Broadband is a term that is used consistently with different types of Internet connections. Generally, it is referred to Internet connections over fiber optic cables rather than telephone lines. Broadband in telecommunications means a wide range of frequencies that are available to transmit information. This eventually means that, wider the range of frequencies available, higher the amount of information that can be sent at any given point of time. For an easy way to picture a broadband Internet connection compared to a narrowband Internet connection, think of a road highway. With an one-lane highway (narrowband), only one car can travel at a time, however, with broadband you can have a highway with 6 or 8 lanes, allowing more traffic to pass concurrently.
Narrowband vs. Broadband
Narrowband is usually referred to dial-up Internet connection and it usually varies from speeds of about 50 bytes per second to about 60 Kbps. Broadband is usually regarded as any Internet connection that can deliver speeds faster than 60 kbps.
Types of Broadband Internet Connections
There are a few types of broadband connections available, some are faster than others and some are more expensive than others to use. Your need, budget and availability will usually determine which type of broadband Internet connection is right for you. The types of broadband Internet connections are:
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
ADSL is a popular broadband media for both commercial and residential Internet users in America. Most probably, anyone with a normal telephone line can usually purchase ADSL connection from their telephone provider. ADSL works via normal phone lines. One can usually talk on the normal telephone even if you simultaneously surf the Internet via the same telephone line. Speeds of ADSL vary, but are usually in the range of 128Kbps to over 5 Mbps when downloading data. Uploading is much slower, usually about 56K to 1 or 2 Mbps depending on the configuration. A normal dial-up modem works usually at 56Kbps. The fastest ADSL broadband connection can deliver speeds that can be up to 89 times faster or more. It is also important to note that ADSL is usually marketed as DSL to make the name of the product sound less confusing and compact. ADSL usually costs from about $30 to $60 per month.
Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line (SDSL)
SDSL is very similar to DSL service, in a way that it is also provided by your telephone company over preexisting telephone lines, however, SDSL has upload speeds that are the same as download speeds. For example, if you have 1Mbps download, you will also have 1Mbps upload speed. It is important to note that SDSL requires an additional phone line for this service to work properly. However, for most businesses, it is well worth the expense. SDSL can be more costly than ADSL and can cost from about $60 to $100 per month or more for residential customers.
If you have cable TV, you already know that TV signals are piped in through the cable running from the cable company into your home. Your Internet broadband connection runs via these preexisting cables. Cable broadband is a very popular product in America and in some markets much more popular than ADSL. Speeds of cable broadband vary, but are usually from 2 Mbps to over 8 Mbps. Download speeds are much faster than upload speeds and the cost is very similar to ADSL.
Just like wireless telephones transmit data from one phone to another, so can wireless broadband. While it is not as popular due to the availability and newness of the technology, it is becoming more widespread. Usually all that is required is to connect your wireless phone to your laptop computer, essentially making your mobile phone a wireless modem. Speeds vary, but you can usually find speeds from 128 Kbps to about 2 Mbps for downloading data. Expect this technology to boom in the coming years and for speeds to increase as well. Prices also vary, but range from about $60 to about $200.
Satellite broadband is usually one of the only ways to receive broadband Internet access if you live in a rural area. You use a satellite dish with some special hardware to receive and send data to a satellite in earth's orbit. This service is usually more expensive than others, not only requiring a special satellite dish and special equipment, but also higher fees than cable or ADSL options. Usually speeds vary from 128kbs to about 2 Mbps.
Leased lines are usually the answer for large businesses and organizations such as colleges and universities. They are large cables (usually fiber optic) that carry large loads of data. While the first leased lines sometimes referred to as T-1 lines carried about 1.5 Mbps several decades ago, today's leased lines approach half a gigabyte or more per second. The cost varies, based on many factors and its use for residential consumers is usually very cost prohibitive.