In this section, we describe the main technologies used to bring you your broadband connection. We have taken out as much ‘jargon’ as we can, but in places the only way to describe the technology is with some technical language that can’t be translated. If you have questions, remember that you can ask us to talk you through how it all works.
We hate jargon - and will simplify things for you best when we've assessed your individual requirements
Next Generation Access (NGA)
The ‘next generation’ referred to is the industry-wide upgrade in technology from current ‘old’ methods that are used to deliver slower broadband speeds. In the list above, the NGA technologies are : Fibre to the premise, Fibre to the cabinet, Fibre on demand, Cable (DOCSIS 3.0), some newer types of Fixed Wireless Access, and Ethernet First Mile (EFM) delivered on a contended basis (that is, not a dedicated/uncontended line that only you use). Typically, NGA solutions will be lower cost than Business Grade and are likely to be both contended and asymmetric. The minimum speed you need to contract with your supplier for to use a Connection Voucher is 30Mbit/s either upload or download if you choose one of these products. If you already have an NGA connection at or above 30Mbit/s you should contact your city for requirements for the minimum speed that would be eligible for a Connection Voucher.
There is no standard definition of Business Grade, but characteristics of a Business Grade line will be that it is often symmetric, always unontended and will have a robust service level agreement from your supplier. Technologies above that would deliver a Business Grade service would be: Leased line, Leased line – Ethernet, Microwave, Ethernet First Mile (EFM) delivered on an uncontended/dedicated basis. Typically, Business Grade solutions will cost more, reflecting the higher quality and reliability of the service offered. The minimum speed you need to contract with your supplier for to use a Connection Voucher is 20Mbit/s upload or download. Remember that if you already have a Business Grade connection and wish to use a voucher to upgrade your service, your new connection must offer you at least double the speed – that is from 10 to 20 Mbit/s or from 20 to 40, and so on if you choose one of these products.
Fibre To The Premise (FTTP)
Where an optical fibre runs all of the way from the provider’s network to your premises. Very high download and upload speed (e.g. 10 Gigabytes per second and above) are possible with some types of active fibre systems. However, lower cost passive optical networks (PON), also classified as FTTP, are often used by suppliers and typically offer asymmetric speeds of up to 330Mbit/s download speed and 30Mbit/s upload speed.
Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC)
Where optical fibre is run to a street side cabinet, the additional expense of running fibre right up to a user’s premise is avoided. However the existing copper telephone lines that are used for the final connection to the premises from the cabinet have lower capacity than fibre, typically up to 80Mbit/s download speed and 20Mbit/s upload speed. Speeds depend on how far you are from the cabinet: the speed will be lower the farther the copper has to run.
Fibre on demand
Where a supplier usually offers FTTC to customers as a standard product rather than FTTP (because of the high deployment costs), or if FTTC would not provide a sufficiently fast service to meet an individual customer’s needs, then some network operators would offer FTTP for an additional charge by offering what suppliers call an ‘on-demand’ product. Charges are often considerable and are payable upfront.
Mobile telephone technologies can provide high maximum download speeds. However its reliability and performance varies with the location, environment, loading of the network by other users and the available radio spectrum. Mobile connections are not eligible under the Connection Voucher Scheme as costs of connection typically fall below the minimum grant level. Mobile technologies can however be used as part of another solution (see below).
Fixed Wireless Access (FWA)
Wireless links can be used instead of copper or optical fibre links to connect users from a wireless base station. Usually the base station is mounted on a mast or building at your premises. The connection’s performance is designed to be more stable and predictable than mobile because user equipment is in a fixed location. Often FWA uses mobile technologies adapted for fixed operations.
A leased line is a copper or fibre connection providing a data service with a Service Level Agreement (for example, this may cover. download speeds, repair times and so on). Depending upon the type of service ordered the sockets and connectors, and their electrical characteristics, might differ from the usual Ethernet components that you may be familiar with.
Leased line – Ethernet
An Ethernet leased line can be connected to existing office-based Ethernet networks without additional protocol translation equipment. It ‘presents’ an Ethernet interface to the user.
Microwave is a kind of leased line that uses a radio link rather than copper or fibre. Generally it requires a line of sight from the network location to an antenna dish mounted on or near your premises.