Benefits for individuals and families

General benefits

A good broadband connection to your home means you can send and receive a greater amount of data in a shorter space of time. This allows you to access the internet, browse the web more effectively, download files faster and send and receive emails quicker. Advanced, faster broadband offers even greater speeds and more possibilities.  Here are a few of them:

  • A good broadband connection for your business or home means there’s greater capacity to send and receive data. You can receive and send far more information to your computer in the same period of time.
  • A broadband connection is always live – no waiting for dial-up connectivity (if you still use this route to the internet). This means that users are immediately productive without having to wait for connection.
  • Broadband is charged at a monthly flat rate instead of pay-as-you-go dial-up. This means that you could actually save money if you use the internet a lot and the regular payment system allows you to better budget.
  • A broadband connection also frees up the telephone line that was previously used to connect to the internet via dial-up. You may be able to disconnect any additional phone lines you have had installed, saving you money.
  • There are many social media websites which allow a real online community to develop – of which you can be a part. These are also best viewed with a fast broadband connection. Examples include:

As broadband means you’re always connected to the internet, you will need to make sure that you are safe by having a good firewall system and an anti-virus program in place. You can find out more about firewalls and anti-virus software on our Jargon Buster page.

Share your broadband connection

With a high-speed broadband connection, you can easily share connection to the internet across several computers or other devices in your home. This would not be practical for a dial-up connection and may be unacceptably slow for a low-speed broadband connection.

Many homes now have several desktop computers, laptops and other devices (such as Nintendo Wii, smart phones and even e-book readers such as the Amazon Kindle) that can access the internet. By setting up a simple Wi-Fi (wireless) network in your home, all family members will be able to access the internet on all such devices.

This means that many new and exciting employment, education, leisure and entertainment possibilities become open to the whole family.

Teleworking/Virtual Working

Broadband, combined with other new technologies, has led to the emergence of a new approach to the way we view the workplace and what it means to go to work. This mixture of new technology and patterns of work has become known as teleworking or virtual working. Depending on your job, you might be able to use faster broadband to work from home. This could mean less commuting and dependence on transport links. If you run your own business, faster broadband may enable you to run this from home. This may allow you to reduce your overheads on premises costs.

Another incentive for the growth for new, virtual working is the increased emphasis on legal rights on work/life balance within jobs. For example, people with children or other care commitments may be able to use broadband to restructure their working days.

Virtual working has very obvious cost benefits for both employers and employees, in increasing productivity and cutting commuting costs for employees.

Education

Fast broadband allows access to a broad range of educational material, in a variety of formats, for all ages – from toddlers to adults. For example:

Many universities, colleges and other organisations are also developing more distance learning courses. Learndirect provides access to many courses run by UK bodies.

Finally, school children are often required to undertake independent research as part of their studies. Faster broadband makes this much easier.

TV, radio, music and interactive games online

From catching up on missed TV programmes via BBC i-Player, 4oD, Demand 5 or the ITV equivalent, faster broadband allows a huge range of entertainment possibilities.

If you prefer music, you can stream radio channels from around the world catering to all musical tastes – from Estonian classical music to jazz from New Orleans. You can find these and over 5,000 other stations for free at www.onlineradiostations.com.

Alternatively, you could construct your own free play list at www.jango.com, or use the service at www.napster.com to browse and play over 10 million tracks for £5/month.

If you enjoy interactive games on your PC or games console, many games now allow play with other players worldwide via a good broadband connection.

You can also connect many other devices to your faster broadband via a Wi-Fi connection. These include smart phones and tablets, games consoles and e-book readers.

Cheaper telecoms

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a technology that allows you to make telephone calls using your broadband internet connection instead of your analogue phoneline. Your voice is broken up by special software into small packets of data, which are then sent through the internet and reassembled at the receiving end. This happens almost instantaneously, with no discernible time lag and at good quality – at least as good as a landline call.

There are several systems, but probably the most common in consumer use is Skype. By using this service, along with and a simple, cheap microphone/earphone headset or a Skype phone, a PC-to-PC call anywhere in the world is free. If you want to phone a landline, you can still make significant savings over your ordinary telephone line. For example, buying Skype credits and calling a landline in Australia would cost less than £1 for an hour! This could substantially reduce call costs to friends and relatives overseas.

Other benefits

Many national and local governments and other services are now moving online – it’s a much more cost-effective option.

Fast broadband allows individuals and communities to easily access a wide range of services from sites such as www.direct.gov.uk. This site allows users to find out information on a huge range of topics, from “who is the local neighbourhood policing team” to “how to make my community greener”.

Other online commercial services may also be helpful to people and families. For example, living in a rural area without owning a car may make shopping a problem. Many supermarkets offer online shopping with delivery to your door – easy to access with faster broadband.

Likewise, other services such as online banking make life easier for people in more remote communities.

Other information in this section: