Guide to superfast broadband

Broadband has been a requirement rather than a luxury for some years now. In fact, what an increasing number of consumers are looking for these days is superfast broadband. Here we explain what superfast broadband really means – as well as how you go about getting it.

In short, superfast broadband is generally defined as having download speeds of at least 20Mbps – and more importantly, these speeds come with no upper limit. This compares with standard ADSL speeds that currently average about 7.6Mpbs.

The increased download speeds of superfast broadband will of course translate into faster download times for music, TV streaming as well as playing online video games.

How does superfast broadband work?

However, you can't get superfast broadband with the traditional ADSL cables. (ADSL is still the most common broadband connection method and, put in simple terms, is an upgraded telephone line that is always on – rather than just kicking in when the telephone rings as was the case prior to this).

Superfast broadband uses fibre optic cables to deliver the signal to your house instead of copper wires. The signals can pass through these cables a lot faster and with less interference. This means that you will consistently receive faster download speeds.

As you can guess, superfast fibre optic broadband is more expensive but, as more and more providers are offering the service, the price is starting to fall. You can shop around for what's available on MoneySupermarket's broadband comparison channel.

Do I need superfast broadband?

Getting a superfast broadband service is not a decision to be taken too lightly as the installation can cause quite a lot of disruption in your home. So how do you decide if it's worth it?

The first step is to find out whether it's suitable for you. Unsurprisingly, superfast broadband is most ideal for heavy users of the internet. For example, online gamers, people who download lots of movies and music and so on. However, if you're a medium internet user who just goes online to surf the web, stream videos on YouTube and check emails then you may find that the extra cost involved with a superfast broadband package is not worth it.

But it might not be for entertainment purposes that you need superfast broadband. You could be self-employed, work from home and simply can't afford for the speed of your internet to drop off. In this instance, a superfast broadband connection may be essential.

Can I even get superfast broadband?

If you have established that superfast broadband is for you, unfortunately, there may still be some stumbling blocks.

Not all areas of the UK are serviced yet with fibre optic broadband wires – and small towns and villages in the countryside are the least likely to have access to this service.

If fibre optic broadband is available in your area – as is still the case with the majority of UK households – it's still important to shop around online and see what's available. This will vary in terms of upload and download speeds, as well as maximum usage and costs.

A good place to kick off your research however, is by conducting a speed test to see what sort of download speeds you are currently receiving. You may find that you are happy with the speeds that you are receiving, in which case a switch to superfast broadband may not be necessary.

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