One of the most important issues you will face when deciding on a broadband provider is the speed of the connection you will get. This relates to the bandwidth available and the amount of data that you can download and upload in a particular period.
This is effectively the speed at which your broadband can download information such as music files, video clips, email attachments and other kinds of data. It also involves the question of how fast your broadband internet connection sends data back to a server, which is crucial for lovers of online gaming and those who make internet phone calls.
These bandwidth capabilities are published by all internet service providers (ISPs) and help to determine the plan users choose as best for them.
Results for the actual broadband speed on your own PC or laptop will significantly vary depending on how busy the network is at any particular time of day and day of the week. ISPs often let more people use their network than it can really cope with at the advertised download speeds. The speeds that they claim that they can provide are often only available during quiet periods when not all of their customers are on the network at once and they are not using the maximum download capabilities available.
Very fast broadband is becoming extremely important for businesses, many of which relay heavily on the internet. Many county councils throughout Britain are taking advantage of a £530 million government fund which has made grants in Kent and many other counties available. There is also a £2.5bn BT scheme to improve broadband speeds.
If you want to check how fast your connection is, taking a simple broadband speed test is usually free, with several websites offering this service. It takes around 10-20 seconds.
The speed checkers send a file to your computer and measure how long your connection takes to download it. The size of the file will be different according to the type of service you have. This provides an accurate measurement of your broadband capacity. You may be asked beforehand to enter your postcode, whether you are a home or business user, the type of connection you have and brief details about your ISP. Then you simply click to run the speed test.
Running speed tests at different times of the day on the same PC or laptop will produce different results, which can be stored and compared. You will find that they correlate with peak hours and network demands.