15 Jan What is “Broadband”, Anyway?
“Broadband” refers to a network that connects users to digital information or other users. We use one every day we read our e-mail, order something over the Internet, watch Netflix, or visit our children over Facebook. It is a high capacity network, the meaning of “broad.” However, broadband covers a wide variety of networks with an even wider variety of capacities, creating enormous opportunities for confusion. It is rather like the phrase transportation network that can cover everything from city streets to the systems we use for air travel.
We have been lucky in the United States to have several ways of creating broadband networks from legacy wiring systems. The system that connects the WiFi router in your home to a remote resource can use old telephone wiring, old cable television wiring, new fiber optic wiring, wireless satellite connections, or wireless mobile network connections. The most common in our region today is old cable tv wires. But the old systems are running out of capacity; the copper wiring has inherent limitations. The future for broadband networks is fiber optic wiring, already connecting twenty million homes in America.