What Is Broadband? [telecom]

Broadband refers to always-on, high-speed internet access and is increasingly seen as a requirement for modern life. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) benchmark for high-speed internet is at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads.


Accessing Broadband

Broadband can be obtained through a variety of services.

  • Fiber optic technology, through a series of steps, transmits data through hair-sized glass fibers at speeds exceeding other broadband technologies. While fast, fiber has limitations in its availability from the high cost of creating its network infrastructure.

  • Cable modem service enables cable operators to provide broadband using the same coaxial cables that deliver pictures and sound to a user's television.

  • Digital subscriber line (DSL) is a wireline transmission technology that transmits data over traditional copper telephone lines already installed to homes and businesses.

  • Wireless broadband can be mobile or fixed. It connects a home or business to the internet using a radio link between the customer's location and the service provider's facility. Topography and manmade structures can prevent availability to some wireless networks.

  • Satellite broadband is another form of wireless broadband and is useful for serving remote or sparsely populated areas.

  • Broadband over powerline (BPL) is an emerging technology that uses existing low- and medium-voltage electric power distribution networks to deliver broadband to homes via existing electrical connections and outlets. BPL is available in very limited areas.

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***** Moderator's Note *****

My mind boggles, really and truly: not only does some public servant in the Lone Star state think that DSL is "Broadband," after citing the FCC standard of 25 Mbps download, but (s)he is allowed to imply that "Broadband over powerline" is even viable as a data transport layer for *ANY* speed(1).

This publication was a once-over-lightly screen-scrape copy-and-paste that some junior staffer phoned in on the way home after a day spent pretending that knowing a few buzzword acronyms is the same thing as reporting on facts.

Bill Horne Moderator

  1. The FCC'S "Getting Broadband Q&A" page,
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    , doesn't even mention BPL, which is a very bad "solution" in search of an imaginary "problem."
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