What is broadband?
Broadband is a term normally considered to be synonymous with a high-speed connection to the internet.
ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) broadband is available across most of the UK, provided through a standard copper telephone line. ADSL has had several improvements over the years, although not all exchanges have access to such upgrades. ADSL Max gives access to download speeds of up to 8Mbps (most Openreach exchanges now being ADSL Max enabled). ADSL2+ more than doubles the speed of an ADSL Max connection, providing up to 20Mbps through changing the transmission frequency. However, not all exchanges have this technology UK wide.
The next step up from ADSL2+ is VDSL (very high bit-rate digital subscriber line). This can deliver speeds of up to 80Mbps over very short distances – far too short to reach the exchange. As such it only works in areas where fibre optic cables have been laid to new cabinets from the exchange, copper then running from the old cabinet to the premises. This type of technology is known as Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) and is the predominant technology that our programme will be delivering to achieve its superfast target.
Fibre to the Home/Premises (FTTH/FTTP) is another fibre technology that can offer speeds of up to 100Mbps+ – in fact BT and Virgin have both run successful trials of 1Gbps (1 gigabit or 1000 megabit) services. The speeds available with such connections are far higher as there is no copper cable between the exchange and the premises to restrict data transmission through the laws of Physics. However, whilst a lot faster, they are also a lot more expensive to install, primarily due to greater amounts of ducting being required and requirements for wayleaves as well as further planning issues. For this reason Connecting Devon and Somerset, whilst using FTTP in certain areas, will not be using this extensively to achieve its 90% superfast target.
Both FTTH/FTTP have the capacity to receive and send phone calls over the internet using the Voice Over IP (VOIP) protocol. However, in reality, in so far as your telephone service is concerned, you will still require your copper telephone line for your telephone service unless you actively switch to a VOIP service.