Internet Connection and Access Methods

We can divide the methods into two main types- Fixed and Mobile.

Home Internet

Fixed access is usually much faster and reliable than mobile and is used for connecting homes/offices. The main Access mechanisms are:

  • ADSL over traditional Phone Lines (most common).
  • Cable (limited to cable TV areas)
  • Fibre broadband – Currently being Rolled out

Mobile Internet

When travelling away from the fixed location mobile access is used. The main access mechanisms are:

Note: Broadband is a generic term and in communications.It refers to a channel with transmission rates above 256kbits/sec but typically (UK) above 4Mbits/s (for ADSL).

ADSL Broadband over Existing Phone Lines

Connection to the Internet for home/home offices is usually accomplished with ADSL (Asymmetric digital subscriber line) which uses the existing telephone cabling infrastructure.

In the UK BT (British Telecom) provide the familiar telephone connection to most homes, and these same telephone wires are used to provide broadband internet using ADSL technology.

The broadband connection and the standard phone service share the same telephone lines without interfering with each other.

adsl-phone-lines

It is the job of the broadband filter to split the phone signal from the broadband signal.

A filter must be installed on a telephone extension that has a telephone connected.

The Internet Signal from the filter is feed into a broadband router/Hub which can be used to form a home network.

BT provide their own broadband services using these telephone lines, and must also provide access to these lines to third party providers.

Other providers that utilise these BT lines are:

  • SKY broadband
  • Talk Talk broadband
  • Virgin National Broadband

Broadband speeds quoted by providers are the maximum that is possible over an ADSL connection and the speed you actually get depend mainly on how far you are from the local telephone exchange.

Currently BT are offering ADSL broadband download speeds of 16Mb.

Cable Broadband

Cable connects you to the Internet through a coaxial cable usually using the same line as your TV service.

Cable connections offer very high connection speeds, but the connection may be shared with other users.

This means that you can experience much slower speeds due to congestion.

In the UK Virgin Media are the only suppliers of cable broadband which they market as fibre broadband.

However it is not fibre all the way to the home but fibre to the cabinet, as the last part of the connection utilises the old coaxial cable connections.

Despite this download speeds of up to 152Mbs are being offered on broadband packages.

Fibre Broadband

This is currently being rolled out in the UK by BT, and offers download speeds of 76Mbit/s.

BT offer two types depending on your location:

  • fibre to home
  • fibre to cabinet

Fibre to the home is the fastest and means that the connection from the home to the exchange is all fibre. This service require new hardware.See Preparing for install .

Fibre to the cabinet is slower than fibre to the home as the entire connection isn’t fibre but only the connection from the exchange to the street cabinet.

In the digram below cable section 1 is fibre and cable section 2 is twisted pair copper cable (old telephone lines)

fibre-cabinet

You can check the availability in your area on the BT site

Other UK Providers

Just as with ADSL broadband other operators have access to the BT fibre network and will offer fibre services that use the BT infrastructure.

Virgin Media are the only other UK provider of fibre connections.

Mobile Broadband

In the developing world were no fixed land line system is available mobile broadband is becoming the predominate method that people use to connect to the Internet.

There are more than 500 million mobile broadband subscribers and that number is growing fast.

In western countries like the UK mobile broadband is usually used by people who travel frequently, and is often a secondary access mechanism, and not the primary one.

Modern mobile phones in the UK (2012) use the 3G network (3rd generation mobile telecommunications) with speeds of several Mbit/s.

Which although much faster (speeds of 6 Kbps to 7.2 Mbps) than the earlier 2G networks it is still much slower than typical ADSL Broadband which most home users/businesses use.

There are two main mechanism used.

One uses a Internet capable mobile phone like the iphone the other uses a USB dongle (3G modem) and a laptop/tablet.

4G Broadband.

– This is currently in the initial phases of being rolled out in the UK. It uses HSPA+ access mechanism with speeds of up to 168 Mbit/s in the downlink and 22 Mbit/s in the uplink.

4G networks are expected eventually to offer download speeds of up to 1Gbits/s (LTE advanced).

4G mobile networks are designed primary for carrying data using the IP protocol.

Capability is already built into Google Nexus 7 (mobile data model) and the Nexus 4 mobile phone.

Due to the excellent speed potential 4G networks may replace fixed line networks in some rural areas.

Wireless broadband

The wireless technology used is the same as is used in home wireless networking and hence if you have laptop/pda that is equipped for connection to a home or office wireless network then it will also work on a public wireless network.

The problem with this is that it is only available only in limited areas usually public areas like airports, train stations etc, and it poses a very strong security risk see public wi-fi for more details

 

Old Methods- Not Really Used Any More

These types of access date back to the early days of the Internet and may no longer be provided by most ISPs.

Dial-Up Analogue Connection -56K

Monthly Cost: Varies from 1p per minute to £13 per month (unlimited access)

Speed: Up to 56Kbps

Hardware Requirements: 56k modem included in most modern PCs (approx. £25-£50 )

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Inexpensive
  • Wide availability
  • Using a modem ties up a phone line
  • Connection is not “always on”
  • Slowest access method
  • Security danger see rogue Internet diallers
Suitability

Basic Internet browsing and email. Not suitable if regularly downloading or uploading large files like music, video or pictures.

With the rapid adoption of ADSL dial up access is often only used as a secondary/ backup Internet access method for mobile users.

You should be vary wary of this connection type due to Rogue Internet Dialler software.

ISDN

This was the main method for high speed Internet access prior to ADSL and is now no longer used.

It is similar to dial-up, ISDN establishes a connection to your service provider when you access the Internet. However, ISDN circuits are 64-128K and fully digital.

ISDN is not easy to install and troubleshoot and requires you to have an ISDN box installed by your telephone company.

It was used by small businesses as in addition to the ISDN
line you can also use a normal telephone line at the same time . This means you can access the Internet as well as talking on the telephone.

Monthly Cost: As Analogue dial up

Speed: 64Kbps – 128Kbps

Hardware Requirements: ISDN card (£30-£60) or router ( £200-£300)

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Lets you talk and surf simultaneously.
  • Faster than 56kbps analogue
  • Suitable for attaching more than 1 PC to the Internet ( 2-6 light users)
  • difficult to setup
  • Available only in limited areas
  • Requires special termination equipment to be fitted by the telecom company at both ends of the telephone line
  • Outdated being replaced by DSL
  • Not practical for more than 6 computers (depending on usage)
  • Security danger see rogue Internet diallers
Suitability

Basic Internet browsing and email and connection sharing. Not suitable if regularly downloading or uploading very large files like music, video or pictures.

You should be vary wary of this connection type due to Rogue Internet Dialler software.

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