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Developments in the broadband market

Broadband that is run on the BT network is known as ADSL, and since it came on the scene it has rightly taken the vast majority of market share and become the standard offering for consumers, bringing about huge improvements in speed, reliability and usability.

However, there are a number of rivaling solutions that could take up market share further in the future and become more viable options for users.

The main contender is fibre optic broadband. It runs on high-tech high-performance wires, and in some countries has reached speeds of 1Gbps, many times faster than ADSL. The fastest internet connection ever was recorded with fibre, reaching a speed 40,000 times faster than the average ADSL UK connection (although commercial use of any of this technology is along way off, it shows the possibilities of fibre). Some smaller providers are setting the pace for the fastest fibre in the UK, reaching speeds of up to 200Mbps. BT, Plusnet, Virgin, EE and Sky all offer fibre deals as well.

Cable broadband is very similar to fibre in terms of speeds and setup, as well as prices. It is generally easier to get started but can cost more. Virgin cable is currently the fastest standard connection in the UK, with speeds of up to 300Mbps.

4G mobile broadband is possibly the contender that could get the most market share from ADSL, given its non existent set up costs and hassles and increasing availability as well as its comparable speed which reaches 100Mbps in some cases.

Finally, WiMax was once seen as a contender but excitement for the technology has cooled off somewhat in recent years. It uses microwaves to send data, and while in most cases 4G is the better option, the technology has shown a small resurgence in interest over the past year (especially in Asia) so it could reemerge as a contender for some customers in the future.