What Is Broadband?

Everything you need to know about broadband internet

Broadband is a term widely used to describe any form of high-speed internet connection which is always on and can transmit data through more than one channel at the same time.

Broadband internet connections are superior to the classic dial-up method which needed to be manually activated and was limited to performing one task at a time such as making a phone call or connecting to the web.

Two ends of a broadband internet ethernet cable.

AdrienneBresnahan / Moment / GettyImages

What Does Broadband Mean?

The technical definition of broadband is that of a method of data transmission that can support two or more traffic types simultaneously due to its capability of supporting a wide, or broad, band of frequencies.

Official broadband definitions can vary by region with some organizations limiting the use of the term to data speeds above a set minimum requirement. This is typically done to ensure that consumers are provided with consistent internet services by providers who could otherwise misrepresent inferior services as being better than they actually are.

For example, the FCC classifies a broadband connection as having a minimum download and upload speed of 25 and 3 Mbps respectively while Ofcom in the United Kingdom states that a broadband connection must have at least a download speed of 10 Mbps and an upload speed of just one Mbps.

What Types of Broadband Are There?

Many people think of broadband as a wired or cable internet connection but the actual physical implementation of the technology shows a much broader use that widens the broadband meaning quite a bit.

Here are some examples of broadband internet connections:

So, the answers to “What is broadband connection?” and “What is broadband internet?” can get a pretty different response depending on who you talk to and what options are available in your area.

How Can I Compare Broadband Deals?

When looking for the best broadband deals, it’s important to look at the fine print and compare the promoted and guaranteed upload and download speeds that each option can provide. Many providers will have a broadband compare chart on their website which will break down exactly what you can expect from each plan. Some may even be able to match broadband deals offered by other companies.

Be careful not to be biased against one form of broadband internet over another. A wired connection can often be faster but you may get better speeds from using a 4G broadband internet connection depending on where you live.

Be aware of what services are available in your area. You don’t want to pay extra for 5G connectivity when you’re only going to be capable of picking up 4G or even 3G.

What’s the Best Broadband Internet Service Option?

When choosing a broadband internet service provider, it’s important to consider the following:

  • What options are available for your building? Many apartment buildings are locked into specific plans for example.
  • Do you need to travel a lot? If so, a portable mobile option may be better for you.
  • Which option is really faster? Many Twitch streamers in Australia use 4G or 5G broadband internet due to the notoriously slow speed of the domestic wired options.
  • How much data will you need? If you’re planning on downloading and uploading a lot of data, you may prefer a slower option with a larger data cap.
  • What data speeds will you need? If you’re expecting to stream 4K movies via Netflix or use an online cloud gaming service such as Google Stadia or Project xCloud, you’ll need to check which plans will be able to cope.

In addition to researching your broadband internet options when signing up for a plan, it’s equally important to check in with your provider every year or so to see if any cheaper or faster options are available.