• >
  • Guides>
  • The most and least understood broadband terms in the UK and US

4th February 2021

The most and least understood broadband terms in the UK and US

Despite the fact there are an estimated 4.6 billion active internet users across the globe, many individuals still don’t understand the meaning of various broadband-related tools and terms.

To discover just how clued-up the UK and US populations are when it comes to broadband terms, BroadbandDeals.com conducted a study into the understanding, familiarity, and number of Google searches for each term, before revealing how the knowledge held by the US and UK population compare.

What are the most and least understood broadband terms in the UK?

To discover which technical broadband terms are most and least understood and recognised by Brits, we surveyed 4,200 respondents to reveal the terms that baffle us the most.

The least understood broadband terms in the UK

Table ranking the least understood broadband terms UK.

According to the survey, the term ‘throttling’ was the broadband term least understood by Brits. Used to describe the process where an internet service provider intentionally slows down your internet service speed to manage traffic, the term was not understood by more than 4 out of 5 respondents (81%). However, this is unsurprising given that a further 72% of those surveyed had never heard of the word.

Despite being recognised by 97% of those surveyed, 5G was the second least understood broadband term in the UK, with 72% saying they did not understand it. 5G is the most recent global generation of mobile networks, promising higher speeds, greater network capacity, increased performance, and better efficiency than the generations before it.

Openreach and Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) were the third least understood broadband terms in the UK, with 68% of those surveyed admitting to not understanding the two terms. Of those surveyed, just under half (49%) of respondents had never heard of WAP, and 37% had never heard of Openreach, the UK’s largest broadband network.

Not understood by 66% of respondents, Download Speed was the fourth least understood broadband term in the UK, despite just over two-thirds of respondents having heard of the term before. Broadly speaking, the term describes the speed at which digital data is transferred onto your device from the internet. You can calculate your download speed here.

Meanwhile, the fifth least understood broadband term was IP Address (also known as an Internet Protocol address), which 65% of those surveyed in the UK said that they did not understand. However, only 6% of respondents had never heard of the term which is used to describe a unique numerical label that is assigned to each device using the internet.

The most understood broadband terms in the UK

On the other hand, our survey revealed these technical terms to be most understood by those in the UK:

Table ranking the most understood broadband terms UK.

Gigabyte was the best understood broadband term, with an impressive 87% of respondents claiming to understand it. It was also the term that the respondents were most familiar with, with only 2% of respondents saying that they had never heard of the term used to describe a unit of information.

You may also like: What are bits and bytes?

In second and third were Superfast Broadband and Streaming, which 82% of respondents claimed to understand. Only 11% of respondents had never heard of streaming, and only 5% had never heard of superfast broadband.

The fourth most understood broadband term in the UK was Broadband Speed, which 77% of respondents understood and only 2% of respondents had never heard of. The term is fairly self-explanatory and is usually measured in megabits per second and used to describe how quickly your internet connection can be used to upload or download data.

Malware was the fifth most understood term, with 72% of those surveyed claiming to understand it, whilst just under a tenth (9%) of respondents had never heard of it before. Malware is a software specifically used and designed to interfere with, damage, or gain access to a computer system without authorisation, making it a common form of hacking.

The sixth most understood term was Router, with 71% of respondents understanding the word, and just 5% never having heard of it before.

The broadband terms baffling Brits the most

To discover which broadband terms the UK population most struggle to grapple with, or are most keen to understand, we analysed Google search data to understand how frequently Brits are seeking a definition for various broadband-related terms.

Table ranking most searched broadband terms UK.

A definition was most sought after for VPN, with monthly searches reaching 27,100 for the term in the UK, which is equivalent to 407 monthly searches per 1 million population. VPNs are often used to establish private, secure, and encrypted connections by creating a private network. The term VPN was also the most searched for broadband term in the UK in general, boasting an average monthly search volume of 165,000.

What is 5G’ was the second most searched for in the UK, receiving a monthly average of 22,200 searches, which equates to 333 searches on average each month per 1 million population. The broad term ‘5G’ also boasts a hefty search volume, with 74,000 searches on average each month.

With 14,800 Brits seeking a definition on average each month, IP Address was the third most searched for broadband term. In fact, the query for a definition was made 222 times on average each month in the UK, per 1 million population.

What is Malware’ had the fourth highest average monthly search volume in the UK, with 8,100 searches on average each month. This is equivalent to an average of 122 searches per 1 million population.

With 54% of survey respondents claiming to not understand the term, Bandwidth was the fifth most searched term for when it came to finding a definition online. In fact, ‘What is Bandwidth’ had 3,600 monthly searches on Google, on average, and the term is used to describe the maximum rate of data transfer over a connection during a specified amount of time.

What are the most and least understood broadband terms in the US?

To understand the most and least understood broadband terms across the pond, and to investigate whether the US is better acquainted with broadband terms, we surveyed 4,200 Americans.

The least understood broadband terms in the US

Table ranking the least understood broadband terms US.

According to the survey, 5G was the least understood broadband term within the US, with 84% of respondents claiming to not understand the term, despite the fact that only 2% of those surveyed had never heard of it.

The second least understood broadband term was ‘Throttling’ — the UK’s least understood term overall. Of the respondents, 83% of participants did not understand the term, whilst just under three quarters (74%) of respondents claimed to have never heard of it.

