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Often referred to as part of the telecommunications sector, the industry which exists around the installation and use of phone and broadband coverage is one which utilises and draws on the developments made across the technology industry in the last few decades; creating lines of communication and the transmission of information via phone lines and connection to the internet.
Though the internet has been around for a few decades, the way that we use it and access it has changed during the course of its relatively short history – first requiring a dial up connection which linked a consumer with the internet through their phone line, before broadband was established in the early 2000’s and finally allowed consumers to use both their phone and the internet at the same time. More than anything else, this invention provided the world with faster connectivity and an opportunity to download tv shows, films and songs at faster speeds; ultimately widening the possibility of internet usage and creating an entire entertainment industry within the realms of the online world.
For consumers today, the provision of broadband as a modern utility is linked with and relies upon the installation and active connection of a landline – whether that landline is connected to a physical phone or not. It is interesting to note how modern consumers have adjusted their use of phones in light of the huge developments seen across the mobile phone and portable device industry, as landlines have become so under-utilised that many homes no longer have landline phones connected. Despite this however, a landline is still required in order for broadband to be installed in the home, with all providers irrespective of costing and package deals using the BT infrastructure to create the landline connection before installing their own service broadband packages on top of the line.
Top providers in the phone and broadband industry
It is important to note that no matter what broadband provider you decide to go with, all broadband connections require the phoneline infrastructure provided by BT. All consumers are required to pay the cost of keeping the landline active, even if they don’t have a landline phone, because it is through this line that their broadband is received and channelled throughout the home. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule – for example rural sites where landlines are inefficient and so consumers seek alternative methods such as the installation of a 3G network provider box instead of broadband. What this does is utilise the power of 3D just as a phone would, with consumers buying a SIM card and paying a monthly or annual fee which supports their 3G internet use as monitored by the package they have paid for.
Once the landline has been set up, it’s time for the consumer to ascertain which broadband provider offers the best package in line with their location and broadband requirements – for example the quantity of residents consistently using the internet in their household, and the local phone lines which support the provision and service of different providers.
Some of the biggest names in the broadband industry include:
These are often compared both by individual consumers and by comparison sites using the following headlines:
- Broadband and download speed
- Reliability and strength of connection
- Value for money
- Ease of contacting and quality of customer service
- Technical support
- Extra benefits, for example entertainment packages and included installation fees which can otherwise prove to be quite expensive.
For many consumers facing a choice of different providers, it is both local recommendation and the promise of extra features and benefits which can be enough to swing favour towards one provider over another. Providers often find that one local area, be it a residential street, a village or even an office community, will often operate their internet and online services under one or two of the most effective select providers – based on review. There are sites which make this easier, allowing consumers to ascertain and compare the quality of the internet services through certain providers: an example being USwitch which allows consumers to search for the best and most effective broadband provider based on their postcode and data analysis of reviews and testimonials provided by existing customers.
When it comes to the provision of extra features and benefits, this is where cost comes into play and where consumers are advised to consider not just the surface headline fees presented by any given provider, but also the underlying fees which come as part and parcel of any contract. For example, many consumers do not consider that changing their broadband provider means paying a new set up fee to have the new provider take over the landline rental management, as well as installing their own broadband lines. The cost of changing provider often outweighs the slight increase in regular fees and costs, meaning that the consumer might be better off financially sticking with their existing provider so long as they are satisfied with the service. And even if it doesn’t, the consumer should always be aware of the small print and terms and conditions which may in fact either add an extra start up fee to the cost of signing up with a specific provider, or else which may adjust the regular fee which needs to be paid to keep the service running consistently.
Some of the top providers like Sky, Virgin Media and BT also create package deals for consumers which include entertainment provisions as well as a good internet service – creating another avenue of comparison that consumers should consider before they commit to any specific provider, in light of what is being offered. Sky is typically one of the most popular providers because the Sky TV and entertainment package is so broad and gives the consumer access to everything from movies to sport – making it an expensive add-on to purchase on its own, but elevating the value of a package deal far beyond that of other providers.
Trends in the phone and broadband industry
One of the biggest shifts in the phone and broadband industry is the increase in prominence of fibre optic broadband, which typically surpasses other more standard broadband packages and provides a service which is both reliable and consistent. Fibre optic works through the transference of data and information through fibre optic tubes which use and send flashes of light carrying the information from one point to another; pushing information through the tubes at the speed of light and thus presenting the highest possible quality of connectivity at the fastest levels. Not only has the development of fibre optic increased the provision of broadband in terms of width of servicing and speed, but it has also become so commonplace in the industry that it is no more expensive than standard broadband packages in the long run. In terms of availability, fibre optic broadband is on the rise and is being slowly rolled out on a national and international scale; however, it is not yet widely available everywhere. Another product which is increasing the usability of broadband packages for many consumers is the rise in network extenders – designed to be used across the home in order to help the broadband connection reach those rooms and areas which are furthest from the internet or WiFi box.
And finally, to the way that broadband providers ensure the online browser safety of consumers and customers in the long run – both through the provision of virus blockers and parental controls, as well as cloud capabilities which allow consumers to save their data and documents into the cloud for ease of control just in case a specific device was to run into problems or break down. With the world becoming more and more reliant on the internet and online world for information and entertainment, as well as communication, families, employers, and individual users are having to channel more time and energy into ensuring the safety of users. Parental blockers are a particularly prominent form of online safety, with more and more news headlines existing around the exploitation of young people online; similarly to the way that older and more vulnerable individuals also require virus protection in light of the increase in scams which exist to con users out of extra money. Broadband providers are consistently doing what they can to install blockers and warning pages against certain internet actions, however as much effort must be channelled into education and consumer awareness if the internet industry is to start protecting users against the broad variety of risks which exist in the modern online world.
The fact is that while there is still a need for more understanding around viruses and online safety, consumers are becomingly increasingly well educated about the broadband industry, with the increase in our access to the internet meaning that we have better access to information at our fingertips. If nothing else, within the phone and broadband industry in particular this means that consumers are better able to compare their provider options in certain local areas, ascertaining exactly how effective and cost efficient each provider is. As the world turns more to online information and ecommerce, both in terms of private need and usage and business presentation, broadband is becoming evermore important as a means of keeping the world connected and ensuring that businesses and individuals are able to meet and keep up with societal and consumer demands.