What is broadband? This term refers to high speed Internet access that is always available. It allows for more online content to be transmitted, than through the phone lines, such as streaming media, VoIP, gaming and interactive services.  

There are several types of broadband connections, such as digital subscriber line (DSL), cable modem, fiber, wireless, satellite and broadband over powerlines (BPL).


DSL is a transmission technology that transmits data faster over traditional copper telephone lines that exist in homes and businesses. The accessibility and speed of DSL service depends on the distance from a home or business to the closest telephone company facility.

Cable modem service permits cable operators to provide broadband, using the same coaxial cables that they use to deliver pictures and sound to your TV set. Cable modems allow both broadband and media to be transmitted simultaneously.  The transmission speed will vary depending on the type of cable modem, cable network, and traffic load. Speeds are comparable to DSL.

Fiber optic technology converts electrical signals carrying data to light, and sends the light through transparent glass fibers about the diameter of a human hair. Fiber transmits data at speeds that far exceed current DSL or cable modem speeds. The actual speed will vary depending on multiple factors, such as how close to the computer the service provider brings the fiber, and how the service provider configures the service, including the amount of bandwidth used. The same fiber providing your broadband can also simultaneously deliver voice (VoIP) and video services, including video-on-demand.


Wireless broadband connects a home or business to the Internet using a radio link between the customer’s location and the service provider’s facility. Speeds are generally comparable to DSL and cable modem. An external antenna is required.

Wireless broadband Internet access services offered over fixed networks allow consumers to access the Internet from a fixed point while stationary and often require a direct line-of-sight between the wireless transmitter and receiver.

Wi-Fi networks utilize devices that are intended for private access within a home or business, or operated for public Internet access at "hot spots" such as restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, airports, convention centers, and city parks. Mobile wireless broadband services are also available from mobile telephone service providers.

The same satellites that deliver telephone and television service can provide broadband. This type of broadband helps to service remote or sparsely populated areas. The speeds for satellite broadband depend on the provider and the service package that is purchased, the line of sight to the orbiting satellite, and the weather.

Satellite speeds may be slower than DSL and cable modem, but the biggest problem is disruption during extreme weather conditions.

BPL is the delivery of broadband over the existing low and medium voltage electric power distribution network. BPL speeds are comparable to DSL and cable modem speeds, and it can be provided to homes using existing electrical connections and outlets. BPL is an emerging technology that has limited availability. It has considerable possibilities because power lines are installed almost everywhere, eliminating the need to build new broadband facilities

Nearly 100 million Americans do not have broadband at home and 14 million can't get it even if they wanted broadband with 42% of disabled Americans without broadband. The federal government has allotted $7 Billion to achieve a longstanding goal of making broadband available to millions of Americans who either cannot afford it or do not have access to it. The money will underwrite nearly 300 broadband projects across the country. The government believes that widespread availability of broadband is critical to sustaining America's global competitiveness.

With the rapid explosion of wireless cellular systems over the last decade, fundamental changes to “anytime, anywhere” mobile Internet access has presented new challenges for the research community. Promising next generation improvements will cover more advanced antenna technologies on mobile platforms, enhanced network topologies, cross-layer and co-operative transmission techniques, as well as 5G broadband.

5G could be with us within the next five years. The average household’s broadband connection now would take 20½ hours to download a 50 gigabyte blu-ray movie disc, while at 5G’s peak speed it would take 40 seconds.

Analysts estimate that there are 50 billion connected devices worldwide, including smartphones, tablets, smart watches, kitchen appliances, cars, reality games and even smart clothes. While we’re still in the middle of the 4G revolution with this superfast mobile data service still in its infancy, vendors are pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into research and development of 5G.

One of the main benefits of 5G technology over 4G will not be its speed of delivery, which could be between 10Gbps and 100Gbps, but the latency. Presently, 4G response is between 40ms and 60ms, which is low-latency but not enough to provide real-time response. Multiplayer gaming, for example, requires a lower latency than that to ensure that when you hit a button, the remote server responds instantly.

Broadband is considered by many health care professionals to be the next great frontier of American medicine. The high-speed transmission capability of broadband has generated efficiencies in medical care, such as faster patient diagnoses, reduced medical errors, and control over patient care costs.

Broadband allows for learning opportunities by making available educational materials and course instruction, which previously could only be delivered in a classroom setting. Rural schoolchildren can take advanced placement courses, while working parents can pursue a degree after putting the kids to bed.

Several major national cell-phone carriers have introduced technology that brings DSL-quality speed to any mobile device within range of a cellular signal, including laptop computers. With some carriers, you can send e-mails, instant messages, browse the Web, watch TV shows, listen to streaming radio stations, download songs and music videos, share photos, play games and even record and share live video during a phone call.

There is a new event that tackles the future of broadband head on – BroadbandVision, which will take place October 1-3 in Las Vegas. The goal with BroadbandVision is to acquaint the attendees with relevant knowledge and tools so that they can help formulate and execute the vision for the broadband carrier ecosystem.

To answer questions on Wikipedia, watch movies on Netflix, update family and friends' information on Facebook, or to Skype around the world, broadband is the answer. Without broadband's higher speeds of internet connectivity, none of this would be possible.

For more information:

  1. http://www.cse.wustl.edu/~jain/cse574-14/ftp/bwa/
  2. http://portal.calix.com/portal/calixdocs/mktg/w/gig/Building_the_Gigabit_City.pdf
  3. http://www.corning.com/docs/opticalfiber/wp6321.pdf
  4. http://cfp.mit.edu/publications/CFP_Papers/CFP%20Mobile%20Broadband%20White%20Paper%20May%202014.pdf



Len Calderone – Contributing Editor



Len contributes to this publication on a regular basis. Past articles can be found in the Article Library and his profile on our Associates Page

He also writes short stores that always have a surprise ending. These can be found at http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Megalen


Len Calderone