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Making the move from dial-up to a broadband internet connection opens several new possibilities in the online environment, including new ways of interacting and communicating with family and friends. Possibilities for online gaming, social networking, cheap phone calls and the fast download of music and video files are all introduced with a broadband internet connection.

A 2006 survey by the ABS found that for Australians over 15, the average time spent using the internet outside of work was just over one hour per day. According to Alexa, the most frequently visited websites in Australia in 2009 were Google, Yahoo and YouTube. This suggests the majority of time spent online by the average user involves searching for information, sending or receiving emails and watching videos online. Any of these activities are much faster with and ADSL, Cable or Mobile broadband compared to a dial-up internet connection.

Broadband ADSL internet connections enable web browsing several times faster than dial-up connections. Where available an ADSL2+ connection offers speeds over 300 times faster than a standard 56kbps dial-up connection. This means web pages appear faster, streaming videos load faster and attachments are viewed in an instant.

MySpace, Facebook and social networking websites

A broadband connection also makes it easier to join social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace. Uploading photo's or your favourite music to a MySpace page is considerably faster with ADSL upload speeds ranging from 64-1000kbps, depending on your broadband plan. The large amount of information and images on Facebook pages means a broadband connection is optimal for fast browsing between friend's profiles.

Faster Email

When you send emails with attachments you are uploading a small amount of information. The speed at which files upload is significantly faster on a broadband connection. The same applies when downloading attachments or viewing emails with photos or a large amount of data. Attachments will appear quicker from a broadband internet connection.

Online Gaming

Online games have also taken advantage of the prevalence of broadband internet connections to offer graphic-intensive environments and multiplayer possibilities over the internet. In general online games will recommend at 256kbps broadband connection but a 1500kbps is an optimum speed to ensure the integrity of the online experience. Most game consoles also offer online play to compete against other players, with the greater challenges and strategies demanded by a human opponent.

Staying in touch with families and friends

New ways of communicating with family and friends have been introduced to broadband subscribers, including the ability to make and receive video calls. A Skype account, microphone and webcam are all you require to make a video call to any other Skype user, anywhere in the world on a broadband internet connection. The Skype software is free to download and calls to other users are free. Skype also offers cheep landline and mobile calls anywhere in the world.

Many providers also offer a VoIP service as cheap alternative to calls made via a home phone line. Bypassing the copper line owned by the major telecommunications companies means VoIP calls are significantly cheaper than traditional home phone rates. VoIP calls connect through the internet and require a broadband connection and a VoIP enabled modem. As the number of VoIP subscribers increase, the call quality is consistently improving, making VoIP and attractive alternative to a home phone line.

Music and Video download

High-speed broadband access has witnessed the proliferation of file sharing websites and peer-to-peer networks. Many sites offer music and video files for download in peer-to-peer networks, allowing the transfer of music and video files between individual computers. This allows the free exchange of material between users and requires a broadband connection to take advantage of the fast transfer speeds now available.

However, you should be aware that the transfer of copy-write material via peer-to-peer networks is illegal. There are now several sites such as iTunes that offer legal downloads of music and video for a small fee. With broadband connection most music tracks can be downloaded from iTunes in less than 1 minute. By contrast it would take 10-15 minutes to download a music track on a 56 kbps dial up connection.

Download limits

When moving to a fast broadband connection the amount of data you download will surely rise, requiring a larger download limit than required on slower internet connections. Every time you load a website, watch a video online or download an email attachment, you are using a small percentage of the monthly download limit available. A full length movie would use between 600-900MB of to download and the average music track is generally between 40-60MB. This means that on a Netspace ADSL2+ 15GB Anytime broadband plan you could download 10 movies and 50 music tracks while still surfing the internet at fast ADSL2+.

You can view an estimate of you download needs through an estimate of your average weekly internet use on Compare Broadband's usage estimator.