Broadband Guide: Matching Broadband Plans with Your Needs
You have various broadband options, so how to choose between them? The first thing is to consider your Internet usage – whether you're watching streaming video, downloading, or web surfing. From there, you can determine which type of plan best covers that usage.
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) offers speeds from 256Kbps up to 8Mb. It's widely available because it runs through telephone lines. It's best for web surfers who have strict budgets or who need broadband because it's always on, rather than because of heavy data usage.
ADSL2+ has speeds up to 24Mb. The industry has more competition, so customers can get deals. Unfortunately, ADSL2+ speed is very dependent on the distance from exchanges. It's best for gamers, heavy downloaders, and VoIP users, people who require great speeds at a cheaper cost, but it's only feasible if you live in the right area.
Naked DSL includes the technology of ADSL2+ but without the phone line. You get the speed and competition of the ADSL2+ market without having to pay for a phone line. But that also means that you don't have a phone line. Most plans come with a Voice over IP (VoIP) line to address this, but if the Internet goes down, so does your phone. It's best for family users, as well as those who don't need or want a home phone line and want to keep costs down.
Cable's main advantage is its speed. The newest fibre networks can offer speeds up to 100Mb. Unfortunately it's only available in certain locations. Since there are fewer providers, there is less price competition, so cable plans can be more expensive than alternatives. They're best for people in newer housing. If cable is available, it's likely that ADSL2+ is, too. The latter may well offer more value for the money.
Wireless sends data across the mobile network, so you get a lot of mobility. It's bad for those same reasons; as with one's mobile, signal strength can vary greatly depending on location. Wireless can also be very expensive, most especially if you exceed data limits. Gamers and heavy downloaders should avoid it. It's best for renters, people in outlying areas, and people who can afford it.
It usually isn't very fast, nor is it ideal for high-bandwidth activities like VoIP or video conferencing, but for remote areas it may be the only option.
When choosing a plan, find what's available to you and consider what's on offer. Make sure to read the fine print; things like data caps are often buried there and they do make a difference.
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