Broadband in telecommunications refers to a signaling method that includes or handles a relatively wide range (or band) of frequencies, which may be divided into channels or frequency bins. Broadband is always a relative term, understood according to its context. The wider the bandwidth, the greater the information-carrying capacity. In radio, for example, a very narrow-band signal will carry Morse code; a broader band will carry speech; a still broader band is required to carry music without losing the high audio frequencies required for realistic sound reproduction. A television antenna described as "broadband" may be capable of receiving a wide range of channels; while a single-frequency or Lo-VHF antenna is "narrowband" since it only receives 1 to 5 channels. In data communications a digital modem will transmit a datarate of 56 kilobits per seconds (kbit/s) over a 4 kilohertz wide telephone line (narrowband). However when that same line is converted to a standard twisted-pair wire (no telephone filters), it becomes hundreds of kilohertz wide (broadband) and can carry several megabits per second (ADSL).
Broadband in data can refer to broadband networks or broadband Internet and may have the same meaning as above, so that data transmission over a fiber optic cable would be referred to as broadband as compared to a telephone modem operating at 56,000 bits per second. However, a worldwide standard for what level of bandwidth and network speeds actually constitute Broadband have not been determined.
However, broadband in data communications is frequently used in a more technical sense to refer to data transmission where multiple pieces of data are sent simultaneously to increase the effective rate of transmission, regardless of data signaling rate. In network engineering this term is used for methods where two or more signals share a medium. Broadband Internet access, often shortened to just broadband, is a high data rate Internet access--typically contrasted with dial-up access using a 56k modem.
Dial-up modems are limited to a bitrate of less than 56 kbit/s (kilobits per second) and require the full use of a telephone line--whereas broadband technologies supply more than double this rate and generally without disrupting telephone use.
The definition of broadband
How do you define broadband? Like many people, I think of broadband Internet as high-speed Internet. But, after reading my blog from yesterday about Oman's Internet solution, some kind folks forwarded me the definition of broadband. Fair enough.
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