Having covered devices (computers, phones & tablets) a few months ago I thought it would make sense to look at the main thing you need to actually make the most use of them. Namely an internet connection. Most of you reading will already have an internet connection of course but I thought that it was still worth writing a guide not just for the uninitiated but also to review what’s sorts of services are available in the area and maybe try and help people who may be a few miles outside the village and suffer from poor speeds.
The main type of broadband comes through your phone line. There are 2 types, the older slower ADSL line which offers speeds up to 24 Mbits per second (I will go in to more detail of what a Mega Bit is on the website – for now just accept my word that more is better). And Superfast Fibre (VDSL) broadband which can give you speeds of up to 76 Mbits per second. These are theoretical maximum speeds and your actual speed will depend on how far away you are from the BT exchange (for ADSL lines) or how far from your nearest green BT cabinet you are (for VDSL). In the future there will be Ultra Fast Broadband available from BT which involves replacing the current phone lines with fibre optic cable and can provide speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second (or 1000 Mbits). When this will arrive for all is not clear, you may have vague memories of the before times and Boris Johnson promising we would all have it by 2025 but given everything that’s happened since it may be pushed back a few years.
In this area you can order broadband through many different companies (BT, Sky, Talk Talk etc.) but ultimately these are all what’s known as BT Wholesale products since all the lines and equipment are supplied by BT. In larger towns and cities some companies have been able to put in their own infrastructure for Broadband (the biggest being Virgin Media who can offer faster speeds through their cable network).
So that’s your basic fixed line options but what if you already have broadband and aren’t happy with your speeds. Many people who live too far away from their local cabinet or the Mayfield exchange might struggle with very slow speeds. All is not lost though. Firstly there are a few areas where full fibre cables have already been fitted to connect people under the Wealden build scheme from a few years ago but were too far away from the cabinet for VDSL so its worth checking with BT if that’s the case.
The next option (and I’m going in likely cost order here from cheapest to most expensive) is to use 4g mobile broadband (EE, Three UK, Vodafone etc.) and ditch the landline based broadband. Signal coverage varies greatly from area to area and provider to provider (especially in Mayfield although Five Ashes fares better) but you can try and boost this by using a special 4g router and fitting an external antennae.
If you find that your mobile signal is too slow no matter what you try then Satellite broadband might be worth investigating. This is often fairly expensive and requires a dish be fitted. Speeds are ok but not really suitable for things like online gaming since your internet is beaming down from space.
Lastly (and in all likelihood most expensively) there are ways to try and get a full fibre connection ahead of BT’s official roll out. This basically requires that the cost of getting the fibre cable to your property is paid by you and so depending on how long the cable is and where it needs to get through this can be thousands of pounds. That said its possible to split your cost if you have a close neighbour who is willing to go halves and you might be eligible for government grants that can reduce the costs significantly too.