UK Fixed Broadband - What You Need to Know.
Fibre optic? wireless? satellite?
Whether you need Fixed Broadband at Home or in the Office, here are some important facts you should know.
What is Fixed Broadband?
Fixed Broadband simply means High-speed data transmission to homes and businesses using either fixed wire technologies such as T1, cable, DSL and FiOS or Wireless or Satellite technologies.
Traditionally, Fixed Broadband used to mean that the data travelled down wires or cable. The ground-based copper wires used to provide one of the most popular home broadband services – ADSL – and Businesses using ISDN 30 and Leased Lines are examples. Both Digital Services are still provided over old copper wires on the telephone cable network originally belonging to British Telecom although more and more “locations” are covered by new and independent Fibre Optic cabling businesses.
Fixed Broadband is not only delivered over a physical cable network, but refers to the fact that hardware is needed at the location to complete the network (for example “fixed” items like Routers or Modems). So the term now includes Wireless Broadband and Satellite Broadband, where the service is provided to a fixed location.
This distnguishes it from Mobile Broadband, where a handset or tablet or other mobile device can be moved to different locations without the need for additional hardware.
Broadband is either symetric or asymetric (relating to the ratio between download and upload speeds). Most services are asymetric, where the download speed is faster than any data upload. Data hungry businesses using modern cloud based programmes will require superfast broadband. Probably the most important Broadband measurement is the data upload and download speeds obtainable, which in turn normally depend on whether your are sharing your Broadband Service with other customers – this is known as Contended bandwidth.
What are the Types of Fixed Broadband?
Wired or Cable or Fibre Optic Broadband
Older networks in the UK are copper wire, supplying tradiitonal phone services, and many were later upgraded to provide Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL) for telephone services and Broadband.
Optical fibres are the new way to carry data or information. They are thin, flexible, hair-sized fibres that transmit data in the form of light signals. They can be bundled together, often encased in cable similar to an ordinary computer cable, and can transmit data millions of times faster and more reliably than the oldstyle metal or copper wires.
A fibre optic connection works by sending pulses of light down a fibre optic cable. When data is sent down a fibre optic cable, the equipment at either end is on the lookout for whether the light is on or off – representing the binary “1”s and “0”s of digital data. Equipment at one end will turn lights on and off to represent “1”s and “0”s, and the equipment at the other recognises this, records it and stores it back as “1”s and “0”s.
Fibre Optic Cables can be single mode or multi mode depending upon the Home or Business requirement and the ISP capacity. Apart from the huge speed advantage, fibre optic cable has improved resistance to electromagnetic “noise” from any nearby cabling, thus improving the accuracy of transmitted data.
“The point-to-point transmission over the air between stationary devices.”
Fixed wireless is typically used for “last mile” connectivity to buildings, and it implies high-speed (broadband) transmission.
A Wireless ISP is an Internet service provider (ISP) that transmits wireless. Using WiMAX and other radio technologies, WISPs generally provide “last mile” connectivity directly to homes and businesses where DSL and cable services are not available.
“Fixed wireless WISPs” mount antennas on tall buildings with line of sight to their customers or to other antennas that relay the signals around obstacles. WISPs started out in rural and outlying areas, because they were the only high-speed Internet connection available. However, they are increasingly being deployed in urban areas, competing with traditional cable providers.
Many UK Businesses use WISPs for regular Internet access as well as for backup in case their wired or cable connection fails.
With the new 5G technology, superfast Broadband (1Gb+) represents a serious challenge to Fibre Optic Broadband services.
Satellite Broadband is the third main category of Broadband – after Fixed Line and Wireless – and is useful for those who don’t have access to traditional fixed line broadband or wireless/mobile Broadband – typically, households in rural and remote areas of the UK. Satellite broadband is transmitted using a wireless connection via a satellite dish, similar to those used for satellite TV. The difference is that with a satellite internet service, data can both be sent and received.
GEO means Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit and is essentially the same as GSO (Geo Stationary Orbit). MEO is Medium Earth Orbit, LEO means Low Earth Orbit.
The main advantage is that almost all the UK has Satellite Coverage, which means pretty much guaranteed access to Broadband (and of course coverage is available outside the UK for second homes or businesses with international branches).
New Satellite networks service are being built in the LEO category which will provide superfast broadband with lowest latency. Satellite Broadband speeds are getting faster, and in many cases match other Fixed and Wireless Broadband options.
News and Recommendations for UK Fixed Broadband Users
OFCOM - the UK Regulator for "all things telecom related" - has recently made it much easier to switch providers as reported in a recent blog post - just click on the image to see the report.
A more recent post from OFCOM also shows that Homeowners could save £5 per month on average by switching suppliers.
More recently still (December 2021) the maximum term for a new Broadband Contract has been fixed at 2 years - all good news for UK consumers.
It's easy to carry out a test on the Broadband Speed you are getting right now, This speed test can be made from any device connected to the Internet - even from your mobile phone to check your Mobile Broadband speed.. You can then compare the results with what the broadband provider is claiming
Just click on the green icon.
The official OFCOM website has a good deal of information covering the latest news, and also Broadband related topics such as the "roll-out" of broadband coverage by postcode and Area.
The OFCOM site also provides contact information for both Fixed Broadband and Mobile Suppliers, with Cable, Wireless and Mobile Network coverage Maps.
Click on the image to visit the News Section.
We do not make recommendations about particular suppliers or publish prices and deals, partly because the UK broadband Services and Market is changing rapidly, and partly because this is an independent website. At the top of this page, we show most of the leading UK Fixed Broadband suppliers, many of whom "piggy-back" (LLU) on the BT/Openreach UK network. We do support advertising. see below.
One of the ways to keep up to date with the best Broadband deals and share experiences is to join one of the many Broadband Blogs or Forums - we would recommend thinkbroadband.com and ispreview.co.uk - link provided.
Whether you are in Business or a UK Homeowner or Homeworker, the chances are that your Broadband service comes from one of the many Broadband Cabinets (or Cable Distribution Points). How far your building is from the Cabinet has a direct bearing on the speed of your broadband.
Click on the image for more info.
Apart from KCom which supplies Hull and the East Riding, there are some new "kids on the block" competing with the larger established UK Telecom Operators, and building their own private superfast fibre networks in specific areas of the UK - for example Community Fibre and G.Network cover London, Swish covers much of the Home Counties, Gigabit Networks covers much of the Midlands, iTS covers Liverpool and the NorthWest. Although their target market is often the business sector, there are opportunities for Homeowners to benefit.
If you are not that technical or familiar with telecoms and broadband, and do not want the hassle of dealing with suppliers directly, or dealing with their salesmen, we recommend the services of a Broadband Broker, Their function is to provide you with free and independent broadband advice.
Clicking on the image will take you directly to a FREE Broadband Report Service.
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