1. What is Broadband and what do I need?


Any fast, permanent Internet service is called 'broadband', although there are various ways of getting broadband connected to your home. Broadband can come via your phone line, a cable TV service, 3G mobile phone network or by satellite.
The two most common methods are via your phone line using a system called ADSL and via a coaxial service normally through a cable telephone/TV provider. Don’t worry if this sounds complicated, here’s a quick overview.


ADSL


ADSL uses the same cable that connects your phone to the local exchange. However it does not stop you making or receiving phone calls.
To get ADSL you will need to have you phone line upgraded – this is called activation. In addition to this you will also require a broadband modem. Both of these are normally arranged by your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
There are a few different versions of what you would term as a ‘broadband modem’ these are as follows:


USB ADSL Modem


An ADSL Modem is just a faster version of your normal modem, most broadband Internet Service Providers will give you one of these free of charge when you subscribe to their service. This will only allow the computer that it is connected to, to use the Internet Service.


ADSL Router


An ADSL Router is a glorified version of a normal USB ADSL Modem. The main difference being that you can connect several computers in your home to the same Internet Service and these can all browse the Internet simultaneously.


ADSL Wi-Fi Router


An ADSL Wi-Fi Router is the same as a normal ADSL Router with the important advantage being that as long as you have a Wi-Fi card in your PC you don’t have to physically connect it to your PC with a cable. Normally the Router sits nears your phone socket and then any computer in the house with Wi-Fi can access the Internet. These most commonly can also share wired and wireless connections should you have a mix of devices. These are especially advantageous if you have a laptop or handheld device. If your selected PC or handheld device does not have Wi-Fi, this can normally be added for a cost of around £30 - £40.


CABLE (Co-axial)


A cable service is normally provided by the cable telephone/TV companies. It works slightly differently by delivering the service down a co-axial cable (similar to the type used on your TV Aerial).
Again, you will require a broadband modem to access the service. Most of the cable companies supply a wired type that you need to connect directly to your PC via a cable.
Some companies also offer a Wi-Fi version that allows you to browse the internet without connecting your PC to the modem as long as these devices have Wi-Fi built in – if they don’t you can easily add this functionality to your device, normally by the means of a small USB adapter.

Nokia N800 Internet Tablet – What will I need to use this wirelessly at home?

In order to use this Nokia device wirelessly within your home, you will require a broadband service and a Wi-Fi Router.
This will work happily on either an ADSL or a cable based service.




2. Choosing a broadband supplier


There are now over thirty ISPs offering broadband services in the UK, though not all provide nationwide coverage. Most provide a range of packages so not only do you need to choose your ISP, but also which package will suit you best.

Here are some thoughts to aid your decision:
If you live in an area with access to cable services (NTL, Telewest, Virgin) you can choose to have broadband via the cable or through a BT telephone line. However if you already subscribe to some cable services such as TV or Telephone, chances are that this will be the most cost effective route for you. If you do not currently use a cable supplier it is worthwhile exploring all of the options available for ADSL and Cable packages.
There are several broadband comparision website available such as http://www.broadbandsuppliers.co.uk/ which provide some useful information and costs.



3. How can I tell if I have wireless broadband?


If you already have a broadband service you should be able to tell if it is wireless by looking at your broadband Router. A Wi-Fi model normally has one or more Antenna’s on it or will say wireless or Wi-Fi on it somewhere. Wireless broadband allows you to connect a laptop or device to the internet without needing a cable going directly from you computer to the router.



4. If I have broadband but not Wireless (Wi-Fi) how do I get it and what does it cost?


Normally it’s as simple as replacing your current Modem or Router with a Wireless (Wi-Fi) model - This varies from model to model but normally starts at around £50.
If you have additional devices (PC’s, Laptops, PDA’s) in your home that are not Wi-Fi capable you may also have to add Wi-Fi capability to them – The simplest way of doing this is to add a USB Wi-Fi adapter which normally start at around £30 - £40.



5. What do I need to consider in addition to the above?



Firewall


A firewall is a barrier that is placed in between your computer and other computers that may be able to connect to your computer, via means such as the Internet. Firewalls stop unauthorised users gaining access to your computer, which they may attempt to do in order to steal your data, install ‘malware’ or simply be ‘nosy’. They do this by blocking access to ‘ports’ on your computer and also by hiding your computer from the view of other Internet users. They also keep a monitor on any network traffic that is passed to or from your computer.


Do I need a firewall?


Yes! Since you are an Internet user, you need a firewall, unless you are happy for complete strangers to help themselves to the data on your computer. If you use the Internet via a broadband connection, you are at greater risk to computer hackers, due to the extended time that you will be connected to the Internet and the quicker access speed to your computer, but all Internet users should install a firewall regardless of their type of connection.


What is the difference between hardware and software firewalls?


Hardware firewalls are external devices that you plug your computer into before it is plugged into your modem. They have the advantage of being separate from your computer, should your computer pick up a virus, which could potentially deactivate your firewall. They also avoid any performance impact from running on your computer. Most modern broadband Routers now have a built in Firewall.

Software firewalls are programs installed on your computer that run automatically in the background, which could result in some performance impact. They tend to be cheaper than hardware firewalls and have the advantage of configurable functionality which can easily be changed to specify who can/cannot have access to your computer. Some software stops not only incoming intruders, but also non-authorised data being sent from your computer, in the instance where your computer may already have been infected by malware (a form of malicious computer code) that is trying to send out your private data or use your computer to send out spam. Some firewall software can also be configured to ban access to suspect Internet sites and include some amount of virus and spyware protection, although this should never be relied upon. The main disadvantage of software firewalls it that they could potentially be inactivated, by malware that may find its way onto your pc, via means of a computer virus or spyware.



6. Below is a brief explanation of Spam and Malware.


SPAM - To indiscriminately send unsolicited, unwanted, irrelevant, or inappropriate messages, especially commercial advertising in mass quantities. Noun: electronic "junk mail".

MALWARE - Along with viruses, one of the biggest threats to computer users on the Internet today is malware. It can hijack your browser, redirect your search attempts, serve up nasty pop-up ads, track what web sites you visit, and generally screw things up. Malware programs are usually poorly programmed and can cause your computer to become unbearably slow and unstable in addition to all the other havoc they wreak.



7. Further Help and Assistance

If you would like to have wireless broadband installed in your home or would like additional assistance in purchasing suitable equipment, then there will be several companies willing to help such as Scotsys, who are a well established and reputable company with a local branch in Newington. You can find them at 95 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9BY or contact them via their website at http://www.scotsys.co.uk/contact.asp