Straightforward broadband in the UK?

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by Lau, Sep 21, 2004.

  1. Lau Guest

    Firstly, thanks to everyone on these forums who has unknowingly helped me make the decision to get a 12" PowerBook as I lurked away in the background. It's arrived and I love it!

    Now, at home my boyfriend has a dodgy old PC, and I have my gorgeous new PB :) , and we have dialup AOL internet. We'd like to get broadband, and I'm quite anxious to leave AOL because I don't like the email/browsing system. Is there a simple and cheap way to set our computers up so that the PC is always plugged in and I can plug my PB in to the phone line when I want to connect to the net?

    All the other posts seem to be about setting up networks and the like, and having had no experience of broadband I have no idea what I'm doing. I also can't afford to spend a lot at the moment (those PowerBooks don't come cheap!). We're not too bothered about speed at this stage, because I think anything's going to seem fast after dialup.

    Ideal scenario - Mac OSX-friendly/PC friendly UK provider, quick and cheap to set up, one line into the PC, and another line I can plug into the Mac.

    Does this exist?!
  2. caveman_uk Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
    Not sure about splitting the line but if you could use either windows or Mac OS X connection sharing to share the connection. Other than that you need additional hardware. I have an NTL cable modem (for my sins) which is an ethernet (as opposed to USB) modem. This runs into an Airport extreme base station which has a WAN port that the ethernet from my desktop mac is plugged into. The ibook uses wireless. The connection is therefore shared between the two machines. There are also third-party (non-apple) devices that will do much the same thing for less money.
  3. Gee macrumors 65816

    Feb 27, 2004
    London, UK
    If the PC has an ethernet port (like a phone line port, only slightly bigger), your best bet is probably to get a standard broadband package from somewhere like Wanadoo (used to be freeserve) or BT, which will come with a USB modem and an install disk for the PC. You could then install the USB modem for the PC and have it connect to the net by broadband (make sure you have a firewall and antivirus program!).

    If you then enable internet connection sharing on the PC, you should be able to connect your PB from it's ethernet port to the ethernet port on the PC and share the connection.

    Probably not quite as easy to set up as it sounds, but it would certainly be the cheapest solution....
  4. edesignuk Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England
  5. Bob21 macrumors newbie

    Mar 11, 2004
    Yorkshire, UK
    The easiest way is to buy a 4 port ADSL router (about £70-£80), like the Netgear DG834. Head over to for a review. You may be able to find a broadband provider that will supply you with a router instead of a USB modem. I think BTYahoo will supply one but you'd have to check with them.

    All you need then is an extra ethernet cable for your powerbook (around £5). Once your boyfriend sets this up on his PC (which shouldn't take more than 15 mins), all you do is plug the extra cable in to the router, then the other end in to your powerbook and away you go! You may need to change your network settings to DHCP in the TCP/IP panel, but usually your Mac will automatically switch this for you.

    The broadband is always on and when you've finished surfing, just disconnect the ethernet cable from your machine.
  6. Sabbath macrumors 6502a


    Sep 18, 2003
    From my understanding of your post your post you want a broadband connection through your phone line, where you can always have the pc plugged in to one phone socket and the PB into another when you want to.

    Assuming you have zero knowledge of broadband :) If you are looking at using your phone line then you are going to want ADSL, which comes in via your BT line, rather than cable (provided by telewest or NTL). There are plenty of ADSL providers in the UK.

    I don't think you will be able to find a way of plugging your PB into a seperate phone line and having the PC always on as this would effectively require having two connections. What you will be able to do is have your broadband connected to one computer and then the other connected through that computer or have it connected to a network device called a router which both computers are then connected to.

    A would normally suggest having a router (wired or wireless) as then you can use either computer independently of the other one being on or off and you dont have to rely on the reliability of one computer. Also routers are generally easier to set up and wireless ones solve all the issues of ethernet cables trailing everywhere. However using a router you require an ethernet modem which are more expensive than USB ones. Or an ADSL modem and router in one.

    In order to keep the cost right down, you can connect a USB modem to one of the computers and then connect the other via ethernet cable to
    that computer. You can share the internet connection using connection sharing on the computer conbnected to the modem (windows (XP at least) and OS X have connection sharing built in).

