Internet Access

Vigor ADSL router

Vigor ADSL router

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What do we need to get access to the Internet nowadays? The hardest part is choosing an access provider (otherwise known as an ISP), but it certainly isn't hard to get cheap internet access any more. Once upon a time your may you may have found that that dial-up access (or access dial up) was sufficient, but those days are long gone: welcome to broadband internet!


The best place to look for a comparative review of ADSL end-user internet access providers[1] in the UK is thinkbroadband.com, as it seems to have a healthy supply of feedback from end-users and up-to-date package and price information. The comparison and search pages are pretty useful, but the site doesn't actually offer a list of providers in 'reliability' order or 'customer service' order. To make up for this, I've put together an ADSL League Table.

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An interesting revelation is that plusnet's 2Mb service is provisioned at 20:1 contention ratio, normally only offered at the business level. Residential users will normally only get 50:1 (ie, you could potentially share your 512kb or 1Mb bandwidth with 50 others), and basically plusnet's reason is that they can't actually get 2Mb at 50:1 from BT. This might be true for other ISPs, and plusnet certainly hasn't made this ratio public knowledge at the point of sale. Furthermore, plusnet has now dropped the metered monthly price to £14.99, regardless of connection speed - 512kb, 1Mb or 2Mb. What a deal!

Now even Faster! Here's a quote from PlusNet on 17 Feb 2005: PlusNet's Broadband PAYG products (formerly known as "Lite") will also be extended to include 4Mb and 8Mb speeds from April. At £14.99 per month, and £1.50 per GB thereafter, speeds of up to 8Mb will be a fantastic value product option for light and infrequent Broadband users. This is something to look forward to!

  • Some people might like their low prices on "unlimited" (within reason, presumably) package - called Premier.
  • More prudent users, like me, may prefer the Lite package that limits the amount of bandwidth that you've paid for, and any extra is chargable per gigabyte used. On this plan the 1Mb option is only £15/month with 1GB of bandwidth thrown in; I would recommend this option, possibly with the 2GB bandwidth option at an extra £1.75/month.
  • Remember that Lite users can always buy more bandwidth if they need it, and will be automatically charged if they exceed their bandwidth usage. That charge is slightly higher than the amount charged if the bandwidth is prepaid.
  • More importantly, note that you will be charged around £15 to switch between 'Lite' and 'Premier' or if you want to change your download speed (ie, you want to go from 512kb/s to 1Mb/s)
It's a bit of a minefield, but first of all you need to have some idea of how much downloading you might do. If you just do 1/2 an hour to an hour of checking email and web browsing per night, the 1GB per month bandwidth limit should be plenty. Also, since the 1Mb/s speed costs the same as the 512kb/s speed, you might as well benefit from the faster download speed of 1MB/s. If you anticipate more intensive downloads, but are still not a heavy user, consider extra monthly bandwidth on the Lite package. The Premier package will only really apply to serious internetters.

I was with NTL for a few years, between 1999 and 2004, on their NTLWorld package. Technically the service was reasonable, but their customer service was highly mediocre. You could not expect much, if any, feedback on the rare connectivity outages, instead relying on frequent attempts to reconnect. It wasn't bad value at the time, though, but nowadays (late 2004) looks decidedly overpriced compared to the ADSL marketplace. Raising the bandwidth amounts has helped to narrow the gap, but it still seems overpriced.

Once you've decided on your ADSL provider and package, you then have all the fun of the hardware. I've put together a working guide to using ADSL to help you along.


broadband uk - Google News
UK broadband not fit for purpose, says business group - BBC News on 15 July 2014


BBC News
UK broadband is not fit for purpose and a major government rethink is needed, according to a business lobby group. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) says that the UK's broadband target is simply not ambitious enough when compared to other ...
CITY A.M.
Telegraph.co.uk
Register
 - -
Report: Google Fiber eyeing UK as next broadband stop, poses challenge to BT - FierceTelecom on 21 July 2014


FierceTelecom
Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG) has been looking at bringing its 1 Gbps-capable fiber to the home (FTTH) project to the UK, shaking up the country's broadband market that's been dominated by incumbent telco BT, reports The Telegraph. The Internet search ...
Mobile Today
uSwitch.com (Tech)
ZDNet
 - -
Treat broadband like roads, rail and power – give it a public funding surge - The Conversation on 21 July 2014


The Conversation
The Federation of Small Businesses is the latest organisation to question the UK's broadband strategy. It rather alarmingly points out that getting an adequate connection remains difficult for many businesses, which in turn is adversely affecting their ...

