How fast is a BT Broadband connection?

Published 17/05/2004 17:57   |    Updated 01/10/2009 15:56
How fast is a BT Broadband connection?

 

Bitstream

Download (kbps)

Upload (kbps)

Contention Ratio

Option 1

Up to 1024 (1Mb)

Up to 128

48:1

Option 2

Up to 3072 (3Mb)

Up to 384

48:1

Option 3

Up to 7616 (7.6Mb)

Up to 672

12:1

 

 

As part of BT's network investment, existing customers can avail of BT Broadband at speeds of up to 24Mb in a number of telephone exchange areas. In these so called LLU enabled exchanges the following speeds are available.

 

LLU

Download (kbps)

Upload (kbps)

Contention Ratio

Option 1

Up to 1024 (1Mb)

Up to 128

48:1

Option 2

Up to 6144 (6Mb)

Up to 512

48:1

Option 3

Up to 24384 (24Mb)

Up to 1024

48:1

 

The maximum upload speed for an Up to 24Mb BT Broadband connection is up to 1Mb. Broadband connections that synchronise at 8Mb or below will have an upload speed of up to 512kbps.

 

These broadband speeds compare with a normal telephone Internet connection of 56kbps in both directions. BT Broadband vastly improves download time, web browsing and audio and video playing when compared with a dial-up Internet connection.

 

Broadband speeds are subject to survey, compatibility and availability. Up to 24Mb can only be achieved in certain locations. In all other locations the maximum speed for Option 3 is Up to 7.6Mb.

 

Actual speed is subject to distance from exchange and line quality. BT will provide the maximum broadband speed that the customer’s phone line can support. If you think there may be a problem with the speed of your broadband connection click here for some troubleshooting tips.

 


 

1024kbps? 3Mb? What do the numbers mean? What speed do I need?

 

When we're talking about Internet connection speeds, things can be really confusing! For a start, Internet transfer speeds are measured in kilobits per second and megabits per second, and those are not the same as the kilobytes and megabytes we use when we're talking about hard disks and files.

 

Let's not worry about the numbers. What matters is how they apply to the kinds of things you'll do on the Internet. Here's a table to make it simple:


Internet Connection Speed Time to load a typical web page
(assuming 100 kilobytes of data)
Time to download a typical 4 minute song (assuming a 4 megabyte MP3 file) Streaming Video Quality
56K dial-up modem 14 seconds 10 minutes
1Mb broadband 0.8 seconds 38 seconds
2Mb broadband 0.4 seconds 20 seconds Medium Quality
3Mb broadband 0.2 sec 12.5 seconds
6Mb broadband Instantaneous 6 seconds
24Mb broadband Instantaneous Instantaneous TV Quality
Note: all figures are approximate and represent best-case download speeds. Actually speeds will generally be lower.

 

So you can see that an entry level 1Mb broadband Internet connection is around twenty times faster than a 56K dial-up Internet connection, allowing you to view web pages with barely any noticeable delay, whereas with an 24Mb broadband connection, you could watch TV quality video over the web!

 

Any of the broadband speeds will be perfectly good for viewing the majority of web pages - having to wait a second or two for a page to load is perfectly acceptable. But the Internet is so much more than just pages of text and a few images: what about music, video, animations, games and all the other stuff that makes the Internet so much fun?

 

Consider the download time for a typical 4 minute pop song - around 40 seconds with a 1Mb connection. The time it takes to download is less than the time it takes the song to play. What this means in practice is that your computer will be able to play the song while it downloads. We call this streaming - the sound 'streams' to your computer fast enough that it can be played as it arrives, without all that waiting around.

 

Streaming also applies to video. You'll find that many web sites allow you to watch video, even live video, without having to wait around for more than a few seconds for it to start. In many cases video is offered in two or more different sizes or at different qualities - so that you can choose the one that plays best with your connection speed. Having a faster connection means you can watch the video at a larger size and better quality.

 

And what about gaming? Well, it depends on the type of game. For those of us who want to play a little backgammon or a card game on a wet afternoon, any kind of broadband connection will work fine.

 

If however you're one of those people who want to take on the world at Halo 3 or Call of Duty 4, or connect your XBox 360 or PS3 to the Internet, you may want to consider going for the fastest connection you can practically afford: playing first-person shooters is one of the most demanding ways to use a broadband Internet connection. But don't worry too much - you to upgrade to a faster connection at any time (you'll just pay a higher monthly charge).

 

See also: Understanding the BT Broadband monthly data download allowance

Understanding BT Broadband Contention Ratios

 

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