Broadband is the name given to a high-speed Internet connection that provide large bandwidth. It is a quick connection, typically "always-on" and capable of transmitting data at a much faster rate than a standard dialup modem connection. Broadband also won't tie up your phone line, allowing you to use the internet and telephone simultaneously. Broadband can be provided from a dedicated line such as Cable or ISDN, or over the top of your phone line such as ADSL.
Low-band Internet access is typically running up to 56kbps using a dial-up modem. Mid-band Internet is a phrase given to dialup that operates at 64kbps or 128kbps. Broadband starts at 512kbps (approximately ten times faster than typical dialup) and is also typically available at 1mbps, 1.5mbps and 2.2mbps. Some companies offer broadband at 4mbps and 8mbps. The maximum possible for cable is around 26mbps and 24mbps for ADSL although these speeds are not sold commercially due to the high cost required to upgrade telephone lines to be able to transmit at this speed.
With broadband you can quickly download or stream music and video. Many websites are designed especially for broadband users with intense integrated graphics, flash and video. Another popular use of broadband is online gaming. Xbox and PS2 consoles include broadband support, by subscribing to gaming packages from your ISP you can play Xbox and PS2 games live with other people over the internet. Online PC gaming has been around since the early days of the internet, but now with faster speeds there is less lag (slow or jerky response from the computer making it hard to play) and you are no longer keeping an eye on the time as you play, making it much more popular. Many recent games are released requiring an internet connection, without them you simply cannot play.
With users so keen on downloading music and video most broadband providers have introduced a maximum limit on the amount you can download. This can be as low as 1 GB up to 30 GB for power users, or unlimited for the extreme. Exceeding your ISP's download cap will result in you having a limit connection for the rest of the month or none at all.
The future of broadband is the possibility of Internet Television. Currently there is not enough bandwidth (the amount of data you can send and receive down the line) to give as good an image as of a standard television. But with ever increasing internet speeds Internet Television will soon be with us. You can already legally download clips from your favourite shows, music videos and other content you would normally find on your television, just not in real time. Another use developed because of broadband is online telephony. Software that enables you to turn your computer into a telephone and talk to people from across the world without any extra cost is not only commonplace but of a higher quality recording than standard telephone lines. It seems with ever increasing Internet speeds, Broadband will be able to replace television, telephone and will soon become a welcome addition to every home. Broadband is helping the internet become an extensive resource that's easy to access and fun to use.
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