Google aimed to build ultrafast broadband in Britain - Telegraph.co.uk on 17 July 2014


Telegraph.co.uk
Google is understood to still be looking to build internet infrastructure in the UK, however. A source said: “Google historically have always publicly said they would never build fibre outside the US. But in the background they are talking to people ...

Superfast broadband projects at risk - Yorkshire Post on 20 July 2014


Yorkshire Post
The Combined Authority has secured £7 million from the Government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme to support its latest efforts and will match that with money from other sources. Bradford Council leader David Green, chaiman of the combined ...


[1] Internet Access Providers or IAPs are otherwise known as Internet Service Providers or ISPs. The two are technically different, as an access provider merely 'plugs you in' to the internet, whereas a service provider gives you lots of online services (such as email, webspace and the like). Almost every internet access package comes with such online services anyway.

Further Reading

Alternatives to landline broadband

09 Sep 2013

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How to Know if a Website is Safe to Buy From?

27 Aug 2013

We found companies: There is one company match: Sorry! There are no results for . Believe it or not, all these years after ...

Dodgy connection? Don't just blame your ISP

04 Feb 2012

ADSL is a proven, reliable technology, and on the whole it delivers a decent service for its users almost all of the time. When things go ...

Your wireless router may be vulnerable!

07 Jan 2012

Does your wireless router have PIN technology? This is where you can connect your computer to the router by pressing a button on the router ...

The State of UK Broadband

01 Dec 2011

As part of the Digital Economy Act 2010, Ofcom has a duty to report on the state of the UK's telecoms infrastructure every three years. Consequently ...

Most home wi-fi networks are insecure!

08 Oct 2011

A survey has found that over half of all home wi-fi networks in the UK are insecure and can be hacked into in under 5 seconds. A lot don't even ...

Use Speedtest.net For Broadband Speed

12 Jan 2011

To see what broadband speed you're getting, go to www.speedtest.net and click "Begin Test" to check your connection's latency (network delay ...

PlusNet: from Yorkshire, yes; independent, no.

05 Jan 2011

Internet access provider Plusnet advertises itself with the slogan "Good honest broadband from Yorkshire" and promotes itself with various people ...

Support the Campaign for Broadband Honesty

18 Nov 2010

A Virgin Media campaign is gaining momentum: broadband providers need to be more honest about their service speed. "You should be getting what ...

First Click for Internet Advice

16 Oct 2010

You might imagine that everyone is online nowadays, at some point in their waking day. Well, it just isn't true, and for those people without ...

Gadget Show Broadband Speed Test - Not Good Enough!

29 Sep 2010

How ironic. As part of their 'Gadget Show Truth' campaign, the Gadget Show on Five ran a piece this evening (20:45, 12 November 2007) on how ...

What has your broadband experience been like?

07 Sep 2010

Here are some people's experiences of their broadband provision. Some are quite vocal about how good or bad it is, and others are more candid ...

Building a safer cyberspace

14 Aug 2010

Westminster eForum Keynote Seminar "Taming the wild web 2010 - building a safer cyberspace" on 12 October 2010 in Central London. Speakers ...

The Net Neutrality Debate

23 Jul 2010

What is net neutrality, and what does it mean to you? Can we possibly have a level playing field when it comes to service provision, and yet ...

Virgin Media 50Meg product - is it a revolution?

03 Jan 2009

http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/3822-virgin-media-50meg-product-is-it-a-revolution.html Broadband has come a long way in eight years, from ...


Related Reading

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