What is Broadband?

At its most basic, broadband is reliable, high speed internet access. It can be mobile, home-based, wireless or wired, but it connects you to the world of information and opportunities available on the internet!

How does it work?

Through broadband, digital bits of data are transmitted through several technologies—phone lines, digital subscriber lines (DSL), wireless connections, coaxial cable, and fiber optics—from the internet to your computer or device and vice versa. These connections are always on rather than something you have to activate every time you use it. The various technologies determine the speed of your connection, with cable and fiber having much more capacity than wireless, DSL, or phone lines. The speed of your connection determines how fast you are able to access graphics, videos, songs, and other forms of information..

Broadband Technology and Speeds

The speeds available via each of these technologies varies greatly depending on the type of equiptment used both within the network and in your home, the number of users in your area, your distance from the main infrastructure, etc. The speeds listed below are not necessarily available through these technologies in your area.

Broadband Technology Download Speed Range Connection
DSL 768 Kbps - 50 Mbps Phone Line
Satellite 400 Kbps - 10 Mbps Wireless Satellite
Wireless 768 Kbps - 10 Mbps Wireless
3G 50 Kbps - 1.5 Mbps Wireless
Cable Modem 1 Mbps - 1 Gbps Coaxial Cable
WiMax Up to 128 Mbps Wireless
Fiber Up to 100 Gbps Fiber Optics
4G / LTE Currently up to 10 Mbps Mobile Wireless

How fast?

To qualify as a broadband connection, your speeds must be at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream (from the internet to your computer—like watching a video) and 3 Mbps upstream (from your computer to the internet—like posting a picture online). Broadband connections can be much faster than the 4mbps minimum. The average speed in the US was 26.68 Mbps in 2016 according to the 2016 5th Annual International Broadband Data Report. However, 40% of rural residents do not have access to broadband speeds as opposed to only 4% of urban Americans.

The faster your connection is, the faster you can load pages, stream videos, upload files, and send messages. Depending on your needs, the capacity you want to purchase will be different.

1.5 Mbps Email Web Browsing
3 Mbps Email Web Browsing Media Streaming
5 Mbps Email Web Browsing Media Streaming Video Chat
10+ Mbps Email Web Browsing Media Streaming HD Video Chat HD Online Gaming

There are a few things to keep in mind as you identify the speed you need. The more people that will be using the internet, the more congested (aka slower) your connection will become. If you’re going to have several users in your home or office be sure and plan ahead by looking for faster internet service. Multiplying the speeds listed above by the number of users in your home can give you an estimate for your needed service to support strong speeds for each user.

If you’re looking to do things like two way video conferencing that require your computer to stream video/data out to the internet, you’re going to need to make sure your upload speeds are adequate to meet these needs. Utilzing some technologies, there are symetrical services available, but you should consider your uses and the traffic on your connection before deciding if symetrical is necessary for your business or home connection.