Broadband Internet providers offer different connection options to subscribers, with ADSL, VDSL and UFB or fibre being popular options in many parts of the world. Understanding the differences between these options will help you choose the coverage that best supports your Internet use.
Short for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, ADSL is a type of DSL connection that utilizes the frequencies on regular copper phone lines that aren’t taken up by voice calls. The advantage of this kind of connection is that it doesn’t require any special lines to be installed, so it’s less expensive and more available than other forms of broadband. With ADSL, you can get up to 24 Mbps download speed, but upload speeds are much more limited. Both speeds are affected by the condition of the wires, the distance between your home and the provider’s location and any noise or interference on the line. Living “upstream” from your Internet provider is likely going to mean you get inferior service to those who live “downstream,” hence why this connection is known as asymmetrical. Better speeds are attainable with ADSL2+, a newer generation of ADSL connection available to those living within two kilometers of an exchange.
Very-high-bitrate Digital Subscriber Line service is closer to cable Internet in speed and behavior than ADSL. It can be up to five times faster for downloads and ten times faster for uploads. Maximum upload speeds hover around 60 Mbps if you live close to the provider, and the signal is just as strong upstream as it is downstream. VDSL accomplishes this with more efficient use of phone lines achieved through a configuration that effectively shortens the distance that the signal has to travel. Shorter distances means less degradation and a more reliable connection. A higher amount of available bandwidth delivers better overall performance than ADSL can offer. However, distance and wire condition can still affect VDSL.
Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB), also known as fibre Internet, is popping up in many places and drawing attention with its promise of the potential for as much as 1 Gbps for both uploads and downloads. Although speeds around 300 Mbps are more common, UFB still has a lot of potential for households and businesses that require superior Internet performance. UFB bypasses phone lines and uses smaller, lighter fiber optic cables with glass conductors. These conductors transmit light signals rather than electricity, so they aren’t subject to interference from electrical wires or damage from lightning strikes. This results in one of the clearest, most consistent broadband connections you can get, but the cost of installing these cables means that you’ll pay more for the experience. Those living in rural areas may not have access to UFB at all. If you can find a provider in your area, however, the speed and reliability of a fibre connection makes it perfect for users that transmit high amounts of data, especially digital media, on a regular basis. Unlike DSL connections, you get the same level of performance regardless of location.
Choosing the Best Broadband Option
Availability and pricing are the biggest factors when choosing between ADSL, VDSL and UFB for your Internet connection. Start by researching what’s available in your area, keeping in mind that DSL connections will degrade the farther you are from a provider. Next, consider what type of Internet user you are. If you only check email and social networks, ADSL will be more than enough to meet your needs. Streaming any kind of media requires at least a VDSL connection. VDSL is also a cost-effective choice for small businesses running internal networks. For heavy users and households or businesses where multiple computers or devices are accessing large amounts of data on a daily basis, UFB provides the best performance.
Once you know which broadband connection is right for you, shop around to find the best deal possible. Look at what different providers offer in terms of rates and packages, and beware of prices that seem too good to be true. The dominant telecom companies (like Spark and Vodafone) are not always the best option, so consider all the competition. Smaller broadband providers like Trustpower also provide a great service. Finding the right connection at a price that fits your budget ensures that you’ll get the most out of the time you spend on the Internet.