Fast, superfast, ultrafast, fibre, Mbps, unlimited…these are terms you’ll be familiar with if you’ve ever shopped for broadband. But what do they actually mean? Here we unpick some of the jargon to help you understand what broadband package is right for you.
Mbps is short for megabits per second. A megabit is a measure of the transfer of data. So in short, the greater the Mbps, the faster the broadband speed. To give you some perspective, broadband speeds can range from less than 10 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps. 1,000 Mbps is also known as 1 Gbps, or one gigabit per second. In reality, very few people will need anything close to 1 Gbps for home use.
Standard broadband is usually around 10 Mbps and may be advertised as up to 17 Mbps.
The definition of ‘high speed’ broadband and ‘superfast broadband’ tends to overlap. You may find broadband packages of around 24 Mbps called ‘high speed’. Ofcom guidelines state that to call a package ‘Superfast’, it should provide speeds of 30 Mbps or higher.
Ultrafast is defined as speeds of over 100Mbps.
Standard broadband is sufficient for browsing the internet and sending emails. However, a high-speed package is more likely to suit your needs if:
It’s unlikely that you’ll need ultrafast broadband for home use.
You’ll often hear ‘fibre’ being used by broadband providers as a selling point. Fibre broadband uses fibre optic cables to connect you to the internet, whereas copper broadband, also known as ADSL broadband, connects you via copper telephone cables.
Fibre broadband is faster than copper broadband, but whether you can get fibre will depend on where you live.
Some broadband packages give you a monthly ‘allowance’, limiting how much information you can download. Unlimited broadband means there is no download limit.
Everything you do online contributes to your monthly download limit, but watching movies online, downloading large files or gaming will eat up your allowance much more quickly than simply browsing the internet. If you often stream or download movies or games, you’re likely to be better off with an unlimited package.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a broadband package: