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"When a computer crashes there are 2 kinds of people. Those that say "Sure glad I backed up yesterday and those that say "Oh no, what about all my pictures, documents and emails"

Broadband Basics

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Update

Broadband has come a long way since this Tipsheet was created. Though still, relevant. the Tipsheet doesn't show much about new improved broadband. Future updates will include Wi-Fi and Home/SmallBusiness wireless networks. 

Today, living with dialup is near impossible. Updates to your operating system could take hours on a dialup account. Broadband is cheap, broadband in quick. If you have dialup seriously consider making the change.

 Broadband is a complex subject with many technical terms. This tip sheet is written in plain English. It will take some of the mystery out of broadband. It will provide you with enough information to help decide if you should switch to  broadband. The tip sheet will make you aware of some of the terms used and how they affect the plan you choose.

 Glossary of Terms Used In This Tip Sheet

Broadband

Refers to ADSL, Cable or Satellite internet connections

Broadband is a quicker internet connection that does not depend on a separate phone line.

ISP

 

 

Internet Service Provider

The company that you pay for your internet connection, be it broadband or dial up

Dial Up Connection

The standard internet connection where your modem dials the local number for your ISP and you connect to the internet

Also referred to as dialup

Upload

Data that you upload to the internet.

This would include files you send to others, emails and request for internet pages. For instance. When you type www.mangocomp.com in the address bar you are uploading the page request.

Download

Data that you download from the internet.

This does not just include files, programs, photos, movies or music that you download. It also includes all the WebPages that you look at. Even though you are not keeping the pages on your computer you are in fact temporarily downloading the information and it will be charged against your download allowance.

Download Allowance

The amount of information your plan allows you to download at the basic rate. Going over this rate can incur extra charges that can be very high.

Some ISPs (Internet Service Providers) count both Downloads and Uploads against your allowance. It is a good idea to find an ISP that does not count uploads.

Throttling

 

Shaping (same as throttling)

Reducing your connection speed after you exceed your monthly download allowance.

This is a good thing. Rather than be charged for extra downloads your service will be throttled back to dialup speed.

Kbps

Kilobytes per second

Used to measure the speed of a connection

 We will limit our discussion to ADSL broadband connections. The reason being it is the most prevalent. This is not to discount the other two methods.

 Cable

Cable is much faster but you are limited to the cable provider in your area. The same providers that provide Foxtel (Telstra) or  Optus. Cable is available only in limited areas and is limited to two providers. Also the cable modem will only work with the one provider so if you move or want to change service you could be out the cost of the modem. Although cable is faster its availability is limited.

Satellite

Satellite provides service for rural areas not served by cable or ADSL. With satellite you still need to use the phone line for uploading. You just use the satellite for downloading. The upfront cost is high, but if you live in a rural area you may be eligible for government assistance to help defray the cost.

 ADSL

No technical terms here. Basically the phone lines running into your home have some extra wires. These wires can be used to connect to the internet. You are able to connect to the internet at faster speeds and use your phone for conversation at the same time.

 Be on the internet and talk on the phone at the same time

With ADSL (broadband) you can be connected to the internet and still be talking on the telephone. No need for an extra phone line or tying up your line while surfing the net.

Is ADSL available everywhere?

No, but it is widely available. Most ISPs have a web page you can use to check availability of the service to your phone.

The advantages of Broadband

Broad band is a lot faster than dialup connections. Web pages will load faster. You will be amazed at how fast file downloads will be.

 Some Examples

A complex web page (150kBytes) might take 42 seconds to load using dialup. With broadband you could have it loaded in 1 to 10 seconds.

 Downloading files is where broadband really shines

A 10 Mbyte file would take about 50 minutes to download using a dialup account. On broadband the same file could load in 1 minutes to 11 minutes depending upon the speed of your plan.

 

File Size

Dial-up internet

Broadband

 

 

256 kbps

1500 kbps

150 Kbytes
(complex webpage)

42 secs

4.7 secs

0.8 secs

10 Mbyte
(large file or photo)

50 minutes  

5 minutes 5 seconds

10.6 secs

 Always connected to the internet

There is no need to shut down your connection. When you want to send an email you just send it. When an email arrives you can have your email program play a sound to let you know. You can be reading an email within seconds of its being sent.

With your internet always on you could find a street faster using www.whereis.com.au, quicker than pulling out your UBD.

Cost

Initially you have a connection fee for broadband, and the monthly fee is normally higher, but if you factor in the other cost of dialup, broadband could save you money.

