UK ISP Virgin Media finds Brits baffled by broadband jargon

The latest study of over 3,000 Internet users conducted by Virgin Media has revealed that 18% of online surfers don't know what broadband actually is, 53% thought broadband relied on having a phone line (satellite, Wi-Fi and Mobile Broadband solutions don't) and almost half are puzzled by the term meg (usually short for 'Megabit(s) per second' or 'Mb' - a measurement of broadband speed, though 8% thought it meant Megapixels).

Further results included:

40% - Don't understand the term ADSL (type of broadband tech).

7% - Thought Blue-Ray was a type of broadband (BR is a HD video format).

45% - Don't understand the term Dongle (i.e. USB Modem or a hardware security device).

40% - Had no idea what an Internet Browser is (hint: you're using one now!).

18% - Don't understand the term IPTV (Internet Television service).

33% - Fear downloading and online shopping due to security concerns.

40% - Don't download due to fears over the legality of websites.

30% - Didn't know how to tell if a website is secure.

51% - Don't know what speed their Internet package is.

73% - Don't know how to test their connection speed.

40% - Weren't happy with their current connection speed.

17% - Have used Twitter and three quarters of people know what social networking is.

16% - Incorrectly think ADSL is faster than Fibre Optic broadband, though this partly package dependent.

14% - Falsely believe that tangled cables can slow speed.

83% - Don't know that the distance a modem is from the wall socket connection can affect speed.

12% - Don't know what a Mailbox is (email inbox).

13% - Don't know what a blog is (personal news website).

27% - Don't understand the term URL (website address).

14% - Don't know how broadband speed is measured.

To combat this problem Sir Richard Branson has announced plans to trial Virgin Media 'Broadband Schools', which will launch in cities that display the least amount of broadband knowledge and no doubt help VM increase its customer base too.

Sir Richard Branson said: "As many of you may know I've never been terribly technical and I'm not at all ashamed to say that I'm probably a prime candidate for a Broadband School. I'm not alone, there are thousands of people in the same boat, and the only way they will ever learn is if things are kept simple.

At Virgin Media we want everyone to feel comfortable asking questions, no matter how silly they think they are, so that they can get the most out of their internet service and enjoy everything the Internet has to offer."

It's not precisely clear how these new "schools" will operate, though the following areas were found to be in most need of a broadband master class (based on which areas answered the lowest percentage of questions correctly):

11. Birmingham 49.12%

12. Belfast 49.53%

13. Leeds 50.86%

14. London 51.17%

15. Wolverhampton 51.28%

16. Plymouth 51.8%

17. Gloucester 52.23%

18. Chelmsford 52.67%

19. Cambridge 52.83%

20. Newcastle 53.54%

The survey concludes by revealing that almost half (49%) of people are unaware that the time of day/usage can affect broadband speed, with Virgin Media suggesting that 7pm - 10pm is the slowest time to go online (more people online). Similarly 80% didn't know that an Internet connection can be faster if the wireless router is in sight of your computer (stronger W-Fi signal).

In addition the ISP found 71% were unaware that only those living less than 3km from a telephone exchange can potentially achieve close to the typical advertised speed of broadband via a phone line (ADSL). In reality it's often about more than just the line distance (network congestion, service restrictions etc.).

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