Broadband has changed our lives, allowing us to communicate quickly, entertain ourselves, get news from a range of sources and keep in touch with family members all over the world.

Superfast fibre optic broadband like BT Infinity offers speeds up to five times faster than the average speed of standard UK broadband, and is available in more and more places.  But what has been the impact of superfast broadband – and what will it allow us to do in the future? Let’s find out…

Opportunities in rural areas

Fibre optic broadband like BT Infinity is making a huge difference to the lives of those in rural areas.

Projects like Superfast Cornwall have brought numerous benefits, enabling people to study remotely and access important services like the NHS for health information.

It also means there are more opportunities for people to live away from urban centres, choosing to work from home.

Superfast broadband has an economic impact, bringing opportunity and jobs to businesses. In Cornwall, it’s been rolled out to 95% of homes and businesses, helping to provide £186 million in economic benefits and creating and retaining 4,500 jobs. And that’s just in one region.

Fibre broadband even has an environmental impact: things like making video calls, rather than driving to a meeting, can help reduce our carbon footprint. It’s predicted that by 2020, Cornwall will have made a reduction of half a million tonnes.

Looking beyond the UK, the internet has the potential to make a dramatic difference to the lives of those living in poorer countries. Facebook is building a satellite to bring the internet to remote parts of Africa, as part of the Internet.org project, bringing education and ecommerce opportunities.

[Read more: Cloud computing  and the cloud explained]

Increased data use

On a more personal level, we’re using the internet more and more. Ofcom says data consumption has doubled since 2012, with the average household using 58GB of data over broadband per month. And this is going to increase in the future, as we put more demands on our home broadband, so fast broadband like BT Infinity will be essential.

Graphic of broadband speeds

Clever – and connected – gadgets

Within our homes, we’re seeing more appliances that can connect to the internet – also known as ‘the internet of things’. Gadgets like the Nest Learning Thermostat, Philips Hue lighting system and Smarter iKettle – so-called smart devices – connect to the internet, meaning they can be controlled remotely using a smartphone. So if you’re going to be late home, you can turn your heating off from your desk using your phone (meaning you save money!). Many connected devices can also work together: for example, if the Nest Protect smoke alarm detects a fire, it can communicate with the Nest thermostat, which automatically turns itself off.  

[Read more: The connected and smart home explained]

Bigger, better storage

One of the most useful features of modern computing is the Cloud. The Cloud is a method of digital storage, where the internet – rather than a device – is used to store your files. Services like BT Cloud allow you to store photographs, videos and documents in the Cloud, where they are accessible from any device. Computer programs and apps can also be run from the Cloud.

Great entertainment

The days of being forced to choose between five terrestrial channels for an evening’s entertainment are long gone. More of us are streaming and downloading shows and movies from services like BT TV or Netflix – which according to Ofcom 4.4 million household subscribe too.

The new standard in television is Ultra HD or 4K – which has four times the amount of detail as HD and requires a fast broadband connection such as BT Infinity, because it uses a lot of data. Ultra HD brings more realistic, lifelike images to our TV screens, and it’s something more and more of us will be using in the future – not least because of BT launched the first Live Sport 4K channel.

Whether it’s the internet of things, downloading movies, uploading photos to the Cloud or watching Ultra HD TV, faster broadband is going to be essential for quicker downloads, seamless streaming and more.

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