08/30/2019 | BYPOR Nichole Rostad

Broadband: why does everyone talk about it?

A true “broadband” internet connection is without a doubt the most desirable form of internet today. But what does the term “broadband” really mean?

Broadband is a type of high-speed internet connection that is named after the wide “band” of frequencies available to transmit information. It’s less important to know all the technical details than to understand that broadband simply means more room for data to be transmitted. Think about a highway: the more lanes it has, the more cars can navigate on it at higher speeds. Broadband is important for today’s internet because of the many applications that use a lot of data. You need that wider highway to transmit all that data, because if everyone’s on a two-lane highway, the data can’t flow as quickly and the internet is slow.

Broadband access makes it possible for users to accomplish a lot of tasks across their favorite devices at the same time. The speed will depend on the provider of each service.

Not all broadband is the same

The quality of a broadband service is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Bits are the smallest units for measuring data, and one megabit is more than one million of those units. The speed at which these bits travel tells us how effective the “highway lanes” of our broadband are: the higher the number, the faster the service. This way we can download music and documents faster, stream or upload videos and games, make phone calls online, visit websites and more.

There is no worldwide definition of what broadband speeds are. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission defines broadband as download speeds of at least 25 Mbps. In Mexico, no concrete definition of broadband has been established, but the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says subscriptions with speeds of 256 kbps or higher are considered broadband.

How broadband is delivered

The most common technology for delivering broadband is with cable. A more recent technology delivers the signal through optical fiber, a form of cable that has greater data transmission capacity.

While cable and fiber are good options, their disadvantage is that they are typically limited to areas with higher populations. Cable and fiber need to be buried in the ground, and if there are only a handful of homes in a certain area, it doesn’t pay for those companies to run the line into such a sparsely populated community.

That’s one of the reasons satellite internet is seen as the key to connecting billions of people worldwide who are in areas unserved or underserved by cable and fiber. Since satellite delivers the signal directly to a home or business, expensive infrastructure is not required to deliver the service. All that’s needed is a small antenna dish on the building and clear line of sight to the satellite over the equator.

Satellite internet is already available in many places around the world, and recent innovations have enabled it to provide broadband speeds and high-capacity data transmission.

Viasat’s satellite internet provides more than just the ability to deliver service directly to a home or business, the technology also allows users to access community Wi-Fi at affordable prices. The concept is simple: the dish is installed in a central location and the signal is shared over Wi-Fi in small, affordable increments. It’s a great option for people who might not be able to afford having their own service.

In Mexico, almost 3,000 hotspots of Viasat Community Wi-Fi have already been installed.

So, while broadband speeds are important for accessing today’s internet, the availability of the service is also key. If cable and fiber providers can’t or won’t bring service to your area, satellite internet from Viasat could be an excellent choice.