The latest generation of broadband is known as superfast broadband, and although there have been various definitions of the term, essentially it refers to broadband that is delivered at speeds that are very much faster than those that are supplied by ADSL over copper telephone lines which is rarely very much faster than 10 to 12 Mbps and often considerably slower.
Effectively superfast broadband is delivered at speeds that are associated with fibre optic cable and other high speed technologies such as satellite, mobile networks using 4G technologies, and the latest VHSDL copper technologies. Here there are significant differences between the speeds that can be achieved theoretically and in the laboratory, and the actual speeds that people see at their homes and at their businesses. In a nutshell, today when we say superfast broadband we are referring to speeds of between 80 and 160 Mbps.
There are two ways of delivering superfast broadband to homes and businesses. The lowest cost solution is terminating the fibre optic cable in a cabinet in the street, and then completing the connection, often called the final mile, between the cabinet and the user by copper wires which make use of the latest high speed copper technologies such as VHSDSL, though the solution that provides the fastest broadband speeds is to provide fibre optic cable right to the point of use; this is also the most expensive solution.
There is also a compromise solution that falls between these two in both price and performance and that is to terminate the fibre optic cable at the cabinet as in the first example, and to complete the final mile using passive cable. Effectively this means that everyone on any particular passive cable network mush share a single broadband connection, but the result is still a faster connection that would be achieved through copper.
So what are the benefits of superfast broadband?
The business user will enjoy increased productivity; a more reliable service; access to cloud computing services; internet video conferencing saving time spent on face to face meetings; and an overall increase in business efficiency and a reduction in overheads.
For the Virgin home broadband users the important benefits include the ability to quickly download movies, music, video and TV and to upload videos and play online games; to enjoy broadband packages that provide a fast and reliable service even when several members of a household are online; hold video calls with friends and family; enjoy on demand TV; the potential to work from home and maybe start your own home based business.