There are many ways you can connect your PC or laptop to the internet. We explain the different ways to get yourself online on your computer
When it comes to connecting your PC to the internet there is a vast array of choices, so we are going to take a look at what is available and how to choose. We won’t give specific company recommendations or prices but our guide will help you decide.
The main distinction in wired connections is between ADSL and cable internet. The former uses the BT phone line in your home to provide internet as well as voice calls. A big choice of internet service providers (ISPs) is available, and some also offer a phone service so you don’t need to use BT at all. Companies such as Talktalk and Sky, as well as BT, ‘bundle’ phone services with TV and internet connections. The ADSL connection requires an active phone line.
Standard ADSL offers speeds of up to 8Mbits/sec, but newer ADSL2 and ADSL2+ technology can increase this to 24Mbits/sec. If an ISP offers a connection speed of 10Mbits/sec or more, it is using ADSL2/2+. To the user, it doesn’t matter – you need an ADSL2+ compatible router, but the ISP will provide this.
Cable connections use the national fibre-optic cable network provided by Virgin Media. It also provides TV and phone services through the same line. Cable can be faster than ADSL – up to 50Mbits/sec – though the downsides are that there is only one provider and it doesn’t cover the whole country.
Kingston-upon-Hull is an exception. Because of a historical oddity it’s the only place on the British mainland where BT wasn’t the telephone supplier. KCom (formerly Kingston Communications) is still the sole supplier of most phone services, so most Hull residents and businesses will need to use a KCom service.
BT has been advertising its Infinity service, a fibre-optic connection similar to that of Virgin Media, but using a separate network being set up by BT. Available speeds will be up to 30Mbits/sec. At the moment it’s available to very few people in certain areas, but BT expects to offer connections to 40 per cent of the country by summer 2012.
There are still parts of the UK where it’s impossible to get a fixed-line broadband connection. For people there, one answer is satellite internet, using a dish aerial to receive internet signals. However, unlike with satellite TV, this connection is two-way: in addition to receiving data, the outgoing data goes up to the satellite as well. It can be expensive (up to £100 a month) but for some people it’s the only way to get a reliable connection.
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