What Exactly is Broadband?
These days, "broadband" is a word that is thrown around easily in telecommunications and internet lingo, but the average consumer may not have a clear understanding of how broadband is defined. It's easy to understand why; the technology industry defines it in different ways as well.
So how is broadband defined? The online Webster's dictionary defines broadband as "A class of communication channel capable of supporting a wide range of frequencies, typically from audio up to video frequencies. A broadband channel can carry multiple signals by dividing the total capacity into multiple, independent bandwidth channels, where each channel operates only on a specific range of frequencies." Let's take a look at each part of the definition.
The first part of understanding broadband defined in straightforward terms is to think about the phrase a "class of communication channel."
So, we can gather that it is different from the normal class of communication channel that we use - our regular phone lines. Phone lines, also called baseband lines, normally carry 29.6kbps of analog data when used for voice communications. But with the advent of the internet, people began to demand faster data transmission. A regular, baseband phone line can carry up to 56kbps of data with the help of a high-speed modem, but without additional technology, that is its maximum capacity.
That wasn't nearly fast enough to keep up with the average person's demand for and dependency on the internet. Which brings us to the next portion of broadband defined; a broadband connection is capable of carrying a wider range and type of frequencies, meaning different types of data. Not only that, it can carry it faster.
If you imagine your connection to the internet as a tunnel that links your computer to the internet, a regular phone line can allow only a small amount of data to pass through at a time. In comparison, a broadband is a wider (or broader) tunnel, allowing a greater amount of information to pass through your connection at one time. With broadband service, you can download different types of frequencies as well, such as audio and video files.
The FCC's (Federal Communications Commission) has broadband defined in their publications as any internet connection with a download speed that is greater than 200 kbps. However, some companies don't consider a connection to be broadband unless it runs at a minimum of 256kbps.
Also, many companies only consider a connection to officially be broadband if it is always connected. In other words, if you don't have to "dial-up" to make the connection.
Usually, the connection is made with either DSL technology, which runs over your existing analog telephone wire, or by a cable connection, which runs over the same coaxial cable that your cable television service does. So broadband defined, while somewhat debated by industry professionals, does include some agreed-upon points.
It allows you to use the internet to its potential by permitting you to download a wider range of data types. And because the download speed with a broadband connection is faster than a regular, baseband connection, it is also called high-speed internet service. So you'll also be able to use the internet faster and more efficiently.
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