As an internet broadband connection comes increasingly to be regarded as an essential and standard household utility, attention among consumers is inevitably turning to the quality of such connections and in particular the various download speeds and capacities that are on offer. Such considerations are acquiring an ever greater importance as the number of things for which an internet connection may be used increases. Once used solely for browsing the internet for maybe an hour or two each day, such connections may now be used for anything from watching films and listening to music to playing video games and even the control of household appliances. The demand for many of these uses is often made at the same making the need for a sufficiently fast broadband connection ever more urgent.
Average download speeds for conventional telephone line broadband connections are not uniform throughout the UK and there is often a big gap between the speeds that are available in urban centers and those that are on offer in more rural areas. The 2016 annual Ofcom report on UK Broadband provision found an average download speed in built-up areas that was up to three times higher than that available in the countryside. Suburban areas averaged somewhere in between the two extremes, depending on their location within the country. These average download speeds compare unfavorably to those of other countries, with a recent UK parliamentary report in to the subject noting that the country only occasionally appears in the top 20 countries for available internet speeds, frequently trailing behind countries such as Sweden, South Korea and even Saudi Arabia.
By far the fastest download speeds in the UK are those available from fiber optic broadband connections. A standard internet connection received through a conventional telephone line might offer a maximum download speed capacity of 38 Mbps although a maximum of 18 is more usual and the maximum speed most frequently advertised by broadband providers. This is compared to the significantly higher average speed of anything between 40 Mbps and 300 Mbps that is afforded through the use of a fiber optic connection. It should also be noted that a number of studies by both Ofcom and assorted consumer groups have determined that whereas the maximum available download speeds advertised by companies providing standard broadband connections is rarely reached, the maximum speeds advertised and promoted for fiber optic connections regularly are.
Broadband Speeds – A Lottery of Location
As might be expected, a much faster, more consistent and reliable service will come at a higher price, although the extra amounts involved are not as big as might be expected depending on the current tariff the user is paying for their existing standard connection and the length of a contract that a subscriber is willing to enter in to. A search of home fiber optic broadband packages available in the UK using the comparison site Broadband choices reveals that the cost of a year’s subscription to a fiber optic internet connection varied significantly across a range from £383 to £680. This compared to a range of £185 to £357 for a similar year’s subscription to a conventional broadband connection found through the same website.
One further consideration on top of the extra cost involved is that broadband fiber optic provision is far from uniformly available throughout the country. Just as faster conventional broadband speeds tend to be found predominantly in cities and built-up areas, so too are fiber optic internet connections more readily available in such areas.
There is also a significant difference in fiber optic availability between the various nations within the UK, with availability in England considerably ahead of that in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
It is necessary for any user prospective user of fiber optic broadband to check that they are living in area where the technology is available before pursuing the matter any further. Fortunately a number of websites offer a postcode search facility that allows a user to find out instantly if fiber optic broadband is available within their home area and then, assuming that it is, supply them with full details of the companies supplying the service and the various deals that they offer for its use.