ISP Review - Choosing an ADSL ISP
Choosing an ADSL ISP
By: Mark Jackson - January 16th 2007 : Page 2 -of- 8
"Generally speaking, 512Kbps should be more than adequate for 90% of Internet tasks"

Understanding Speed – How fast should you go?

Most traditional dial-up modems operate at a speed of up to 56Kbps (Kilobits per second) downstream and 48Kbps (v.92 standard) upstream. This is extremely slow, with some websites taking up to a minute before they can be fully loaded. Similarly the quality of the phone line can also have a huge impact on the performance of a connection.

Thankfully ADSL is able to remove most of these frustrations through a more refined, dedicated and focused network. Consequently the minimum speed you’re likely to receive is 512Kbps downstream; upstream usually varies between 64 and 256Kbps or 400Kbps. This can be impacted by ISP performance and line quality, although generally it’s easiest to simply say – “ten times faster than a dialup modem”.

Exactly how important speed is depends on your intended surfing habits. Generally speaking, 512Kbps should be more than adequate for 90% of Internet tasks (website browsing/updating, e-mails etc.), feeling both extremely fast and effective.

However, if you’re intending to download larger quantities of data (music files, video content etc.) then 2Mbps or greater should be the aim. 2Mbps is essentially four times the speed of a 512Kbps connection and is more than adequate for most online content and downloads.

Today a growing number of ISP’s are starting to place less emphasis on speed and more on practical service usage (the data downloaded). Consequently this becomes the more important, yet complex, aspect to consider.

Understanding Usage/Data Consumption – what should I look for?

Assuming you are covered by ADSL and have decided upon a speed, now comes the difficult part – usage. Be it known by many providers simply as ‘Bandwidth Restrictions’, ‘Capping’ (Cap) or a ‘Fair Usage Policy’ (FUP), all are merely different methods of saying how much your connection can be used.

Consequently, just as one ISP could offer an unrestricted 512Kbps connection for £25 per month, so too could another restrict a 2Mbps package to 20GigaBytes (GB) downloading per month for the same price.

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