ADSL Broadband

When it comes to broadband options, two of the most common choices are fibre optic and ADSL.

While you may already be familiar with the lightning-fast speeds of fibre (*add in link to our fibre broadband page*), let's take a closer look at ADSL.

ADSL broadband, (or Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line), is a basic broadband option that many UK homes have access to. It operates through the home phone line and is popular for its affordability and straightforward installation process.

What Exactly is ADSL Broadband?

ADSL relies on the copper wires in your landline for connectivity. Because it's wired, ADSL can sometimes be less reliable, with the speed of your connection depending on how far you are from the telephone exchange.

How Does ADSL Broadband Work?

ADSL broadband utilises the traditional copper telephone wire network managed by Openreach to deliver connectivity to your home. To segregate your internet and phone line connections, a microfilter is inserted into your phone connection, enabling seamless web browsing even while someone is using the phone.

Speeds of ADSL broadband can fluctuate based on the distance between your home and the telephone exchange, with speed diminishing over greater distances. Additionally, factors like weather conditions and faults in the aging copper network can impact the connection's stability. In the UK, over 95% of ADSL lines belong to the second-generation type, known as ADSL+.

In 2021, ADSL speeds exhibited significant disparities depending on geographical location. Urban areas recorded an average speed of 14.7Mbps, surpassing rural areas where speeds averaged 6.2Mbps. The maximum attainable speed with ADSL broadband caps at 24Mbps.

Should I Consider ADSL?

A few years back, ADSL was the go-to internet connection for most of the UK. In some locations, particularly more rural areas, it still remains more accessible and affordable than fibre *will add in new fibre broadband page link*. It’s also often the most reasonable plan offering dependable speeds to smaller, less internet-reliant homes. However, fibre availability is growing consistently. Openreach is planning to phase out copper lines from its infrastructure by 2026, bringing full fibre to 25 million homes and businesses.

How to Get ADSL

Provided that you have a connected home phone, setting up ADSL is simple.

Regardless of your provider, you'll be renting your phone line from Openreach, which manages the landline infrastructure in the UK. If you have only one socket for both broadband and telephone lines, a microfilter can separate the connections. Your broadband provider should assist with this setup. Once connected, you're ready to go.

When choosing an ADSL package, compare providers and prices to find one that fits your needs. Consider your internet usage and required speed. If you're unsure, learn more about selecting the best broadband deal for your household.

Ready to explore ADSL options? Search deals and prices with us to find the perfect package for you.

Alternative Broadband Options to ADSL

If you're fed up with sluggish ADSL connections, it's time to explore better broadband alternatives that offer faster speeds and improved reliability.

Upgrade to Fibre Optic: Say goodbye to buffering and slow downloads with fibre optic broadband. Whether it's delivered to a street cabinet or directly to your home, fibre brings lightning-fast speeds that'll transform your online experience. Yes, it may come with a higher price tag, but the benefits are worth it.

Embrace Satellite Broadband: Even if you're in the most remote areas, you don't have to settle for subpar internet. Satellite broadband provides a lifeline, ensuring you stay connected no matter where you are. While it may not match fibre speeds, it's a reliable solution for those off the beaten path.

Key Considerations to Make About ADSL:
  • Speed Check: Ensure the chosen deal aligns with the available internet speed in your area. You can explore this online.
  • Speed Test: If you’re unsure what sort of internet speed you need, or how fast your current plan is, you can run a quick speed test for free online.
  • Ditch the Caps: Don't let download limits cramp your online style. Opt for unlimited download packages to enjoy seamless internet browsing, streaming, and gaming.
  • Explore All Options: Don't settle for less. Compare different broadband deals to find the perfect fit for your needs, whether it's speed, reliability, or affordability you're after.

What Online Activities are Suitable for ADSL Broadband?

