Broadband has made Internet access a pleasure. Gone are the days when one sat around waiting for connectivity and spent time and money is getting a mail off the desktop to a remote computer! Today pages open instantaneously and one can keep in touch with remote locations and business partners sitting thousands of miles away across continents. Broadband has truly flattened the world and made faraway places like Austrailia, truly, the next door neighbor of America.
What is Broadband?
The term Broadband is used to describe a high capacity, multi frequency, communication channel that is designed to enable transmission of voice, data and video at high speeds across a network. The speed of transmission is defined as bits per second and megabits per second. A 256 kbps is considered the minimum requirement for a bandwidth to be christened a broadband connection.
Technologies to deliver Broadband Services
Broadband services are delivered to the end user through various technologies. They are discussed below:
* DSL Internet or Digital Subscriber Line Internet:
* Cable Internet
* Wireless Internet
* Broadband Over Wireless Networks
* Satellite Internet Services
DSL Internet or Digital Subscriber Line Internet:
This technology uses your existing telephone line as a medium to deliver broadband services (both voice and data simultaneously) by ensuring that the DSL signals and the telephone signals do not interfere. This is done by using audio frequencies below 6000 Hz for telephone signals and frequencies above 6000 Hz for DSL Internet signals.
The advantages of DSL
* No need for any new equipment - the existing copper telephone wires would do.
* Constant speed
The disadvantages of DSL
* As the DSL signals tend to attenuate over distances exceeding three and a half kilometers, a service provider cannot provide services to an end user staying beyond that distance.
* Upload speeds and download speeds vary.
This technology uses the co-axial or fiber-optic cables, carrying data in the form of light pulses, to deliver high speed internet and television channels by splitting the cable into two – one connected to the television and the other to the computer.
Though it enjoys the advantage of availability, low cost maintenance and delivering better bandwidth, the following disadvantages outweigh the advantage:
* Varying connection speed
* Upload speeds and download speeds vary.
* Potentially large installation costs.
As the name indicates, this technology does not use wires or cables for internet connectivity. Instead it uses ‘antennas’ to transmit and receive data. The data is sent to towers located in the area or vicinity, which is re-broadcast and received by antennae installed at the homes of the end users. As there are no physical wires or cables to transmit or receive data, the disadvantages usually associated with other technologies such as DSL or Cable is not applicable in this case. The biggest advantage of this technology is availability of internet access to users who are on the move. For instance, you can have internet access through your cell phone or through a data card connected to your laptop. Moreover the coverage area is wide.
Broadband over Wireless Networks
This technology uses what are called Wife Hotspots to deliver broadband services within a broadcast range of a few hundred feet. Generally this technology is made good use of by business houses to provide broadband access to their employees or customers.
An extension of this technology over a wider geographical area (unto 20 miles) is through a network called Wireless ISP (Internet Service Provider). Under this technology a signal is broadcast from a base station which is received by a fixed wireless antenna at the customer’s premises.
Satellite Internet Services
This technology uses satellite for delivering broadband. Data signals are sent from a computer to a satellite orbiting in a defined path far above the Earth’s atmosphere. The data signals are sent back from the satellite to the ISP and ultimately to the end user. Satellite broadband service is of two types: One-way and Two-way. In ‘One-way’ data is downloaded through satellite and uploaded through a telephone line. In ‘Two-way’ connections both download and upload data are done using satellite. Since latency period (the period during which data transfer is almost nil, though calculated in fractions of seconds) is high enough to affect uploads it is not advised for web hosting or other internet applications. Upload speeds are relatively slow. Of course, the cost is also prohibitive.