In the UK, the main types of broadband connection are ADSL, 3G and 4G and Cable.
All offer varying speeds and data rates, all use different technology to deliver broadband to your home and all have different prices and different levels of availability depending on your location.
On the whole, most ADSL broadband providers are capable of delivering roughly the same speeds. Nearly all providers can handle at least 8Mbps, with most being up to 24Mbps on ADSL and ADSL 2+.
With cable broadband providers, there's more difference between them. In select areas, BT can provide speeds of up to 300Mbps, while Virgin Media's top speed is 152Mbps. Suppliers that use BT's network as the basis of their service, such as Sky, EE and TalkTalk, offer top-line speeds of between 38Mbps and 76Mbps.
3G currently provides up to 21Mbps and mean speeds of just over 3Mbps, while its newer sister technology 4G offers speeds up to five times the 3G average. In areas where EE has upgraded its 4G service, you can expect up to 80Mbps.
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Types of broadband
If you live in a built-up or major area, you probably have all options available to you. But if you live in a more remote, or rural area, the chances are you’ll be limited to ADSL or 3G.
ADSL broadband runs through telephone cables. The strength of the signal depends on the distance it has to travel and the quality of the cable.
In a city these won’t be issues, but if you live in rural Scotland, rural Wales or rural England then you could find yourself miles away from an exchange and using older cables. In these kind of extreme cases, the signal is very weak.
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3G provides steady speeds, averaging at around 3Mbps, but only works where there is mobile reception. Even with mobile providers sharing their networks (Orange and T-Mobile for example) there will still be parts of the country that are blackspots.
4G this more advanced form of mobile broadband technology is much faster than 3G, but comes at a price. Coverage of 4G across the UK is also much less extensive.
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Cable This is the fastest connection type but is only available in some areas. It provides super-fast speeds and generous data allowances, but is understandably more expensive than ADSL fixed line connections.
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ADSL is the most widely available type of broadband because it uses the existing BT infrastructure. Cable is faster and more reliable, but only on offer in certain areas, and 3G or 4G provide an excellent solution if you are mobile.
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