There are lots of different options available for connecting to the Internet in a country such as Australia. Thankfully, the tedious days of dial-up will soon be consigned to history. The word on everyone’s lips when talking about Internet connections now is “high-speed”.
If you’ve wondered what the acronyms were but were too afraid to ask, it’s covered here. We also look at how Internet service providers (ISP) may trick you, quite legally, into thinking you’re getting one speed, only to find you actually end up surfing using something much slower a lot of the time.
This doesn’t feel all that fast…
Choosing an ISP to use to connect to the Internet is not a particularly easy process, especially if you live in an urban area, simply because of the sheer number of possible providers to choose from these days. With dozens of plans on offer in the Australian market, choosing a company, speed and appropriate plan to suit your usage and budget can be quite daunting.
For many first-time broadband customers price is generally the most important consideration, followed by speed. It can be very confusing, so people are often lured into high-speed packages that seem like a good deal. Most of the time, they probably are, but coming from an old dial-up modem, any broadband connection will seem faster!
Confronted with the difference (at least on paper) between having a 256kbps or 1 1500kbps connection, most will opt for as high as they can afford. Generally, however, people tend to choose a speed somewhere in the middle of the range. The fact is what you paid for and what you actually get can be quite different. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently forced ISPs to add fine print to their websites and advertisements telling consumers advertised speeds aren’t necessarily true speeds customers will experience.
This isn’t what I paid for!
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) ISPs will often put far too many people on one network, in the hope that not all of them will be using the Net at the same time. A lot of the time this is true but lag from heavy traffic due to this over-subscription can mean a serious drop in speeds at peak times. Speeds of 2Mbps (two megabits, which is just half of the 4,000kbs you forked out your hard-earned cash for) can be common, but it often depends on your ISP’s situation in your area.
Naturally, as well as altering the speed of your web browsing, this affects the downloading of files. Large files may take much longer than expected, even more so if you’re sharing your Internet connection on a network.
Peak times are something to take into consideration. You’ll find network congestion very high between 5pm and 7pm each evening, as people check emails and access other ways to keep in touch with friends and family.
Unfortunately the same thing can happen with cable Internet, and your options are limited here too. It’s best to check with neighbours before signing up. After you sign it’s likely you will have to surf late at night or in the middle of the day to get a maximum speed.
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