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Except in some remote locations, Broadband has effectively replaced dial-up connection to the Internet. However, Broadband is not just Broadband – it comes in many different forms and speeds.
By way of explanation, these consist of copper or optic fibre cables, usually provided by a telephone company; cable broadband usually via a TV set-top box or similar combined Internet and pay-TV and teletext subscriber service; wireless broadband that is literally broadcast in a similar way to mobile phone services - the ideal choice for those working away from a fixed office location; then last but not least, satellite broadband, requiring a satellite dish, this last option being mainly the only viable option for remote areas.
In practice, for the urban user, the choice essentially resolves itself because the alternatives are usually limited to what is actually available or affordable. ADSL, regardless of whether it is delivered by copper or Fibre Optic cable has the advantage of combining telephone and Internet delivery over a single line at broadband speeds.
In this way, it is necessary only to pay for a single line and around 60% of ADSL users get this service through a conveniently located BT reseller, as distinct from BT itself.
Depending on the service provider, it is possible to get "naked DSL" as an alternative to various enhanced derivatives, the latter being where virtually everything is delivered "out-of-the box" for plug and play installation.
Mentioned above is Broadband supply via a cable service. While this service is expanding rapidly, it remains mostly restricted to major population centres with significant markets. This is a subscription-based service where any customer supplied with a set-top box to receive digital TV invariably gets Internet access as part of the package.
This is a highly effective delivery method, providing reliable high-speed Internet access. However, there may also be disadvantages caused by the relative location of the TV and computers, requiring cabling or wireless routers to provide the link.
Fortunately the technology for networking has progressed significantly and is now well within the financial and practical reach of most households. Few business could (or should) operate without a simple network of computers to facilitate transfer of information within the business operation itself, as well as to suppliers and customers.
Still confused? Don't worry, it gets worse, because each delivery system will offer a number of variations in volume and speed, installation and running costs. The bandwidth can vary form128kbps (kilobits per second) to 4Mbps (megabits per second) and is can be imprudent to attempt to save money by signing for a lower plan than is likely to be needed.
The cheaper plans frequently charge very high rates for excess when the agreed limit has been reached. Others will not charge, but will reduce the access speed, often to dial-up speed. Either of these outcomes can severely restrict the value of the service to the user. On the upside, the cost of moving to a higher speed and/or higher volume plan is relatively low.
The issues outlined above are the reasons why professional ISP aggregation services can be so valuable because they bundle the best products and services of their ISP partners into packaged deals that would be unobtainable to an individual user.