How to choose a broadband provider

4th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

With so many options available for broadband internet access, it is not surprising that many people don't know which one to choose. Our technology expert has some pointers.

Many people wonder: "should I use ADSL or cable"? "How fast should I get connected"? How do I set up wireless internet access"?

Sometimes you need expert advice just to choose the right connection option

This is just a small selection of the questions that I am often asked by users bewildered with the virtually unlimited choices for high-speed internet.

There are two primary choices for high-speed internet access: ADSL and cable. Both of these provide an "always on" internet connection so that you are constantly connected to the internet. The internet service provider usually supplies a special high-speed modem that you plug your computer into using either USB or Ethernet.

It is better to choose Ethernet over USB if you have that capability, as you will get much greater speed with less problems. Sometimes you also have the option of purchasing the modem so that you don't have to pay a monthly fee to rent the modem from the Internet provider.

Always on

ADSL is a dial-up service that runs over a special digital telephone line and is usually configured to stay connected to the internet constantly. To get connected over ADSL, you will need a special ADSL telephone line and internet service from an Internet provider.

In some areas, it is possible to purchase both the phone line and service from the same internet provider. Otherwise, you will need to get the ADSL line from the telephone company and the internet service separately.

While using ADSL, occasionally the system will disconnect and your connection will have to be re-established. Ordinarily, you will not notice this as it happens very rapidly and automatically. This can sometimes cause downtime however, as your modem may have to redial more than once to get reconnected.

Choosing a good provider can help to reduce problems associated with periodic disconnects and enable you to maximise your uptime. To find out which internet provider has the best service, check online reviews and ask others what their opinion is of the internet service that they are currently using.


In the last several years, the cable television infrastructure has been upgraded to support internet service and many cable providers can now provide access to the internet as well. There is no special telephone line necessary for cable internet access, as it runs over the existing cable TV network alongside the signal for television. This service is offered in the larger metropolitan areas and is usually slightly less costly than ADSL for similar features.

There are various internet download speed options available from cable and ADSL providers in the Netherlands that range from 80Kb/second up to 20Mb/second.

Something to keep in mind if you are ordering ADSL: your distance from the telephone company determines your speed and even the availability of the service! So if you are far away from the telephone company's equipment, then your connection will run slower than if you were closer to them.

If you are too far away from them, then ADSL may not be available in your area at all. It is very important to check with the ADSL provider and ask what speed you should expect in your area.

Your distance does not affect cable internet speed. So if you are not near the telephone company, then you may get much better internet access speed if you choose cable instead of ADSL.


If you are just checking email and occasionally browsing the internet, then you could choose a connection speed at the low end of the available options. For casual use, 1Mb/second is a more than adequate download speed.

If you do a lot of browsing and downloading of MP3 and video files, than you should find that 4 to 10Mb/second will be fast enough for your needs. If you play interactive 3D video games over the internet or have other extremely-high bandwidth requirements, then you should go for the maximum available speed option which is ADSL2+ and runs at 20Mb/second!

Multiple users in your office or home can usually share a single internet connection by attaching a router to the modem that is supplied by the internet provider. Many people choose to purchase a wireless router (WiFi) that enables them to not only share their connection with other users, but also connect to the internet wirelessly throughout their office or home.

Some internet providers are now offering a package that combines additional options with their internet service like digital TV and telephone. If you choose to get these three services over one line and from one provider, there are often discounts for having the complete package.

Check with the providers in your area to see what kind of specials or combination deals they are running if you sign up for all three services. And don't forget to find out what the installation and disconnection charges are for the service that you choose.

See you on the net!


Kevin Yost is a Senior Technology Engineer at Provisory, a US-based corporation specialising in technology and connectivity for international corporations, executives and end-users.

Have you a technology question? Write to

4 November 2005

[Copyright Kevin Yost + Expatica 2005]

Subject: expats and the internet, broadband internet

0 Comments To This Article