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Definition: broadband


(1) A type of transmission that uses frequency division multiplexing (see FDM).

(2) 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, 4G, 5G and satellite, all of which are faster than earlier analog dial-up by a huge order of magnitude.

A Formal Definition
Broadband always refers to the higher-speed connection, but the threshold varies with the times. Decades ago, the widely deployed T1 line at 1.5 Mbps (1.5 megabits/second) was considered broadband. For the ever-increasing official speeds, see broadband minimum speed. See Broadband Facts.

Gigabits and Terabits Per Second
Starting in the 2010s, download speeds for Internet access reached the gigabit-per-second range from various ISPs throughout the U.S. and Canada. For example, Comcast's Xfinity service offers 9.6 Gbps (down) in various locations. In 2023, China announced its first terabit-per-second network (see Tbps).

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 wireless broadband, T1, cable modem and DSL.