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5. Broadband and Wide Area Network Services > A Definition of Broadband

A Definition of Broadband

A Definition of Broadband Broadband services are defined as high-capacity network access services able to transmit large amounts of voice, data, and video simultaneously. The definition of broadband is not limited to signals carried over wireline media such as fiber optics, coaxial cabling, or twisted-pair copper cabling deployed in carrier networks. It applies to highspeed wireless services, as well. See Table 5-2 for a list of broadband services used on wired networks. Wireless broadband services are discussed in Chapter 7, “Mobile and Wi-Fi Networks,” and Chapter 8, “Mobile Carriers Worldwide.” A report commissioned by the Broadband Forum and conducted by the market analyst firm Point Topic revealed that there were a total of 484 million fixed-broadband subscribers at the end of the first quarter of 2010. The report covers only broadband access over cabling and fixed, point-to-point wireless services. China had the most subscribers at 112.6 million. The country with the second most was the United States, with 87 million subscribers. These findings were reported in a June 16, 2010 ZDNET article by Victoria Ho, titled “China Adds More Broadband Lines.” Many people in less-developed parts of the world access the Internet primarily over mobile services. This is because dedicated Internet access over landline networks is frequently either not available or more costly than mobile services in these areas. In addition, electricity is often expensive. In the Philippines, both ISP-delivered dedicated Internet access and electricity are too costly for most citizens. Thus, mobile services are attractive as electricity is only required for charging laptops, tablet computers, and other devices that are equipped with mobile capabilities. Moreover, a single device can be used to make calls and to access sites such as Facebook. While current mobile networks support broadband services, they’re slower than those over most wireline networks. However, new technologies and upgrades to existing technologies are expected to vastly improve Internet access on mobile networks and spur adoption of mobile broadband. Fourth-generation (4G), high-speed mobile protocols such as Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) and Long-Term Evolution (LTE) are in various stages of development, testing, and implementation. In addition to fourth-generation mobile services, worldwide mobile carriers are upgrading existing third-generation networks. There is large growth potential for higher-speed broadband access in Latin America, Africa, and even China, where, according to a report by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), as of June 2010, only 7.7 out of every 100 inhabitants had fixed-broadband access. In parts of Latin and Central America and Africa, less than one out of every 100 inhabitants has fixed-broadband access. For many of these areas, many experts believe that most residential subscribers will continue to use mobile services as their primary broadband access. In the future, as mobile services continue to improve, no one knows how many subscribers in developed countries will drop their landline service and depend on only their mobile device for both voice and Internet access. Actual Speeds versus Advertised Speeds: The Discrepancies Are Large In a report released August 16, 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stated that in the United States, consumers generally get only half of a provider’s advertised speed on their broadband service. In 2009, the average broadband speed offered by providers was 7Mbps to 8Mbps. However, the FCC’s report revealed that the actual median speed was 3Mbps. This is because providers advertise maximum speeds rather than actual attainable speeds. Maximum speeds are rarely achieved due to factors such as network congestion, slow-loading web sites, and underperforming routers. The FCC report criticizes the advertisement of maximum speeds rather than actual, attainable speeds. The FCC stated that it plans to work with consumer and industry groups as well as technical experts and the National Institute of Standards and Technology on advertising and measuring actual speeds.

  

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