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United Kingdom (UK) - Internet

The Internet is available in the United Kingdom through a variety of connection options including cable, DSL, wireless, and dial-up. The vast majority of UK houses will have broadband available, however some rural areas still use dial-up connections. In 2012, the UK government stated that the broadband service, including 4G wireless options, would be significantly improved by 2015.

The original broadband Internet system was built on cable television and telephone companies. These companies merged to create larger groups in order to offer better DSL and wireless broadband services. As of 2007, it was determined that about half of UK homes operated on broadband at a speed of 4.6Mbit/s.

For cable broadband connections, the United Kingdom has Virgin Media and Smallworld Cable. Most of the cable broadband services used are in Scotland, the Isle of Wight, and northwest England.

DSL or digital subscriber line is gaining in popularity so much so that ADSL, or asymmetric digital subscriber line, has now been introduced. This is generally considered to be the best choice for commercial users or heavy Internet users.

Internet Controversy

In 2010-2012, several complaints prompted a UK-wide enquiry into internet service providers. Some companies were advertising unrealistic speeds and the 4G wireless network was at times unavailable. Apple in particular was criticised for selling a 4G product that would only work on 3G networks.

Given the trouble in recent years regarding improper media coverage and confusing policy details, the regulatory authority now requires more transparency from internet providers. It is now known that for speeds can significantly decrease during times of heavy usage. Should someone stream a lot of data they may be slowed down or cut off during the periods when others who use less data are more likely to be online. Information regarding maximum level of speed is now clearer, and companies are required to explain that maximum speeds may not always be seen.

Despite the request for more transparency being a government-level regulation, there are few other government restrictions on UK internet usage. The UK also has websites set up to help individuals navigate the web safely and protect their banking information.

Websites are not limited or censored by the UK government. There are certain sites that have stricter regulations such as online casinos, but they are still available to UK residents. Some file sharing sites and streaming services are blocked by individual ISPs.

Free Wireless Internet

The United Kingdom has a few hotspot locations for Internet access, not all of them free. Many caf├ęs and restaurants have started offering Internet hotspots and they have the prerogative of charging if they wish. A dongle can be used to set up a mobile hotspot that is personal to the individual. London has many free hotspot locations; across the United Kingdom, hotspots are not as widespread as they are in the USA, however this is changing fast.

Setting up your Connection

Since a modem is required to hook up your internet connection, most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will require a home visit for installation. However, there is also the option of purchasing all the equipment for the connection and only having the provider come out to check the outdoor connection that leads into the house. The provider will need to start the connection from their headquarters, ensuring the proper installation is made for service into the house, and then the modem or other connector like a dongle or modem/wireless device will need to be hooked to all the computers you intend to use.

Internet Providers

Many of the names listed here are also TV and telephone providers enabling a UK resident to bundle their home services for convenience of billing.



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Talk Talk

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