BroadbandBroadband Types (Explained)

There are a few different types of broadband internet out there, and not all of us have access to the full range. If you’re confused about the difference between the connection types, don’t worry—you’re not alone.

Distinguishing the differences, benefits, and drawbacks of the types of broadband internet can be difficult if you don’t know about them. In this guide, we’ll give you an overview of each broadband type and who may benefit the most from each.

ADSL Broadband Explained

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, or ADSL, is one of the most common broadband technologies used in the country.

ADSL and the newer ADSL2+ are among the oldest forms of internet connection in Australia. ADSL uses the same copper phone lines that have been in place for years and is therefore available to most homes with an internet connection.

The internet connection is separated from the phone line with a DSL filter. Before this installation, the internet connection and phone line would interrupt one another when the other was in use.

While ADSL2+ is widely available and cheap, it’s the least powerful broadband connection of the bunch. Your download speeds will usually max out around 24 Mbps, which is often the lowest speed tier for some other types of broadband internet.

Who is ADSL For?

Replacing the current infrastructure in multi-dwelling units like apartment buildings is time-consuming and costly.. New buildings may be able to access an FTTP connection, but existing apartment buildings will have to settle for Fibre to the Building, or FTTB.

The NBN node is be located at the bottom – often in the basement – of the apartment building. The fibre optic cable connects from the street to this node.

From there, the current copper cable takes your connection the rest of the way, and distributes it to each resident of the building.

FTTB connections use VDSL2 technology, so you’ll need a VDSL2 modem to have access to the network. Most newer modems are equipped with this technology, and your internet service provider should be able to provide you with one.

Naked DSL

DSL, or Digital Subscriber Line, is a large category that includes ADSL and ADSL2+ connections. DSL technology is older, but some households still choose naked DSL as an internet option.

Naked DSL provides a similar connection as ADSL, but it doesn’t include a landline phone. Instead, you will only receive a broadband connection in your home.

While this stripped-down plan doesn’t speed up your internet connection, it may be cheaper than ADSL2+ plans since you’re not paying for home phone plans. However, it is less common and may be more costly to install.


Cable Broadband Explained

Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC), otherwise known as cable internet, is one of the fastest internet connections you can receive. Speeds often top out at 100 Mbps.

Cable broadband connects homes to a local grid, using similar copper wires as ADSL connections. These wires are insulated, so there’s no interruption or interference from phone lines when you use cable connections.

You can usually find a cable connection for around the same price as a standalone ADSL2+ plan. Your provider will usually give you a cable modem that allows you to connect to the internet and enjoy faster speeds.

Of course, your maximum speeds depend on a number of factors. Your location, the hardware condition, and the time of day all dictate what download speeds your cable connections have. Still, cable proves much faster than ADSL2+, even in the worst conditions.

Who is Cable For?

Unfortunately, cable isn’t as widely available as ADSL2+. Many residents don’t have the option to select cable internet, and whether or not you can receive a cable connection depends on where you live.

Your location will also determine which provider you can use, which means there may not be much of a choice when it comes to choosing a plan.

Cable often requires an installation fee if your home isn’t already cable-ready. The plans might not cost much more than ADSL2+, but you will have to pay an upfront cost for a connection.

Cable connections are best for those who want the fastest internet out there. Top tier NBN connections (more on this ahead) typically reach the same maximum download speed as cable, though they look to far surpass them in the future.


Wireless Broadband Explained

Home wireless broadband is an interesting broadband option that has only recently started to become viable.

You’ve probably seen wireless devices, sometimes called WiFi hotspots, advertised as mobile broadband options. Since these devices have become more powerful, some internet users are buying them specifically for home use.

These connections work in the same way as the 4G connection on your smartphone. This is both a positive and a negative for home wireless broadband.

On one hand, the plans are relatively inexpensive, and you can take the connection with you. On the other, wireless connections of this nature can be unreliable. As a rule of thumb, you can only get coverage in places where you can get mobile phone coverage.

Who is Wireless Broadband For?

Wireless broadband is best for those who don’t spend much time using the internet at home. You’ll be able to stream TV and movies in the best conditions, but these conditions won’t always stay the same.

Wireless connections are susceptible to a host of environmental factors; including location, weather, and local traffic. Using wireless as a primary form of home internet simply isn’t as reliable as any other wired alternative.

Sure, you will be able to exceed ADSL2+ connection speeds in ideal conditions, but ADSL2+ is far more consistent.


Fibre Broadband Explained

You may have come across fibre broadband through the National Broadband Network (NBN) which is currently being installed across much of the country.

Fibre connections use fibreoptic cables to reliably and sustainably bring an internet connection to your home. These fibre wires are much more durable and reliable than copper wires are, which is why the original plans for the NBN aimed to make this technology the national standard.

However, fibre connections are expensive and can take time to install. The NBN was scaled back to include a mix of connections, including fibre and copper wires. Once the NBN infrastructure is finally in place, plans should be cheaper than traditional cable due to the lack of required maintenance.

Some copper cables and fixed wireless connection will still be in effect in some rural locations once the NBN is finished, but the internet is sparse out there as it is.

Who is Fibre Broadband For?

Fibre broadband is for almost everyone. Some locations have yet to receive the fibre upgrade, but once they do they’ll be able to connect to the plan of their choice.

NBN connections have tiers, so you can choose to pay lower costs for lower speeds or higher costs for higher speeds.

The current fibre connection maxes out at around 100 Mbps, though this is likely to change in the future. Fibre cables have high potential, and maximum speeds could continue to increase.

Broadband Types Pros Cons
ADSL2+ Inexpensive
Widely available
Slow speeds
Can interfere with phone lines
Cable Fast connection
Not too expensive
Not available to all
Costly installation
Wireless Widely available
Spotty service and unreliable
Fibre Very fast connection
Options to fit your needs
Widely available
Higher ends can be expensive

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