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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 February, 2005, 15:30 GMT
Broadband users delighted
Man using BT broadband (Vismedia)

Six million of us now have broadband internet at home.

And for the first time broadband has overtaken traditional dial-up accounts, according to figures from the telecoms regulator, Ofcom.

On Thursday, Which? published the results of a major survey of broadband users.

Feedback was extremely positive, particularly for Which? who are generally quite critical.

Positive reports

The magazine's readers tend to be particularly hard to please, but they were delighted on the whole.

"Certainly people are really happy with the reliability, ease and speed of broadband," says Jenni Conti of Which?.

"There were a couple of areas where they were less happy, for example value for money as it is still quite expensive.

"They also felt that technical support was not up to scratch," adds Jenni.

Satisfaction with ISPs
Clara.net - 71
Waitrose.com - 61
PlusNet - 59
Pipex - 53
Demon - 52
Blueyonder - 50
One.Tel - 43
Virgin.net - 39
Tesco.net - 38
AOL - 33
BT Yahoo! - 32
Tiscali - 31
Supanet - 30
Wanadoo - 30
NTL - 30

Getting broadband

There are various different ways of getting broadband into your home or office, the main being cable, ADSL or fixed wireless.

Not everyone in the UK can get broadband at present.

To find out what's available in your area go to the UK government site www.ukonlineforbusiness.gov.uk and type in your home phone number and postcode.

When you've identified what type of connection is available in your area then you can choose a service provider that best fits your needs.

Each provider will offer a slightly different price and service, so it's worth researching the various options.

Broadband Penetration, Western Europe
Average - 12%
Switzerland - 24%
Spain - 14%
France - 13%
UK - 10%
Ireland - 2%
Greece - 0%
Source: Forrester

The main areas to consider when choosing a provider are:

What speeds are available? - typical speeds available to you are 512 kbps, 1Mbps and 2 Mbps (the most popular being 512kbps).

Contention ratio - with how many people will you be sharing your bandwidth?

Customer service - if telephone support is going to be important to you then choose a provider with a reputable helpline. Note that some support lines are charged at higher than normal rates.

Web services - most service providers will also offer email and web space. If these are not important to you then you may be able to find a cheaper alternative.

Bundled services - you may already have TV or telephone services with a cable company that will offer you a reduced broadband rate, or cheaper installation, as part of a package.

Installation

Once you have signed up to a broadband service, your provider will probably arrange for a technician to visit your home and install the connection point.

Although some providers may give you the options to install the service yourself.

You may also need to install additional software on your machine in order to configure certain settings.

Your service provider will be able to give you details on this.

If you are unsure where to go to find a service provider, there are a number of guides to broadband providers on the net such as www.adslguide.org.uk.

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