Tech Stuff

The Internet is full of technical terms so to help you out, here's what it all means.

Megabits per second (Mbps) and Gigabits per second (Gbps)

This is the speed at which data is transferred in and out of your computer. It determines how quickly web pages display, how long it will take to download (or upload) a file from or to a website and whether you can watch a film without it continually be interrupted by the 'spinning wheel'. If, for instance, you want to download a file such as a photo from a website which is 20 Megabytes in size (this is typical for a good quality photo for printing) the time it takes will depend on the speed your Internet connection. If, for instance, your connection speed is 2Mbps then the file will take around 1 minute 18 seconds whereas on a 1Gbps connection it would be almost instant.

A HD video is, on average, 4Gigabytes in size so download one of these would take almost 5 hours with a 2Mbps connection and around 35 seconds with 1Gbps.

You can try out different file sizes and speeds yourself here.

Fibre Optic Cable

Fibre Optic cables can transmit data much faster than the normal copper cables used for telephones and are used for the Internet Backbone for transmitting data around the country and around the world.

FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet)

BT's Infinity product uses FTTC to provide 'superfast' broadband. Fibre Optic cables connect the local exchange to a cabinet and then standard copper cable is used from the cabinet to the home. Copper cable cannot transmit data at anywhere near the rates of Fibre Optic cable so once the data hits the copper cable it slows down dramatically. Think of a motorway being the Fibre Optic cable and copper cable being a country lane. Worse still, on some parts of the network aluminium cable is used!

Furthermore, the longer the distance that data has to travel along copper or aluminium cable, the slower it gets, so if you are not close to the cabinet then you can forget the fast speeds quoted. The cabinet that feeds Michaelston-y-Fedw is at the bottom of Coalpit Lane so most of the village is so far from it the fast speeds bandied about cannot be met.

Below is a graphic showing the difference in speed as you move further away from the cabinet. The red arrow indicates where BT Infinity matches or is even worse than a standard ADSL Internet connection, about 500 metres.

Internet Speed Graph

FTTH (Fibre To The Home)

Many new homes in the UK are being connected using FTTH (BT call this FTTP, Fibre To The Premises). This is where Fibre Optic cable connects the home directly to the local exchange without any copper cables getting in the way. Unfortunately, retrofitting FTTH to existing homes is a very expensive task which is why broadband providers use FTTC for the connections (see above) and why existing homes will never get real Superfast Broadband.

Router

This is a box that connects to the telephone line coming into your home and creates a network, either wired, WiFi or both, to which you can connect your computers, smartphones, tablets and another other internet-enabled devices. A Fibre Optic connection requires a special router so this is why Michaelston-y-Fedw Internet CIC will provide a replacement as part of the connection process.

VOIP

Voice Over Internet Protocol lets you make telephone calls via the internet rather than a traditional landline. There are many advantages to VOIP:

  • Small monthly subscription
  • Free calls to anywhere in the world
  • You can have a non-geographic number so if you move you can take your number with you.
  • Save the cost of a landline if everything is on Fibre Optic.