Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Different types of broadband


The fastest option available in Australia is currently ADSL2, which stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. It is the latest form of DSL, a broadband technology which uses existing telephone lines to transmit information.

DSL requires a special modem to translate the information between the telephone line and your computer. DSL modems are usually offered as part of your internet service contract, but this is starting to change as people hang on to their modems from previous contracts. Keep an eye out for providers who offer modems as an optional purchase if you already have one.

To use DSL and your telephone line simultaneously, you will need to install a line filter on each phone in the house. These cost around $20 and are easy to set up. If you have more than four phones or a security alarm system, a more elaborate solution may be required.

DSL is now the fastest system on offer as advances to the core technology have seen it surpass traditional cable broadband when it comes to raw speed. ADSL2 is the latest and fastest type of DSL, but it isn't available everywhere. Some providers also have different names for it (for example, Optus call it "DSL Direct") so make sure to check with them.


While ADSL2 has left traditional cable broadband services looking like a second-placed runner in the race for speed, cable is still worth considering. You should look out for keen plan pricing as competition between service providers increases.

Cable broadband uses pay-TV infrastructure (cabling, exchanges and so on) to transmit information, and prior to the launch of ADSL2 it was the fastest type of broadband on offer.

As with DSL, you will need a different type of modem to use cable broadband, and cable lines will have to be installed with a junction box at your address. Getting cable can be difficult if you are renting a property – especially an apartment – as some providers will refuse to perform the installation.


It's easy to get confused when people talk about wireless internet, because the term is often used for different things. Here we'll separate it into two parts: wireless internet access, and wireless networking (or Wi-Fi).

Wi-Fi is a simple way of sharing a fixed broadband connection (like DSL or cable) in your home without using cables. It's becoming more popular, especially with families who use more than one computer. Wi-Fi is also available at some cafes and bars.

Then there is wireless internet access provided by satellite and mobile networks. Satellite broadband is expensive and is usually more popular in places where access to DSL or cable broadband is limited. It offers fast download speeds, but very slow upload speeds and should only be considered in areas without the right infrastructure for other types of broadband.

The third-generation mobile phone network, known as 3G, allows users to access the internet at high speeds. It is used mainly by mobile phones, and now most mobile networks are offering 3G modems for computers too. This makes internet access highly portable, but the data charges are still quite pricey in comparison to ADSL and cable plans.

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