Considering the internet usage patterns in your household, ADSL speeds may suffice, but it's essential to account for everyone's requirements. Here are some common online tasks that ADSL can handle adequately:

  • Streaming Services: With typical speeds averaging around 10.7Mbps in 2021, ADSL broadband can support streaming services like Netflix or BBC iPlayer. For instance, Netflix recommends a speed of 3Mbps for SD quality and up to 5Mbps for HD.
  • Browsing: ADSL speeds are generally sufficient for browsing webpages, updating social media, and online shopping.
  • Music Streaming: ADSL speeds are suitable for streaming music on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, with 320Kbit/s being the maximum requirement for streaming music at the highest quality on Spotify Premium.
  • App Downloads: While the download time may vary based on file size, ADSL is typically adequate for downloading most apps. However, downloading games may take longer, prompting consideration for an upgrade if gaming is a priority.
  • Remote Work: ADSL is suitable for tasks like checking emails and working on online documents, however, it might not be as fast as fibre broadband for sending and receiving large attachments. It also supports video conferencing via Zoom or Skype, provided there aren't multiple users simultaneously. For a group video call with 1080p HD video, download speeds of 3.8Mbps and upload speeds of 3.0Mbps are sufficient.

What Activities are not Suitable For ADSL Broadband?

Despite its capabilities, ADSL broadband may not suffice for households with multiple connected devices or simultaneous users engaging in high-bandwidth activities. Here are some limitations to consider:

  • Simultaneous Streaming: ADSL speeds may not support concurrent streaming on multiple devices. Tasks like watching BBC iPlayer, listening to Spotify, and streaming Netflix simultaneously may strain ADSL connections..
  • 4K Ultra HD Streaming: ADSL may struggle with 4K Ultra HD video streaming due to the recommended 15Mbps for stable quality on platforms like Netflix, surpassing average ADSL speeds.
  • Large File Downloads: While technically feasible, downloading large files over ADSL broadband may be time-consuming. Consider opting for a faster connection to avoid prolonged download times and frustration.
Our Expert Opinion

ADSL broadband continues to play a crucial role in bridging the digital divide and providing essential internet access to communities across the UK. Its affordability and widespread availability make it a valuable option for many households, especially those in areas where alternative broadband technologies may not be accessible.

However, it's essential to acknowledge some limitations. One notable drawback is its reliance on existing telephone infrastructure, which can result in slower speeds compared to fibre optic connections. Additionally, the distance from the nearest telephone exchange can impact the quality of the connection, leading to potential fluctuations in speed and reliability.

We believe that unless you’re facing limited availability of fibre in your area, you shouldn’t confine yourself to outdated ADSL connections.

Step into the future with broadband solutions that deliver speed, reliability, and unmatched performance - without the need for a landline phone!

FAQs about broadband

According to Ofcom, the average broadband speed across the UK was 69.4 Mbit/s in March 2023.

Here’s how the three main broadband types compare on download speeds:

Broadband Type Max Speed (Broadband speeds)
ADSL 10.7Mbps
Cable 111.1Mbps
Fibre (Fibre To The Cabinet) 42.6Mbps
Full Fibre (Fibre To The Premises) 145.4Mbps

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) is a type of broadband technology where fibre optic cables are used to connect the telephone exchange to a street cabinet, which is typically located on the roadside. From there, traditional copper cables are used to connect the cabinet to individual homes and businesses.

Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) is a type of broadband technology where fibre optic cables are directly connected to individual homes or businesses, bypassing the need for a street cabinet. This setup allows for faster and more reliable internet speeds because the entire connection from the exchange to the premises is made using fibre optic cables, which can transmit data at high speeds over long distances without degradation.

ADSL+, also known as ADSL2, is the second generation of ADSL. It offers twice the bandwidth along the same traditional copper phone lines used by a standard ADSL connection. This allows for speeds of up to 24Mbps.

It's important to note that ADSL+ operates at a higher frequency to achieve faster speeds, which can result in a more noticeable drop-off in speed over longer distances. Therefore, the true benefits of ADSL+ are more noticeable for those closer to the street cabinet.

Yes, a microfilter is necessary during ADSL broadband installation. It is plugged into your phone connection to enable simultaneous internet browsing and phone line usage. Since ADSL broadband shares the same copper wires for internet and phone connections, the microfilter helps to separate these connections.

ADSL is widely accessible across the UK, thanks to Openreach’s extensive network of phone lines. However, availability may vary in extremely remote areas. While major broadband providers typically offer ADSL connections, some specialised providers focusing on fibre to the premises (FTTP) may not offer standard ADSL broadband.

ADSL broadband is generally more affordable, but pricing depends on various factors, including broadband speed, bundled services, and the provider. Combining TV, broadband, and home phone services into a single package may offer cost savings.

Use our online broadband speed checker to determine available speeds in your area. It compares speeds from local users and identifies providers delivering those speeds. While ADSL broadband is widespread, cable and fibre options are still expanding, so availability may vary.

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