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Broadband Internet

What is broadband?...

Broadband Internet access, often shortened to "broadband Internet" or just "broadband", is a high data-transmission rate internet connection. and cable modem, both popular consumer broadband technologies, are typically capable of transmitting 256 kilobits per second or more, starting at approximately four times the speed of a modem using a standard digital telephone line.


Broadband Internet access became a rapidly developing market in many areas in the early 2000s; one study found that broadband Internet usage in the United States grew from 6% in June 2000 to over 30% in 2003.

Modern consumer broadband implementations, up to 30 Mbit/s, are several hundred times faster than those available at the time of the popularization of the Internet (such as ISDN and 56 kbit/s) while costing less than ISDN and sometimes no more than 56 kbit/s; though performance and costs vary widely between countries.

Overview

Broadband is often called high-speed Internet, because it usually has a high rate of data. In general, any connection to the customer of 256 kbit/s (0.256 Mbit/s) or more is considered broadband Internet. The International Telecommunication Union Standardization Sector (ITU-T) recommendation I.113 has defined broadband as a transmission capacity that is faster than primary rate ISDN, at 1.5 to 2 Mbit/s. The FCC definition of broadband is 200 kbit/s (0.2 Mbit/s) in one direction, and advanced broadband is at least 200 kbit/s in both directions. The OECD has defined broadband as 256 kbit/s in at least one direction and this bit rate is the most common baseline that is marketed as "broadband" around the world. There is no specific bitrate defined by the industry, however, and "broadband" can mean lower-bitrate transmission methods. Some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use this to their advantage in marketing lower-bitrate connections as broadband.

In practice, the advertised bandwidth is not always reliably available to the customer; ISPs often allow a greater number of subscribers than their backbone connection can handle, under the assumption that most users will not be using their full connection capacity very frequently. This aggregation strategy works more often than not, so users can typically burst to their full bandwidth most of the time; however, peer-to-peer file sharing systems, often requiring extended durations of high bandwidth, stress these assumptions, and can cause major problems for ISPs who have excessively overbooked their capacity. For more on this topic, see traffic shaping. As takeup for these introductory products increases, telcos are starting to offer higher bit rate services. For existing connections, this most of the time simply involves reconfiguring the existing equipment at each end of the connection.

As the bandwidth delivered to end-users increases, the market expects that video on demand services streamed over the Internet will become more popular, though at the present time such services generally require specialised networks. The data rates on most broadband services still do not suffice to provide good quality video, as MPEG-2 video requires about 6 Mbit/s for good results. Adequate video for some purposes becomes possible at lower data rates, with rates of 768 kbit/s and 384 kbit/s used for some video conferencing applications, and rates as low as 100 kbit/s used for videophones using H.264/MPEG-4_AVC. The MPEG-4 format delivers high-quality video at 2 Mbit/s, at the high end of cable modem and ADSL performance.

Increased bandwidth has already made an impact on newsgroups: postings to groups such as alt.binaries.* have grown from JPEG files to entire CD and DVD images. According to NTL, the level of traffic on their network increased from a daily inbound news feed of 150 gigabytes of data per day and 1 terabyte of data out each day in 2001 to 500 gigabytes of data inbound and over 4 terabytes out each day in 2002. View the Wikipedia Breakdown Of Broaband

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Price Comparison of Major UK Broadband Providers

Service Speed Price Limit
BT Broadband 8MB** £9.95* 2GB
BT Broadband 8MB** £14.99* 6GB
BT Broadband 8MB** £22.99* 40GB
       
AOL Broadband 1MB** £14.99 None
AOL Broadband 2MB** £24.99 None
AOL Broadband 8MB** £29.99 None
       
NTL Broadband 1MB** £8.99* None
NTL Broadband 4MB** £12.49* None
NTL Broadband 10MB** £17.49* None
       
Telewest Broadband 2MB** £8.99* None
Telewest Broadband 4MB** £12.50* None
Telewest Broadband 10MB** £17.50* None
Click for more broadband comparisons...
Last Updated: 30 August 2006
*Introductory Rate
**Theoretical connection speed


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Service Speed Price Limit
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