Broadband technology provides several different options for connecting people and devices for the purpose of communicating and sharing information. Each offers different features or is designed to support specific needs. It is important to have a clear understanding of the several broadband technologies and how they can best support a customer.
Cellular technology enables the transfer of voice, video, and data. With a cellular WAN adapter installed, a user can access the Internet over the cellular network. There are different cellular WAN characteristics:
- 1G - Analog voice only
- 2G - Digital voice, conference calls, and caller ID; data speeds less than 9.6 Kb/s
- 2.5G - Data speeds between 30 Kb/s and 90 Kb/s; supports web browsing, short audio and video clips, games, and application and ring tone downloads
- 3G - Data speeds between 144 Kb/s and 2 Mb/s; supports full-motion video, streaming music, 3D gaming, and faster web browsing
- 3.5G - Data speeds between 384 Kb/s and 14.4 Mb/s; supports high-quality streaming video, high-quality video conferencing, and VoIP
- 4G - Data speeds between 5.8 Mb/s and 672 Mb/s when mobile, and up to 1 Gb/s when stationary; supports IP-based voice, gaming services, high-quality streamed multimedia, and IPv6
Cellular networks use one or more of the following technologies:
- Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) - Standard used by the worldwide cellular network
- General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) - Data service for users of GSM
- Quad-band - Allows a cellular phone to operate on all four GSM frequencies: 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, and 1900 MHz
- Short Message Service (SMS) - Data service used to send and receive text messages
- Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) - Data service used to send and receive text messages and can include multimedia content
- Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) - Increased data rates and improved data reliability
- Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) - Improved upload speeds and QoS
- High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) - Enhanced 3G access speed
A cable Internet connection does not use telephone lines. Cable uses coaxial cable lines originally designed to carry cable television. A cable modem connects your computer to the cable company. You can plug your computer directly into the cable modem, or you can connect a router, switch, hub, or multipurpose network device so that multiple computers can share the connection to the Internet. Like DSL, cable offers high speeds and an always-on service, which means that even when the connection is not in use, the connection to the Internet is still available.
Broadband satellite is an alternative for customers who cannot get cable or DSL connections. A satellite connection does not require a phone line or cable, but uses a satellite dish for two-way communication. The satellite dish transmits and receives signals to and from a satellite that relays these signals back to a service provider, as shown in the figure. Download speeds are up to 1 Gb/s; uploads are closer to 10 Mb/s. It takes time for the signal from the satellite dish to relay to your ISP through the satellite orbiting the Earth. Due to this latency, it is difficult to use time-sensitive applications, such as video gaming, VoIP, and video conferencing.
Fiber broadband provides faster connection speeds and bandwidth than cable modems, DSL, and ISDN. Fiber broadband can deliver a multitude of digital services, such as telephone, video, data, and video conferencing simultaneously.