In data communications, a “broadband connection” is a connection with a high speed of data transfer (greater than 56 kbps). Generally, it is fast enough to support streaming video.
In telecommunications, broadband is wide bandwidth data transmission which transports multiple signals and traffic types. The medium can be coaxial cable, optical fiber, radio or twisted pair.
In the context of Internet access, broadband is used to mean any high-speed Internet access that is always on and faster than dial-up access over traditional analog or ISDN PSTN services.
Different criteria for “broad” have been applied in different contexts and at different times. Its origin is in physics, acoustics, and radio systems engineering, where it had been used with a meaning similar to “wideband“, or in the context of audio noise reduction systems, where it indicated a single-band rather than a multiple-audio-band system design of the compander. Later, with the advent of digital telecommunications, the term was mainly used for transmission over multiple channels. Whereas a passband signal is also modulated so that it occupies higher frequencies (compared to a baseband signal which is bound to the lowest end of the spectrum, see line coding), it is still occupying a single channel. The key difference is that what is typically considered a broadband signal in this sense is a signal that occupies multiple (non-masking, orthogonal) passbands, thus allowing for much higher throughput over a single medium but with additional complexity in the transmitter/receiver circuitry.
The term became popularized through the 1990s as a marketing term for Internet access that was faster than dialup access, which was limited to a maximum bandwidth of 56 kbit/s. This meaning is only distantly related to its original technical meaning.
Since 1999, broadband has been a factor in public policy. In that year, at the World Trade Organization Biannual Conference called “Financial Solutions to Digital Divide” in Seattle, the term “Meaningful Broadband” was introduced to the world leaders leading to the activation of a movement to close digital divide. Fundamental aspects of this movement is to suggest that the equitable distribution of broadband is a fundamental human right
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