Broadband Basics

As part of our commitment to quality we’re committed to helping people understand broadband better therefore allowing them to make more informed choices. We’ve put together some information below which we think goes to the heart of what people need to know.

How much speed do I need?

Many applications on the internet do not require a huge speed to function effectively as long as you have a high quality reliable broadband connection. Of course you may always want a faster speed to be able to download things like films, music and photos faster!

Often the key issue people forget is that usage is cumulative, so it depends what other things you (or other people in your home or business) will be using your connection for at the same time.

To give an illustration: imagine you’re online shopping (using about 1mb/s) whilst downloading a film or game demo (about 4mb/s to download 1GB in 30min), and at the same time you’ve got a teenager in the house on skype (about 1mb/s) whilst the other half is watching a high quality YouTube video (about 2mb/s). That’s a total of approximately 8mb/s.

This is why we offer basic packages for those that just need to get online alongside packages with more speed and bandwidth for those that need it. Our focus is on providing a high quality reliable service for all our customers whatever their needs.

Why do I get a slow speed?

There are a range of a factors that cause slow speeds. For most rural areas the simple answer is line length. The signal strength in the copper cables that carry traditional services degrades over distance. The further you are form the exchange the weaker the signal and therefore the slower the maximum possible speed you can receive.  Its also important to consider that this is the actual line length not your ‘as the crow flies’ distance form the exchange which can be considerably shorter. Rural exchanges usually cover large geographical areas which is why broadband is particularly bad for rural communities.

As ThinkingWISP is wireless it isn’t effected by the length of copper cables and the ranges we transmit over  are chosen to ensure you always receive a good signal strength.

Another important factor is….

Who do I share my connection with?

Put simply when people quote a broadband speed they are talking about an allocation of bandwidth you can think of this as a pipe. The speed quoted is the maximum flow of data down that pipe. What providers do with a standard retail broadband package is allocate more than one customer per section of pipe. This is called contention. The contention ratio is the number of customers per pipe. So if you are quoted 50mb/s and you have 50 people using the service at the same time then you are only going to get 1mb/s (assuming the service is managed effectively and bandwidth allocated evenly).

This is why when the kids get home from school broadband speeds often fall as you are sharing your connection with more active users. On the other hand if you happen to be browsing at 2 am you’ll generally get a much better speed!

We are committed to maintaining low contention ratios and actively managing connections so that all our customer receive a high quality service.

Although a little out of date this BBC article has some more information about why differences in speed occur.



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