In broadband terms what you get depends on where you live. A broadband checker lets you enter your postcode and then tells you what your options are (or aren’t).
Every ISP (Internet Service Provider) has a post code checker on their site, but it is far easier to use the ones provided on the broadband comparison sites.
The Overall Picture
If you live in a town or city then you have it all. You get to choose between cable, ADSL, satellite and 3G (mobile phone) networks. Every ISP targets their advertising at you if you live in an urban area, even those whose high costs make them totally unsuitable.
If you live in the wilds of Scotland you will only have satellite broadband available, so your choice should be an easy one; to pay or not to pay.
Live in Town?
If you don’t have a cable connection and there is one available then pay the £100 connection fee and get connected. If you have no cable available and don’t have a land-line, get one. Fixed line broadband connections are faster, more reliable and cheaper. Cable connections are faster because the cable companies use optical fibre cables rather than copper.
3G sounds wonderful if you believe the ads. Even if you have the best 3G signal in the country it will not compare to what you can get through an optical fibre cable connection. 3G is fine as a back-up while you are away from home, but as your main Internet connection it is a very poor choice in terms of cost, reliability and speed.
Satellite Internet advertising is also aimed at town-dwellers. I have a satellite connection and I am telling you, it should be the next to last resort (Satellite beats 3G). I pay £50 a month for an 8Mb connection with an 8Gb monthly data limit. Satellite broadband stops when there is heavy rain or snow. It also stops for three hours at a time for maintenance without any warning whatsoever.
Live in the Sticks?
The attitude from all the ISPs is “What do you expect? You chose to live miles from anywhere.” Forget cable, it is never going to get there in your lifetime. Forget the possibility of BT upgrading your local telephone exchange or line.
If you live in one of those uncoloured areas on the mobile networks then nothing is going to change there any time soon either. It is not worth any network building a mobile tower to serve three houses. 3G is just a town-dweller’s fantasy except when you go into town once a week.
Satellite broadband is your only option if you live in the deepest countryside, and don’t think I mean Sky either. If you cannot get Sky TV then you won’t get Sky broadband either. There are specialist satellite broadband ISPs who will put up a dish anywhere on a south-facing wall with a line of sight to their geo-stationary satellite. These dishes allow you to upload as well as download data, but you will pay an arm and a leg for the privilege of being connected. If a broadband checker shows this as your only option then you just jave to decide whether to pay the price or to stick with dial-up.
Jimmy Roach used a third party broadband checker to check his broadband options and discovered a few ISPs he had not thought of.