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Broadband access refers to accessing the Internet or other network using broadband communications technology and is usually described by its speed or bandwidth.


Broadband access to the Internet became available in the late 1990s. Broadband access differs from a dial-up connection in certain important ways.

First, broadband connections offer a higher-speed Internet connection than dial-up. For example, some broadband connections offer speeds exceeding 1 million bits per second (Mbps) both upstream (data transferred from the consumer to the Internet service provider) and downstream (data transferred from the Internet service provider to the consumer). These higher speeds enable consumers to receive information much faster and thus enable certain applications to be used and content to be accessed that might not be possible with a dial-up connection. The higher transmission speeds that broadband offers cost more than dial-up, and some broadband users pay a premium to obtain very-high-speed service.

Second, broadband provides an always-on connection to the Internet, so users do not need to establish a connection to the Internet service provider each time they want to go online. Although broadband often is referred to as a singular service, it is available in a wide variety of data speeds — ranging from 768 Kbps to greater than 100 Mbps.