[Broadband Guide Page  1]

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A beginners guide to Broadband - in very easy stages.

The word broadband isn’t very self-explanatory but is basically the way your current supplier delivers the two way communications between your home computer or smart tv and the internet.

Hopefully, this story will help to introduce how we got the poor broadband we use now and what should be available here soon....

Many, many, years ago, if you wanted water, you went to a stream and collected it in a bucket.
Later, wells were sunk nearer to homes and water was pumped up by hand into your churn.
The water was then used for cooking and washing for the family or small community.

Businesses had the money and land to build their factories nearer to rivers and get water for other purposes. Obviously cooking large quantities of food, washing and dyeing cotton goods after weaving; and more importantly, using water to power mills to do the weaving more cheaply. A small local investment in infrastructure then grew into businesses finding many uses of the water.

However, to get water directly into people's homes needed a larger investment; dams needed building to block streams and rivers, and large water pipes needed to be be laid from hilly areas into towns, then pumped into storage towers, then gravity fed into homes through smaller pipes and then into your homes – but it was done years ago and we all now benefit from that and don't even consider HOW it was done or the effort needed to do it!

The use of more water then expanded quickly. From just a cold water tap, to a bath by the fire, to boilers, hot water on tap, washing machines, electric kettles etc. in the house and outside taps, hosepipes, sprinklers and car washing outside...  the list was always expanding. (Except during drought! - The 'lack' of infrastructure!)

 Many years after water was put into peoples homes, gas also arrived – then electricity, then the telephone! All are now considered absolute basic utilities; and rightly so. But 'someone' had to think of them and then design and build the infrastructure to get it from where it was made into your homes and then we had to pay for it if we used it.

Gas, the only way of providing light and cooking other than on the open fire, was superceded by electricity in the majority of homes – modern technology! – and we all can see how the number of electrical appliances has expanded! Many things have come along using electricity that we never ever dreamt of.

Then came the morse telegraph – a way of electrically transmitting dots and dashes over wires across the world! Set up by governments and businesses for trade, what a revolution when those same wires were used for telephones and us being able to talk directly to anyone anywhere in the world! The scramble for getting a telephone into everyone's homes led to the huge infrastructure of unsightly copper telephone wires we have on poles all over the villages and countryside.

When computers were invented, people found another use for the telephone lines, dial-up broadband!  It allowed communications at about 300 dots per second which gradually went up to 56,000 (56k) and we all used it! (Those who knew about it!) but it did hog the phone line – there was no multitasking back then!

Technology moved on when it was found that the phone lines couldn't manage any better speeds without a change and customer demand was rising! People also wanted to use their phones and their computers at the same time. Broadband as we know it was accomplished by putting a high frequency signal on top of the voice line and much better speeds became available – generally up to 8,000,000 bits per second (8Mbps).

The problem then became one of physics, these were all electrical pulses over copper wires. Longer wires meant more resistance, more resistance meant poorer reception and the system slowed down! The 8Mbps dropped to 1Mbps or even 0.5Mbps in people's homes! Something had to be done as customers complained!

Superfast broadband was seen by some to be the saviour! By supplying your local green telephone cabinet (usually found in every village) with a faster signal using laser light down a glass fibre it could cut down the length of copper between the exchange and the home. They called it Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC). Speeds of up to 80Mbps are talked about but they had underestimated the ongoing problem of the copper resistance in the last mile from the cabinet to your home. That resistance drops the new higher frequency signal even faster than previously which is why many on the new system see few benefits at all if they are just a short distance away from the cabinet! But that is all that is on offer from the Government and BT even after a huge investment of our ratepayers money in costly improvements - to benefit towns rather than rural areas!

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