There are two main types of broadband: fibre optic, and ADSL. Fibre optic broadband is the faster of the two, but what exactly is ADSL? And is it the right type of broadband for you? Here’s everything you need to know…
What is ADSL broadband?
ADSL stands for ‘asymmetric digital subscriber line’. It essentially means basic broadband you can get through a telephone line, delivered via the same copper wires that connect your home phone.
The ‘asymmetric’ bit of its name refers to the difference in download and upload speeds - while download speeds average about 11Mb, upload speeds are much lower - averaging between 2-3Mb.
BT owns the UK’s landline infrastructure, so your ADSL broadband will connect through a BT exchange - whether you get a package from BT or another provider that uses the Openreach network.
Which providers offer ADSL broadband?
Most of the major providers in the UK have ADSL packages available, including BT, TalkTalk and Plusnet.
Take a look at broadband from:
The exact providers and packages available, however, will vary depending on your location. Use our postcode checker to find out exactly what you can get in your area.
Why should I get ADSL broadband?
First, it’s widely available. Unlike fibre optic broadband, ADSL connections are available pretty much everywhere - if there’s a phone line in your home, you can almost certainly get basic broadband too.
As well as that, it’s generally cheaper than fibre optic. Though download speeds may not be the fastest around, 10 - 17Mb is more than enough to handle most basic online tasks - like browsing the web, sending emails, and streaming a bit of music and video. That said, if you have a large family, with lots of people online at the same time, you should probably look towards fibre optic broadband if you can get it, as the extra speed will ensure a smoother experience for everyone.
Most providers also have ADSL packages available with unlimited downloads, so you can transfer files, watch Netflix, and post pictures to Facebook without fear of hitting a download cap.
What other types of broadband are available?
Depending where you live, there may be different kinds of broadband available to you too – like Fibre optic broadband, Cable broadband and wireless broadband.
Here's what each has to offer:
Fibre optic broadband is much faster and more reliable than ADSL, and means you can download big files in a jiffy, watch HD video, and get the whole family online at the same time. However, it’s often more expensive than ADSL, and isn’t nearly as widely available. Read more about fibre optic broadband.
Cable broadband is delivered through ‘coaxial cable’, and in the UK it’s only available from Virgin Media. It’s super speedy and delivers TV as well as internet, but is even less widespread than fibre and often quite costly. Read more about Virgin Media broadband.
Another option is wireless broadband, which operates over 4G - like a mobile phone network. Wireless is ideal for areas where broadband struggles to reach, like remote rural villages or big tower blocks, but isn’t nearly as reliable as a wired connection and often has usage caps. Read more about wireless broadband.