Broadband speeds are probably the first thing you think about when considering changing your service or moving to a new one. But what do broadband speeds actually mean and how can you make sure you’re getting value for money?

What does broadband speed mean for me?

Broadband speed is usually measured in Megabits per second (Mbps), although slower connections are sometimes measured in Kilobits per second (kbps). Basically, these measure the number of bits (the smallest unit of information) that you can transfer per second. The higher the number of Mbps, the faster the connection and the more data you can transfer. With a faster broadband connection, you can have more users and access demanding services more quickly – such as streaming video or downloading large files without having to wait too long.

How are broadband speeds advertised?

Broadband speeds are usually advertised as ‘up to XMbps’. That’s because broadband speed is different for every user, since there are quite a few different factors that affect what you can receive, including:
  • How far you are from the exchange. Usually, the closer you are, the higher the speed you’ll receive.
  • The quality of your phone line.
  • Weather. Storms and heavy rain can seriously affect your broadband speed.
  • Electrical interference. Some electrical appliances (like TVs, lighting and power cables) produce interference that can reduce your broadband speed.
  • The time of the day. At peak times, when there are a lot of users sharing the same connection, it can slow right down.
In recent years, changes in technology have meant a smaller proportion of users can actually get the headline broadband speeds advertised. So in 2012, the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice set out new guidelines. The guidelines only allow providers to advertise broadband speeds that at least 10% of their customers can get. As a result, a lot of broadband providers have had to lower their headline speeds, sometimes quite significantly.

Check before you buy

So you don’t get a nasty surprise, make sure you find out what sort of broadband speed you could get before you sign up to a new service. Choose a provider that will give you a speed estimate based on your location and how close to the exchange you are, like Demon’s broadband speed availability checker.

To make sure you’re getting even better value as well as fast, reliable broadband, take a look at Demon’s range of business broadband packages.