IP Address ranked as the third least understood broadband term in the US. Also known as Internet Protocol Address, the term was not understood by 77% of those surveyed, and just under a fifth of respondents (19%) having never heard of the term before.

This was shortly followed by Bandwidth, which was understood by just 3% more of survey respondents. Over a quarter (26%) of US respondents surveyed said they had never heard of the term, whilst just under three quarters (74%) of respondents said they did not understand the term, which is used to describe the maximum amount of data that can be transferred over an internet connection in a specified time period.

Interestingly, by comparison to the UK where Gigabyte was the most understood broadband term, Gigabyte was the fifth least understood broadband term in the US. Of those surveyed, 73% of respondents said that they did not understand the term, despite only 6% never having heard of it before.

The most understood broadband terms in the US

Table ranking the most understood broadband terms US.

Superfast Broadband was the best understood broadband term in the US, with almost 9 in 10 (89%) respondents claiming to understand the term, whilst only 3% had never heard of it. Superfast Broadband services tend to use technology such as fibre-optic cables to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your broadband.

Streaming was the US’ second most understood broadband term, with 82% of respondents saying that they understand the word, and only 9% having never heard of it. As many know, streaming is a term used to describe the process of transmitting or receiving data (most usually video or audio material), continuously and steadily over a computer network - like Netflix.

The third most understood broadband term in the US was Broadband Speed, as 81% of those surveyed were revealed to understand the term, and only 8% of those surveyed never having heard of it before.

Usage Allowance was the fourth best understood broadband term in the US, with 76% of people claiming to understand it, and only 15% never having heard of it. This is an important term since it defines the maximum amount of information or data that you can transfer across the internet within a defined period of time.

The fifth most understood broadband term in the US was Fibre Optic Broadband, which was also the eighth least understood broadband term in the UK. Of the US respondents, 75% understood what Fibre Optic Broadband was or entailed, and only 4% had never heard of the term before. Renowned for its high speed, this kind of broadband uses fibre optic cables, which are far more effective at transferring data than ordinary copper cables are.

You may also like: What is the difference between cable and fibre-optic broadband?

The broadband terms baffling Americans the most

To gain a deeper insight into the extent to which the US understands certain broadband terms, we also analysed search volume data for each term to reveal which terms the US are most eager to understand and seek the definition of.

Table ranking most searched broadband terms US.

Users seeking definitions for either 5G or VPN boasted the most searches, with an average of 110,000 per month in the US. This search volume equates to 1,650 average monthly searches per 1 million population, making the two broadband terms the most searched for across the pond.

IP Address was revealed to be the broadband term that the US was second most eager to understand, with 40,500 searches on average each month seeking a definition of the term. In fact, the broad term IP Address racked up a total average of 246,000 searches each month in the US.

What Is Malware’ and ‘What Is Streaming’ both ranked as the third most searched for terms for the US, with both receiving 18,100 monthly searches on average - equivalent to 272 average monthly searches per 1 million population. The broad term Malware received 49,500 searches on average each month in the US, whilst the broad term Streaming received 74,000 monthly searches on average.

With 14,800 monthly searches on average, Router appeared to be the broadband term that the US was the fourth most intrigued to learn the definition of - equivalent to 222 average monthly searches per 1 million population. The broad term Router was also the fourth most searched for broadband term in general, with an average monthly search volume of 246,000.

A comparison between the US and UK

To find out how the UK and US’ understanding of broadband terms compared, we calculated and compared the search volume data per one million population, for both jurisdictions, revealing the following:

America had a higher search volume per million people when it came to seeking definitions for 14 of the 20 broadband terms. The UK only had a higher search volume for terms such as Usage Allowance, Fibre Optic Broadband, Openreach, Broadband speed and Superfast Broadband, for example.

Our research also found that, across all of the terms combined, the UK made an average of 1,302 searches for definitions each month, per 1 million population. Meanwhile, the US made a far greater amount, with an average of 5,006 searches per 1 million population each month for definitions of the same terms.

In fact, we discovered that the UK made fewer searches for all of the broadband terms combined than the US did for the terms 5G or VPN alone, as both of these terms racked up an average monthly search volume of 1,650 per one million population in the US.

When it came down to the survey, there were certain terms that the US had a far better understanding of than the UK. For example, Openreach and Fibre Optic Broadband were among the broadband terms best understood by US respondents surveyed, but among the least understood terms when it came to the UK survey.

Likewise, terms such as Gigabyte and Malware were among the best understood broadband terms in the UK survey but were also among the least understood terms in the US survey, which suggests that the two jurisdictions vary considerably when it comes to how well they understand different terms.

Methodology:

  1. BroadbandDeals.com trawled through thousands of broadband terms, across multiple reputable editorial sources to collate a list of the most common 20 broadband terms.

  2. BroadbandDeals.com then searched each term on Google Keyword Planner in the United Kingdom and the United States to see how many monthly searches each term has.

  3. When determining how many searches are made on average each month to find the definition of certain broadband terms, BroadbandDeals.com studied the search term ‘What is X?’, replacing X with each term.

  4. BroadbandDeals.com surveyed 4,200 Brits and 4,200 Americans to see how many of the terms they knew, didn't know and had never heard of.