Getting the Best from Your Broadband Connection

Confused about Broadband and how to get the best results? Don`t despair - you are not alone. In the world of cyberspeak, marketing frequently beats technology and what is claimed is rarely what you get. In fairness, this is not always the Broadband service provider`s fault, because there are actually several factors that can affect real-world performance. The limits of performance will vary depending on the type of broadband you have, where you live and how you use it.

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) operates over existing phone lines that may be copper, optic fibre or both. Your service provider may have to share the infrastructure with another provider and this could vary from one service area to another. The distance from your modem to the ISP will affect the speed in most cases. Further complicating the matter is the possible option of various levels of ADSL, some significantly faster than others, so before signing up, it is essential to check what is actually available in your specific area and choose accordingly.

Another option is cable broadband, usually (but not exclusively) provided as an add-on to the pay-TV infrastructure. Resulting performance can vary greatly, with cable sometimes being faster than ADSL.

For many users, especially those who work away from their own premises on any regular basis, wireless broadband is now a highly viable alternative to a fixed line or cable service. Sometimes called Wi-Fi, a device attached to the computer operates via radio frequency (RF) signals broadcast from a transmitter/receiver. However, as with ADSL, it is important to check before signing up that reception at an acceptable standard in your area is assured.

For the sake of completeness, the remaining option for broadband is satellite, the only solution in remote areas and perhaps even elsewhere, if a stand-alone permanent solution is critical.

As a general guide, the speed you get from your ISP depends on a number of factors, such as the quality/length of your line, interference and network congestion. Also consider the effect a network of several computers, routers etc may have on performance. They can affect the quality of your connection due to their own limitations and use of encryption. The time at which downloads are made will also have a significant effect.

If large files have to be transferred on any regular basis, scheduling these for off-peak times will invariably be faster than at peak times. As a guide, "peak" will generally be between 9am and 3pm, then between 5 and 9pm during which many service providers will deliberately reduce the download speed to preserve overall network performance. To encourage use of off-peak, some providers may charge lower transfer rates in off-peak periods. Such factors can be determined by reading the terms and conditions published by each service provider.

Conducting a Broadband Speed Check to determine your actual performance is quite simple and there are many on-line ways to do this. Be sure to choose a recognised industry leader who may also offer promotional or package deals on other related Internet services to establish or improve your broadband experience.