If you use the net a lot you donít have to worry about having a phone line just for the net. Also with dialup every time you go on line you are paying for the cost of a local call. Also many broadband plans allow for higher download allowances. If you ever had to pay for exceeding your download limit you can see where this would be a savings.

 Safety

If you always have your broadband on you must have a good anti-virus program, and you have to keep it up to date. You should also have a firewall, and should keep your Windows Operating System up to date using the update feature on your computer. Not that broadband is any more dangerous than dialup, it is that you are online longer so have more exposure.

 Who should have Broadband?

Those that spend a lot of time on the net. Those that play online games. Those that use the web for research. Anyone that wants to fully enjoy the benefits of the internet.

 Why donít more people have Broadband?

The industry has done studies on this. The results show that people are used to and comfortable with their dialup accounts. Setting up broadband is new and a bit more complicated so to many the feeling is ďI can get by with thisĒ. This is normal, but if you want the full benefits of the internet you should consider broadband. 

What should You know before getting broadband

Unlike dialup where your speed is based on your modem you must choose a speed with broadband. Normally the faster the connection the higher the cost.

I looked at some broadband providers on the internet and it was confusing, can you explain the numbers?

It can be confusing. When quoting plan speeds providers use 2 sets of numbers. As an example  256/64

The first number is the download speed 256 kilobytes per second. The second number is the upload speed 64 kilobytes per second.

The typical speeds offered are

256/64  kbps

512/128 kbps

1500/256 kbps

Compare this to your modem speed of 56 kbs and you can see why broadband is faster.

 

Download Allowance

Know and understand your download allowance. Does it include uploads? What happens when I exceed my downloads? These are questions you must consider.

Because of the speed and ease of use of broadband you will probably be visiting more web pages and downloading more files than you did using dialup.

With some ISPs when you exceed your allowance you are charged for the extra downloads. This is usually at an exaggerated rate. There have been cases of people expecting a monthly bill of $50-$100 being surprised with charges of many thousands of dollars.  Some ISPs, rather than charging extra, may just slow your connection to modem speed until the new month starts. You have a slower connection but you get no surprise at the end of the month. When your new billing period starts you are back to your normal fast connection.

Set-up cost

The set-up cost will normally vary depending upon how long of a contract you choose. The longer the contract the lower the initial cost. But please consider this. The market is becoming more competitive. A good price now may not be a good price in 12 months. It is probably better to pay a bit more and have a six month rather than a 24 month contract.

Another factor affecting the price is the modem. You canít use your old computer modem You need a broadband modem. Most providers will provide a modem for you. You may have a chance to choose between different modems and your choice will determine the set-up cost. Of course if you provide your own modem the set-up cost will reflect this.

Filters: You must have a filter connected to each phone/extension that shares the line used for broadband. Simple to install, just plug them in. Filters cost between $15-$20 each. 

Broadband plan with dialup access

Some plans provide you with a dialup account at no additional charge. This allows you to have internet access when away from your home computer. It also provides you a way to get on the internet if there is a disruption to the broadband network.

How does the process of getting broadband work?

Of course it varies from provider to provider but most follow a similar procedure.

bulletYou choose the provider you want
bulletAt the providers website you check to see if ADSL is available to your phone number If it is proceed to the next step
bulletYou apply for the account
bulletThe provider double checks that your existing phone system will allow broadband
bulletThe necessary changes will be made at the phone exchange to provide your connection (this is all done at the telephone exchange no on site visit necessary)
bulletThe above could take 5 to 10 working days.
bulletIf all goes well the provider will contact you and your modem will be sent to you.
bulletYou hook up the modem and you are on broadband

If you have more than one computer in your home and want them all to have broadband access there are other points to consider. You may want to consider a router modem. This will network your computers and give them all broadband access through the same account. With multiple computers you will look beyond the basic modem offered in most plans. Many ISPs are offering modems that allow multiple computers to connect to the same account. You could also have a wireless router modem that will allow networking without wires.

Having broadband truly opens up the benefits of the internet. Its high speed allows you to do more in less time. The cost is not much more than dialup and for those who use the net often can actually be cheaper. You wonít have the bother of  tying up your phone line and you will not have your internet connection dropping out on you. It is certainly worth your consideration.

Quick Reference List

(some items to pay attention to when choosing a plan)

bulletInstallation Cost
bulletLength of Contract
bulletWill you also be provided with a dialup account for backup
bulletDoes the ISP charge uploads as well as downloads against your download allowance.
bulletDownload Allowance
bulletHow Excessive Downloads Are Handled (throttling/shaping or extra charges)
bulletNumber of Computers You Want Connected

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