The Internet is an astonishing entity, allowing us to be connected to every corner of the world in order to communicate, seek out information, do business, and even have fun. Years ago, our connections to the Internet were limited to dial-up access, which hogged our home telephone lines and uploaded and downloaded information at a snail’s pace. Today, though, we have the fortune of being able to connect at what seems like breakneck speed in comparison with our old 28.8 Kbps modem, with the arrival of broadband Internet access.
Basically, broadband Internet access provides the user with a high data-transmission rate Internet connection. Any connection of 256 Kbps (kilobits per second) is considered broadband Internet. Because of the high rate of data transference, it is also commonly known as high-speed Internet. This is ideal for uploading large files including pictures and music, as well as downloading larger files in a fraction of the time it used to take with dial-up.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) identifies broadband Internet access as 200 kbps in one direction, and advanced broadband Internet as 200 kbps in both directions (uploading and downloading). There is not a single standard rate of transmission that has been set industry wide, however. Therefore the term broadband can mean much lower transmission speeds, depending on the ISP (Internet Service Provider). Some ISP’s take advantage of this, unfortunately, and promote slower transmission rates as broadband, unbeknownst to the customer oftentimes. In addition, because ISP’s often allow more customers to subscribe to their high-speed Internet service that they can usually handle, the bandwidth that they promote is rarely available.
Right now, there are three basic types of broadband Internet access available to the general public. The first one, known as DSL, is the standard broadband technology available. DSL (digital subscriber line) originated in 1988, when the Internet as a public entity was still in its infancy. It is still widely available today, mostly through telephone companies, as that is the technology that is required for DSL.
On the coattails of DSL in broadband Internet popularity is the cable modem. Cable modems provide comparable data transmission rates to DSL, though uploading data is usually a bit quicker still with DSL. However, the advantage of cable modems is that is does not tie up your home telephone line. Cable modems can also be used to provide telephone service (VOIP), and more cable companies are jumping on that bandwagon all the time. Often, though, cable modem service comes at a price. Cable companies are frequently hesitant to offer broadband Internet access without the customer subscribing to a certain level of cable television programming as well. For most people, this isn’t usually a big issue.
One major obstacle of broadband Internet access is that it is often difficult to provide the service to rural areas, due to technological constraints. The costs to connect outlying areas is high, therefore the technology is often slow to reach the regions outside of more densely populated urban areas. There is a solution, and technology has looked to the sky to provide yet another means of providing broadband Internet access to the masses.
Satellite Internet is a newer type of broadband Internet access, and is ideal for areas where land-based Internet access is not an option (such as on boats). It is more expensive, but is often the only way of getting Internet access of any kind in rural areas. The drawback of Satellite Internet is often the delay problem, due to the signal having to travel through space to the satellite and back to Earth again. This problem can be exacerbated because of any number of atmospheric conditions, from rain to sunspots. Fortunately, it really only affects those who participate in Internet gaming or use streaming video feeds. The delay is not really noticeable when using the Internet for email of other basic Internet services.
Broadband Internet access provides the computer user with a quicker way to enjoy the Internet. You don’t have to tie up your home phone line anymore to check your email, and you don’t have to be cut off from cyberspace if you have an incoming call. The speed of data transmission is vastly improved over dial-up Internet, which is a lot less frustrating when uploading or downloading large files. The best thing about broadband Internet access is that the cost for service is going down all the time, thanks to the competition of the various ISP’s. By doing research, you can find the right type of broadband Internet access to fit your individual needs.