    As for the actual connection I would go for 512kbps as anything lower doesnt really give you the true benefit of broadband (such as a lot of higher quality video streams etc). Also many cheap services limit the amount of data you can transfer a month, so if you plan to use the net a lot especially for watching video or downloading music, look for a unlimited plan which is usually a few pounds a month more. If you want to keep the initial connection cost down look for services offering free connection and modem, my girlfriend uses pipex who offer unlimited 512kbps with free USB modem and connection for £23 or so a month but require a 12 month contratc. If you dont want a 12 contract I use virgin who again offer unlimited 512Kbps for £25 a month (however you have a to buy a modem which is £9.99 for a USB modem through them or £35 for a ethernet modem elsewhere). As a guide it seems to take about 7-9 days for a connection be activated.

    Or you can consider getting a cable connection which includes an ethernet modem and free connection last time I looked, but I hate NTL so I could never recommend them :rolleyes: although telewest are supposed to be much better. And with cable it seems to take much longer to get anything set up.
  7. Maxicek macrumors regular

    Apr 23, 2004
    I pretty much second Bob 21.

    1: Buy a "wires only" broadband package. I use Plusnet, whom I have found very reliably and reasonably priced.

    2. After 3-4 weeks (was when I did it anyway) BT will have upgraded you line to ADSL.

    3. Buy a four port router. I use a Netgear, as Bob 21 recommended. If you have an Airport card an want to use your PB wirelessly, buy the DG834G. Both are available from

    4. Plug in the router and off you go. It took me longer to unwrap the box for my router than to get connected to the internet with it.

    Advantages of using the router method is that no drivers are required on either the PC or the PB. Bit bigger initial cost though.
  8. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Yep, simple. Lots of long posts here to read, so I'll keep mine short. Maxicek has it right. Here's an explanation of it all:

    Like Bob said, get a router. Normally, your internet signal gets passed to the cable modem, which then gets passed to the PC.

    In your case, it'll be different. Instead of a direct cable modem-to-PC connection, we're going to place a router in between them. Every computer that needs the internet will plug into the router. So that's 2 computers plugged into the router so far. On the other end of the router, your cable modem is plugged in as well. Summary: the cable modem feeds the internet connection to the router, which then distributes the connection to both computers. You can technically connect up to 4 computers to the router, which is why routers are great for distributing internet to many computers. :)

    That's the jist. Its only slightly different if you want to connect to broadband over phone lines instead of cable.
  9. Lau thread starter Guest

    You guys are officially amazing. Thanks for such useful and in-depth replies. I was totally clueless about broadband, but now I feel significantly less clueless.

    It looks as if Telewest is out, because of the area, unfortunately. NTL seems to have a really bad reputation! I'll look into some phone companies and get a router sorted out then.

    Again, thanks very much for the advice everyone.
  10. Peterkro macrumors 68020


    Aug 17, 2004
    Communard de Londres

    Just as an addon I also have this router and its fine but I was less than happy with my 1meg connection but didn't worry to much.Then I updater firmware on Netgear from orig. v3.0 to v5.0 25% speed increase plus 25% stronger wireless signal.Tested with Macstumbler and against my nieghbours network,which stayed ar same strength.So its a real increase not just a scale difference.Don't know how or why but very pleased. :p
  11. Stormyguy macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2002
    UK (Sussex)

    Lots of good advice there! Glad you like your PB - my 12" PB is my best travelling companion ever!

    I use a really nice small company for my ISP and Broadband. I can always raise them on the phone if I have a prob (rarely) and they are small enough to care - see them at

    I use a D-Link router, you get a fixed IP address and my airport express plugs in and gives me wireless no worries. They also have a pretty good antispam system for your e-mail.

    If you need any advice or anything drop me an e-mail.

  12. Mord macrumors G4


    Aug 24, 2003
    i'd get demon and a adsl modem router type thing, i too live in the uk and in a non blue yonder area and i have a d-link 504 router and 512K/bit connection, beware of usb adsl modems they quite frankly suck, they tend to disconnect and the drivers are a pain + if your pc is turned off you cannot connect to the internet with a usb modem.
  13. Stormyguy macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2002
    UK (Sussex)
    Agree totally :)
  14. Lau thread starter Guest

    Thanks for all your suggestions. We're still looking into it (and scraping the cash together!) but I feel we can make an educated choice now, thanks to you all.

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