as you imagined they might be.

Your speed may also be limited if the ISP that provides your broadband connection, does not itself have a wide enough connection to the rest of the Internet. [Link]

The broadband speed advantage really shows up when downloading a big file.


Revised on 21 Sep 2006

Bill Williams

Edit MessageUploaded - 19 Jan 2004 16:04

More Information

The following website has a wealth of information about Broadband, but does get a bit technical in some places. [Link]

It has discussion forums, wery similar in structure to this one. They start at: [Link]


Revised on 19 Jan 2004

Bill Williams

Edit MessageUploaded - 14 Jan 2005 14:31

Nowadays BT Ignite is known as BT Wholesale.

Reminder: avoid getting broadband from 'BT Broadband', though it is heavily advertised, it is a bare-bones service not ideally suitable for non-expert computer users.


Revised on 14 Jan 2005

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