Broadband is a term that we hear and use commonly but it is never explained properly. So what is broadband internet and how is it different from other types of internet?
To find the answer, we will go over the definition of broadband internet and its different types.
What is Broadband Internet?
Broadband internet uses a wide range of frequencies to carry data and deliver faster speeds compared to dial-ups and other internet types. That is why it is commonly referred to as a high-speed internet connection.
A broadband connection is established through a network of cables that have untapped frequencies. These cables can either be fiber optics, coaxial cables, or your phone lines and are used to connect users with internet service providers.
Moreover, it breaks down all the information into digital signals known as “bit”. Once the user is connected to the network, these digital signals or bits of data are sent and received using those untapped frequencies from one end to another and result in internet access.
Types of Broadband Internet
According to FCC, “to be classified as broadband, an internet connection must reach the download speed of up to 25 Mbps whereas the upload speed should be up to 3 Mbps”. That is because broadband internet generally prioritizes downloads rather than uploads.
By keeping that criteria in mind, there are four major types of broadband internet.
- Fiber (can offer download speed of 1000 Mbps or more)
- Cable (offers download speed of up to 1000 Mbps)
- DSL (can offer download speed of up to 100 Mbps)
- Satellite (normally offers download speed of about 25 Mbps)
Let’s have a quick look at all these connection types to find out more.
Satellite Broadband Internet
On this list of broadband internet types, satellite internet is the first option we are going to talk about. It is the most widely available internet service option and can literally reach anywhere as it uses a satellite to offer connectivity instead of a wired network.
However, the downside is that the satellite is thousands of miles away in space. That increases the latency of the connection and makes it slower.
Not just that, the download speed offered by satellite internet providers is less than what other connection types have to offer. For instance, HughesNet (America’s top choice for satellite internet) offers a download speed of up to 25 Mbps across all HughesNet internet plans.
Similarly, Viasat offers a download speed of up to 100 Mbps but that is a rare sight to see and is super expensive.
Cable Broadband Internet
Cable internet is among the most commonly available broadband internet options in the US with a strong presence in urban areas. The reason behind that is cable internet uses the existing coaxial cable infrastructure in place for cable TV. Since the internet connection has its own untapped frequencies so it doesn’t get affected by cable TV signals.
The good news is that cable internet can offer a download speed of up to 1000 Mbps. However, the plans with a download speed of up to 400 Mbps are used commonly by cable internet customers.
So, if you are concerned about the speed and availability, cable internet is the best option to go for.
DSL Broadband Internet
DSL, the third broadband internet option, uses phone lines to send and receive signals and offers internet access to its users. Comparatively, it is much better than the dial-up connections because your internet doesn’t affect your voice signals. Both use different frequencies and operate independently.
The positive aspect of DSL broadband connection is that it is often available in rural areas. So, those who are far from cities can also get access to good internet services.
On the other hand, it is not as fast as cable or fiber internet. The maximum download speed that it can offer is up to 100 Mbps and even that speed is not available everywhere.
Fiber broadband internet is the fastest internet connection that offers a download speed of up to 1000 Mbps and more. The biggest advantage is that you will not just get a good download speed but also the upload speed would be the same.
That makes fiber a great option if you are working from home, are a gamer, or stream videos in high definition. On top of that, if you want to connect multiple devices at the same time, such as in the case of smart homes or multiple users, you can do that easily via a fiber internet connection.
The only downside of fiber is that it is the least widely available internet option in the US. The infrastructure for fiber is currently under development and it will take some time to make it available for everyone.
As our second lead editor, Emery Sinclair provides guidance on the stories DellOne2One contributors cover. Before joining our team, she was a freelance journalist for several publications including the Huff Post and Poly Gen. Emery received a BA and and MA from the University of Michigan