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A band with a wide range of frequencies.


A class of communication channel capable of supporting a wide range of frequencies, typically from audio up to video frequencies. A broadband channel can carry multiple signals by dividing the total capacity into multiple, independent bandwidth channels, where each channel operates only on a specific range of frequencies.

The term has come to be used for any kind of Internet connection with a download speed of more than 56 kbps, usually some kind of Digital Subscriber Line, e.g. ADSL. A broadband connection is typically always connected, in contrast to a dial-up connection, and a fixed monthly rate is charged, often with a cap on the total amount of data that can be transferred. Domestic broadband connections typically share a telephone line with normal voice calls and the two uses can occur simultaneously without interference.

See also baseband, narrowband.


(1) High-speed transmission. Broadband commonly refers to Internet access via a variety of high-speed wired and wireless networks, including cable, DSL, FiOS, Wi-Fi, WiMAX, 3G, 4G and satellite, all of which are faster than earlier analog dial-up by a huge magnitude.

A Formal Definition
In 2015, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) redefined the minimum broadband speed as 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up, updating the 2010 rating of 4 and 1 Mbps. The term always referred to a higher-speed connection, but the threshold varied with the times. Years ago, the widely deployed 1.5 Mbps T1 line was considered broadband speed. However, based on the 2015 definition, more than 50 million rural Americans did not have access to broadband speeds.

Public Vs. Private
The broadband term is sometimes used to contrast a public provider with a private network. For example, the phrase "broadband works for regular traffic in our branches, but we use private lines for our mission critical business." See broadband router, wireless broadband, T1, cable modem and DSL.

(2) Transmitting data by modulating a carrier wave in order to differentiate it from other signals in the air or in a wire. For example, frequency division multiplexing (see FDM) is used to carry hundreds of channels of digital TV in a single coaxial cable. In this context, broadband is used in contrast with "baseband," which refers to data that have not been modulated or multiplexed (see baseband and TDM). However, in most cases, the term "broadband" means high-speed transmission as in definition #1 above.

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