Broadband Compare UK News & Blogs

Common Broadband Terms Jargon Buster Part 1

Rinky Dink Inc

Broadband can be a complex world for some, especially those new to the field. When choosing your broadband service provider, it can be a foreign language to those not familiar with technology. The purpose of the list below is to try and provide a guide of sorts to absolute newbies to broadband.


This stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line and is part of a group of technology known as DSL. You may have heard people refer to a broadband line as a DSL line. ADSL itself allows for speeds of up to 8mb per second whereas ADSL 2+ allows for speeds of up to 24mb. The Asymmetric part refers to the different download and upload speeds. ADSL is the most common type of broadband and is available through the likes of Sky Broadband and BT Broadband.

Fibre Optic

Fibre optic is a modern technology of transferring data though a cable made from flexible fibres of glass to transmit light signals. Compared to standard copper wires, fibre optic broadband lines can transfer much more data and at higher speeds. Fibre optic is not available everywhere in the UK yet but a lot of the country can currently access it. The reason behind it taking a long time to install is due to the cost of the protection of the glass fibre. They require more protection than copper and therefore it costs more to install.


This is the term uses to describe the amount of data you can receive over your broadband connection. Usually, measure in Megabytes, this is a term used to describe the limits of your connection depending on what broadband package you have signed up for.


This is a technology that is used to transmit data over the air. In order to send and receive data via WiFi, the device must have a WiFi antenna. This is often why you will see a lot of newer broadband routers with antennas sticking up at the back. Others may have hidden antennas; however, the majority of broadband routers will have wifi enabled as standard.

Contention Ratio

This is the term used to describe to the number of computers or access points that can share the same connection from a broadband service provider. Most ADSL broadband packages have a contention ratio of 50:1 meant that you might be sharing your connection with up to 49 other people. This is where you may notice a slow down during peak hours. It is possible to have a lower contention ratio with some providers, especially if you are using your broadband for business. It is worth asking your broadband provider what contention ratio they offer on each of their broadband packages to decide which would suit you’re the best.


This is often used to describe the type of connection your network uses. Most networks will connect using wither Ethernet cables or Wi-Fi, and Ethernet cables can be used to connect computers directly or through a router. This does not have to be connected to the Internet however and is often used to describe a Local Area Network (LAN).


A firewall is a piece of software or firmware that is used to stop others accessing your devices without your authentication. Firewalls come in all shapes and sizes and often there are firewalls that use their own hardware. Firewalls are important to any network whether home or business. However, the extent of security you require will be down to your individual needs. You can access firewall settings on your router, and this will prevent certain traffic from entering your network. This is a different firewall to the firewall software you can purchase from the likes of Norton Antivirus and Mcafee. Software installed on your PC will protect that device only and is an extra layer of security.

IP Address

This stands for Internet Protocol Address. An IP Address is essentially like the address of your house and is used to find a particular computer or device. Each device will have its own IP, and that IP address may not always stay the same. Most broadband providers will give you a dynamic IP address, which means that it will change each time you log in to your broadband connection. A static IP can be purchased from most broadband providers, and this can be useful if you need to access a particular device from an external source frequently. An example might be when you need to access a CCTV system away from home.


This stands for Integrated Services Digital Network and has now mostly been replaced with ADSL broadband and Fibre Optic Broadband. This was a service that could offer speeds of up to 128kbps which is far too slow for most uses of the Internet today.

Dial-Up Internet

This was a popular form of Internet access in the 80’s and 90’s and was around until the mid 2000’s before broadband took over due to its higher speeds. Dial up broadband was a type of internet access that used you telephone and dialed a number to gain access. Often synonymous with the infamous modem dial up sounds.


This is used to measure the speed of your Internet in Kilobytes (1000 bytes) although most Internet connections are described in MB or GB due to the superior speeds available


Again used to measure the speed of your broadband connection. MB is the most common measure of speed today as this is the capabilities of a connection currently, although it is expected to increase and soon may be GBps


This website or its third party tools use cookies, which are necessary to its functioning and required to achieve the purposes illustrated in the cookie policy. By tapping on "I accept" you agree to the use of cookies.  I accept