Introduction to ADSL Broadband

A broadband internet connection gives your business a permanent high-speed connection to the internet.

With a broadband connection to your home or office, you can surf the web and send and receive emails all day every day at speeds far in excess of those available on conventional dial-up modem connections.

There are various ways of getting a broadband connection. The most popular is by using an ADSL enabled phone line. Other methods include satellite broadband, and the cable modem broadband services provided by cable TV companies such as NTL and Telewest.

Here we look at some of the common questions about using ADSL broadband for a home-based or small office-based business.

What does ADSL stand for?
ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line.

What is ADSL?
ADSL is a special telephone line which lets you access the internet at a much higher speed than with a standard 56k modem (between 10 times and 40 times faster).

How does it work?
The service uses your existing telephone line. It splits your line into two parts: one for voice conversations, and the other for the high-speed internet data connection.

Does that mean I can surf the net and be on the phone at the same time?
Yes. Because the line has been split in two, you can make and receive normal telephone calls at the same time as accessing the internet, without the need for a second line.

Will ADSL reduce my internet call charges?
If you use the internet on a regular basis (and letís face it Ė most businesses do these days) then ADSL will normally work out cheaper than most other options that are available to a small business. With ADSL, your PC can be permanently connected to the internet, all day every day. You pay a fixed monthly fee, regardless of how much of how little time you spend on line.

I've got more than one PC. Can they all be connected to my ADSL line?
Yes. By using a simple computer network, you can share your ADSL connection across more than one PC.

Do I still have to pay BT line rental if I get ADSL?
Yes. You still have to pay line rental to BT, and pay for your normal (voice) telephone calls in the usual way. But you won't have any more internet call charges, and you won't need to rent a second BT line if you want to surf and talk at the same time.

How much does it cost?
Prices vary depending on your exact requirements. For the average home user, the monthly cost is around £20 to £30 including VAT. In addition, there is usually a one-off setup fee of £50 + VAT to cover the configuration changes that need to be made at the local telephone exchange.

How do I get it?
The ADSL service in the UK is provided by a division of BT called BT Wholesale. BT Wholesale (as its named implies) does not sell direct to the public. As a consumer, you have to buy your ADSL service from one of the many ISPs (internet serviced providers) that BT Wholesale does sell to. Popular ISPs include: Pipex, Virgin, Demon, Zen Internet, Nildram, Freeserve, and Easynet.

Each ISP sets its own charges for its broadband services. Different ISPs also offer differing levels of customer service. It therefore pays to shop around before deciding which ISP to use.

It is a common misconception that BT are the only people you can go to if you want ADSL broadband. This is not true. Although BT does have its own ISP called BT Openworld, there is no reason why you have to use them. Before choosing an ISP it is a good idea to check out the up to date ISP ratings at

Can anyone get ADSL?
ADSL is distance dependent and exchange dependent. To be able to use the service, your local phone exchange has to be ADSL capable, and your home or office needs to be within a certain distance of the exchange.

To check availability, visit

What equipment will I need?
You will need:
  • an ADSL modem or router for your PC
  • a microfilter for each telephone socket (including extension sockets) connected to your ADSL enabled phone line
In addition, as you will now be permanently connected to the internet, it is a good idea to make sure you are using up to date anti-virus software and have some form of firewall in place (either a hardware firewall or a software one). For more information on anti-virus and firewall products, please visit McAfee UK.

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