Breaking down broadband

As part of its plans to bring fibre broadband to 96% of Cheshire, Connecting Cheshire recently revealed the areas that are part of the first stage of their plans. As part of a £28.5million deal with BT, the network will be expanded to over 80,000 premises across the county so that everyone can be ‘Superfast’. However, for those amongst us who aren’t tech savvy all of the information and jargon can be a bit confusing, so we have produce a broadband guide, answering the most important questions. 

What is fibre Broadband?

Superfast internet will arrive for many by the end of 2015. Photo: Flickr/

Superfast internet will arrive for many by the end of 2015. Photo: Flickr/

Broadband is a method of connecting to the internet. Unlike the traditional telephone and modem method used in the past, broadband is a high bandwidth connection, so information can be sent and downloaded much quicker as a result.

Fibre broadband replaces the old copper telephone wires with new fibre cable optic cable. With copper cables, there is an element of information loss the further it has to travel, whereas this is not a problem with fibre optic cables.

What are megabits per second?

Megabits per second, or Mbps, are the industry standard way of testing how fast an internet connection is. Your download speed is most important here, as it shows the pace at which data is transferred from another source to your device. For example, if your download speed is 5Mbps then you will download five megabits of information per second.

How fast is Fibre Broadband?

Internet speeds depend on where you live. However, to put it into perspective, Virgin Media says a 100Mbps connection will allow you to download a 60MB music album in 6 seconds, a 350MB TV show in 30 seconds, a 1GB movie in 1.5 minutes or a 4GB HD movie in 6 minutes. Don’t get your hopes up though; Chester’s average speed is around 16Mbps at the moment, though it will improve with these planned improvements.

How do I know if I’ll go ‘Superfast?’

Again, it all depends on where you live. If you happen to live in a very remote area, your internet speeds are unlikely to be very high as it is hard to get fast internet to these areas, although there are plans afoot to improve this. If you live in a more built up location, the chances are that superfast broadband could soon be upon you as infrastructure is already in place or improved as part of the plans.

To take advantage of the new speeds however, you will have to contact your internet provider to discuss any upgrades in your plan. Connecting Cheshire’s roll-out map shows where and when superfast broadband will arrive and can be accessed here: www.connectingcheshire.org.uk

How will these works affect me?

BT’s plan is to cause as little disruption as possible, often carrying out works during the night to minimise disruption. However, as these plans will involve having to improve old copper wiring, there is a chance that some disruption will be caused.

Chester Intelligencer reporter, Sean Lunt

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