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The term broadband refers to the bandwidth and speed of connectivity access to the Internet and other networked digital applications. Anything faster than a dialup modem connection over a copper phone line, is generically termed ‘broadband’. ‘Narrowband’ dialup and faster DSL access connections generally use existing phone lines. Cable services are provided over larger coaxial cables, and there is increasing use over fiber optic lines. Satellite services require a dish antenna, to receive signals from communication satellite systems in Earth orbit.


Comparison of Common Access Speeds (Includes Range Estimates)


kpbs = kilobits per second; mbps = megabits per second

Downstream: speed of data flowing from the Internet to the user’s computer.

Upstream: speed of data flowing from the user’s computer to the Internet.

Companies offer tiers of bandwidth speed at varying prices, with faster speeds at a higher tier being more expensive.






56 kbps or less





384 kbps to 6 mbps

128 kbps to 600 kbps

Satellite Internet




512 kbps to 1.5 mbps

128 kbps to 256 kbps

Cable Broadband




4 mbps to 8 mbps

384 kbps to 768 kbps

Optical Fiber



5 mbps to 30 mbps

2 mbps to 5 mbps





Broadband Internet Access topic in Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia


Digital Subscriber Line topic in Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.


Cable Modem topic in Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.


Satellite Internet access topic in Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.


Fiber to the Premises topic in Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.


Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Strategic Goals. Broadband.


Benton Foundation Website. A Broadband World: The Promise of Advanced Services.

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