Do you know broadband?
You may answer yes. I know you may have tried different broadband from several broadband ISPs. You may have installed broadband by yourself several times. You know broadband speed – 2Mb, 8Mb or 24 Mb. You may understand the monthly usage and control your usage. But if you are not a technician in that area, you may not know everything behind these numbers. There is something broadband ISPs will not tell you, or try to write it in a shady corner on their web page.
Let me tell you all these things:
As more and more ISPs have packages, the price became more and more incomparable. Some packages like Talktalk have call bundles (including anytime package or off-peak package), some are combined with mobile phone contract, and some deals are only available to TV Program subscribers.
A main problem is most deal descriptions don’t show whether the price contains the line rental. They may wish customer forget the existence of line rental. But usually, if the deal doesn’t tell you that, it means the line rental is not included in the price. If the line rental is included, no ISP will forget to tell you.
When we talk to speed, I should tell you broadband ISPs are playing two tricks in words.
The first is the unit. They usually use Mb to describe the speed. Do you think if the speed can reach the theoretic max speed, you can download a song in MP3 format (about 4MB) in half a second? You are tricked. In computer, the size of the file is displayed in MB, which means MegaByte. While in broadband specification, speed is showed in Mb, which means Megabit. 1 MegaByte = 8 Megabit. So 8Mb per second means 1 MB per second.
Another instance I have to emphasise is: Do ask your broadband ISP the maximum speed your phone line can support. Because not all the phone line in UK support 8Mb broadband. Phone lines in some areas can only reach 2Mbps. If your telephone line can’t support fast speed, it’s a waste of money to buy fast broadband. And I know some ISP don’t check it for customers and just open fast broadband for customers no matter real speed the phone line can reach.
Now, we know the actually speed broadband ISPs provide to us. However, there is another bad news – you may have to share the bandwidth with other 49 people.
So in Internet rush hour, the real speed may be slow down to 160 Kb a second. That is 20 KB per second.
Wonder why? Because there is a connection rate for broadband! Few broadband ISPs tell customers its connection rate on an explicit place on the web site. But it does affect the speed a lot.
So what is connection rate? Connection rate shows the number of users who share the bandwidth on a single broadband connection between your local exchange and your broadband ISP. Normally, the connection ratios are 50:1 and 20:1.
In UK, the connection rate for home broadband is 50:1, which means you would likely to share your bandwidth with 49 other users, of course, never more than that number. The connection ratio for business broadband is 20:1. It will be much faster in Internet rush hour.
Are you annoyed because many providers set a monthly usage cap for broadband, so that you have to check all the time how much you used? Are you looking for broadband with unlimited usage? But you have to consider this instance, if one broadband provider offers unlimited broadband, and customers of this broadband will try and use it all the time. Most providers offer unlimited broadband will have a fair use policy, which actually is led by the connection rate. As there is a connection rate exists, usually 50 people share one line between the exchange and the broadband ISP, so many people will cause the broadband network grind to a halt. This not only makes your broadband speed slows down, but also makes the volume you download decrease largely.
Let me do some calculation, if there are always 40 people (as we have seen, one line may be shared by 50 people) using an 8Mb speed broadband, then the real speed for each person is 200Kb/s. That is 25 KB per second. So you can download as much as 90 MB in one hour, in theory. If you download 12 hour a day, 30 days a month, you can download as much as 32 GB. This number is less than some deals with 40 GB monthly cap. So, don’t only looks at the unlimited broadband, even if you download a lot, some deals with large monthly cap provide almost the same volume you can download.