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Broadband Internet: Choosing the right package
With several licensed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the market, it can be tempting to sign up to the first broadband package you see advertised.

It is advisable to spend a few minutes comparing the various packages available and then choosing the one that meets your needs and budget with confidence. Broadband generally refers to connection rates which is greater than 128 kbps.

Connection Rate

This is the maximum Internet connection speed and usually referred to as bandwidth. For every Internet connection, there is downstream rate and upstream rate. Downstream rate refers to the bandwidth allocated for transferring Internet data (eg. web pages, files etc) from the ISP to your computer, while upstream is the bandwidth allocated for the traffic (eg. request for a web page) in the opposite direction.  Connection rates are given in kbps (kilo-bits-per-seconds).  Better browsing performance and faster downloads of files can be obtained with larger Internet connection rates – more the better. 

Contention Ratio

In developed markets, cost effective broadband Internet connections are provided with a certain level of contention ratios. These contention ratios are applied in the backbone (domestic) and International parts of the network. This ratio describes the number of subscribers that can use your line (sharing your International bandwidth connection) at one time.  A typical basic residential user broadband connection would have a contention ratio of 50:1 and this would mean that a maximum of 49 other users could be on your line at one time.  A 512 kbps broadband connection shared between 50 Internet subscribers would result in 10.24 kbps each.  Consequently, the higher the contention ratio, the higher variations in Internet connection speed you may receive.  Typical business class users would have broadband connection with a contention ratio of 20:1.  Obviously, dedicated International bandwidth connections would have a contention ratio of 1:1 and these are ideal for corporate users that make large use of the Internet. 

Contract Term

The standard broadband ISP contract is for 12 months.  However, you may request for short term agreements.  Ensure that your contract doesn’t prevent you from changing your broadband ISP and that there are no charges for the change over.   

Download Restriction

Some broadband ISPs may “cap” or restrict the amount of data transferred per month.

Value Added Features

Broadband packages may include extras such as free personalised email accounts, webspace to create your own website, web mail, e-mail hosting, domain hosting and customer support.  Due to the always on connection, security features such as firewall (prevents unauthorised access [hack] to or from your computer network), spam filter (protection from junk e-mail such as filters to block specific e-mail addresses), anti-virus protection, parental control (allows the blocking of inappropriate web content being accessed by children using your computer as well as controlling your children’s e-mail account) are encouraged.

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