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Broadband terms explained

Written by Aaron Trowse , 17th February 2021

We know technical terms can be confusing and we aim to be as jargon-free as possible in our broadband guides. So, we’ve pulled together a full guide on internet connection terms and what they mean.


ADSL or as in its entirety - asymmetric digital subscriber line, allows data to be quickly transferred over the copper wires of your phone line and is a common internet connection. Nearly every home in the UK can get an ADSL connection. The further you are located from the home phone, the more your connection speed shall be affected.


Spyware steals your personal information normally without your knowledge or consent. Additionally, it can affect your computer’s speed and in some instances can alter your programs and settings. Most internet service providers include anti-spyware in their broadband packages, if not you can cover your computer with an anti-virus program.


Anti-virus software aims to detect, prevent, and remove malicious software. Malware, the main threat works to damage your computer, in the process intercepting key information. This makes owning anti-virus software essential. Some service providers include free anti-virus software with their broadband. If not, paying for protection is hugely recommended, as saving those all-important devices will save you a lot of hassle and stress.


Bandwidth is pivotal to your broadband and is used to describe simplistically the data transmission speed – which is the speed you can both upload and download at.


Capping is normally used to describe a download limit you may have on your account. If you breach the agreed limit, you usually are subject to additional charges.

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DSL or digital subscriber line is the designated name for digital, rather than copper telephone lines that carry data at high speeds, providing fibre optic solutions.


The process of transferring data for storage on your own computer. This is different to ‘streaming’, where there is no transferring of data for storage to your computer itself.

Download speed

Normally the pivotal numbers that give you a true indication of your broadband speeds. Download speed is the speed at which you can download data from the internet to your computer.

Fibre-optic broadband

Fibre-optic allows for quicker internet speeds, giving the end-user quicker browsing solutions.


Helps protect your computer from unwanted data travelling from the internet to your computer. Normally this is included in your broadband, if not most anti-virus protection offers firewall options.

Gigabit (GB)

A unit used to measure the speed at which data travels across an internet connection, sometimes written as Gbps, or gigabits per second.

Gigabit broadband

Gigabit broadband is an internet solution that provides speeds of 1GB or more, allowing incredible download times. However, it is not available in all areas of the UK as of yet.


A gigabyte (GB) is a unit of measurement for a data file. There are 1,024 bytes in a kilobyte (KB), 1,024 kilobytes in a megabyte (MB), and 1,024 megabytes in a gigabyte.


A hotspot is an area with an available wireless connection. This could be anywhere from a supermarket to a university campus – free Wi-Fi could be just a sign-in away.

IP address

A unique code that identifies a device connected to the internet. Internet protocol (IP) is essentially like a telephone number, unique to individual users.


ISP, not to be confused with IP, is your internet service provider, which is the company responsible for your internet connection.


A megabit or Mb is exactly like gigabit, describing internet speed and is often expressed as Mbps or megabits per second.


Again, similar to gigabytes, a megabyte is a form of measurement for data files. For example, an image file might be 10 megabytes.

Mobile broadband

Broadband solutions without a fixed-line, allowing you access to the internet when not at home through a mobile phone or other portable device using the mobile network.

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A modem is the most essential piece of kit that allows your computer to access your ISP so you can connect to the internet.


A router is another internet essential which allows more than a single device to connect to the same network. The router and the modem work together so that all your devices can access the internet at once.


Different to downloading, is watching videos or listening to music over the internet without saving it locally.

Unlimited broadband

An alternative to capped contracts, there is absolutely no limit on the amount of data you can upload and download.


The opposite of downloading, uploading is when you send information from your computer to the internet. For example, when you send an email or a photo to a website.


Voice over internet protocol – has become hugely important in recent times. VoIP allows you to talk online, in the same way as you would over the phone, using a broadband connection. Zoom, Skype and Teams are the most well-known services.

Wireless broadband

Is exactly what you would expect, broadband without the wires – connecting to the internet wirelessly.

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