There are many differences between broadband and dial-up connections, but one of the most important things that the average user will immediately notice is speed. When we talk about internet speeds, we generally mean the speed at which you need to “get things done” on the web. At the most basic level, we talked about how fast web pages load on your computer and how fast you can download files. As the use of the Internet becomes more common and broadband takes over dial-up in terms of popular usage, in music and movie downloads, use of video sites such as YouTube, and conversations with friends via webcams. Speed becomes more and more important.
In most cases, dial-up connections are only useful for very light network access. It’s not unreasonable that people who just use the web to check email or read news for a few minutes a day don’t really need broadband, but for most of us it’s not. With dial-up, a 3-minute song can take 8-20 minutes. Even with the slowest minimum bandwidth in the UK, that time is reduced to about a minute. With the fastest unifi speed test, you can download a song or an entire album in seconds. Even for those who don’t download using the Internet, everyday things like web images and email attachments work much faster.
Dial-up can be thought of as a bike-it’s slow and generally everyone goes at the same speed. Broadband is like a car and has a variety of options. In general, the more you spend, the faster you go.
Meaning of numbers
The numbers advertised by most ISPs can be complicated. They use a system based on the number of “megabits” per second. This is the speed at which you can download the full connection. This is confusing because we are measuring the actual file size in “megabytes”. This is a completely different system with the exact same name. The three-minute song weighs about 4 megabytes on a PC, but with an ISP system it’s actually about 32 megabits.
Messed up? We do not blame you. It’s often easier for new users to think from a dial-up perspective. 1 megabit is about 20 times faster than dial-up. 2Mbit is twice as fast. Most providers advertise at speeds up to 8 Mbit. This is fast enough for most Internet users today.
What ISPS means when they say “maximum” 8Mbit
Your ISP will always promote the highest speed possible. This means that if your telephone line is available, we guarantee that you will be providing the Internet at that speed. However, few people in the UK can reach these speeds over regular telephone lines.
Most ISPs can perform a “speed test” on the line if they already have a phone number. If not, there is a BT website that gives a good indication of the speed at which you may get it. UK telephone lines tend to be quite old and have never been originally designed for broadband. Your speed depends on the quality of your line, the age of your line, and most importantly the distance between your home and your local switchboard.
You don’t always have to choose the fastest service from your ISP because many depend on your phone line-what’s the point of paying 8 megabits if you can only receive 2 megabits? Many ISPs offer discounted rates for slower packages. These days, even rural areas can get speeds of 4-6 megabits, but it’s worth seeing what you can do at home before signing a broadband contract.