Downloading movies or TV programs in high-definition (HD) can be very taxing on broadband speeds and limits. While a standard definition (SD) movie can be downloaded in a file size as small as 800MB, HD movies can be over 5GB in size. This makes downloading them over standard broadband connections quite slow at times. HD broadband allows much faster download time. This allows you to get very high-quality video and audio (almost as good as HDTV) to your laptop, computer or mobile device.
HD broadband isn’t really a separate concept to high speed broadband, but it is a useful term with regards to the offerings of many providers, since it implies high-speed broadband bundled in many cases with TV on demand (and in some cases IPTV).
HD broadband offerings also usually address the other issue of downloading lots of HD content: usage limits. While the speed aspect of other bundles might be enough to download lots of HD content, the amount of content you download might be capped by a fair usage policy. So you might have no problem downloading HD movies quickly with a standard high speed broadband plan, but you may not be able to do so as often as you would want to.
This is not usually the case with HD broadband plans, as they come with a higher download limit (or in most cases unlimited, subject to very high fair usage caps). With many broadband plans with lower limits, you could face the risk of extra charges and/or throttled speeds if you exceed the limit, but the risk of this is much lower with HD broadband plans.
There are several main companies providing this kind of service:
Sky are well known for their HDTV offerings, and the same is true of their HD broadband. Sky have one of the widest ranges of TV and movie offerings also, so if you’re into film this is a good option. Another advantage is that they offer a new ultra HD service.
Virgin Media have possibly the fastest broadband of any of the main providers, with speeds of up to 200Mbps. This means you could download 5GB HD movie in a matter of minutes.
BT have a wide range of movies and channels also, and use the YouView set top box which can allow very high speeds.
TalkTalk also provide their service with the YouView box.