The constant emergence and evolution of technology may make it difficult for most users to keep up. In the 1990s, the public began to adopt Internet and e-mail use. Twenty years later, computers, e-mail and the Internet are so ubiquitous in homes and libraries that very few question someone's ability to access the technology. However, the barrage of terminology to define the technology bringing that internet into homes can be confusing, and many do not know the difference between broadband Internet service and high-speed Internet service.
The terms are in essence, synonymous. Broadband started out as a generic term to describe high-speed data communication. This term literally meant a bandwidth that is broad enough to handle a lot of data at the same time--much like the difference between a two-lane street and a multi-lane freeway. Broadband internet service, then, is literally high-speed internet service.
High-Speed Internet is internet service that is fast. All high-speed Internet service is provided on some type of broadband technology - aDSL, cable or satellite. Wireless mobile Internet service and fiber-optic cable are a broadband technologies that emerged for general consumers in the early 2000s.
There are a lot of different types of broadband Internet service. Some are more suited for large organizations that require a large network of users to be on at the same time. The average home user also has options when deciding on the type of broadband service and the service provider.
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is usually offered through the phone companies' existing copper phone lines. Most phone companies require you to have basic phone service through them before you can acquire DSL, but AT&T offers DSL Direct for those who don't wish to have a land line.
Satellite and Cable Companies offer high-speed internet and phone services in addition to their television services.
For the average home user, the quality, speed and cost of the broadband service is comparable and competitive no matter the provider. However, not all services are available in all areas.
There are many benefits to having broadband internet service. With higher speeds, users are able to access more sophisticated web content such as embedded video or Flash-based games. Also, users are able to talk on the phone while connected to the Internet. Consumers were not able to do this with dial-up service. If you're in a home with multiple computers and multiple users, broadband service will allow most users to be online at the same time with a simple network setup.
Not all broadband are created equal. Most Internet service providers (ISPs) provide different levels of broadband service. The lowest level of service is usually the most economical. The lowest advertised rates offered by Broadband ISPs will be for the lowest speed considered to be broadband. Some providers also differentiate between upload (when you send data) and download (receiving data) speeds.
Keep in Mind
Even if you pay for the higher bandwidth levels, you won't always achieve those upload and download speeds. Heavy Internet traffic at peak times can hinder your uploads and/or downloads, much like rush hour traffic on the highway. If your home network includes multiple users with different levels of usage, your Internet speed will slow dramatically when more of the users are on at the same time.
While it is possible to connect many computing machines (including game consoles with Internet capabilities and wireless printers), doing so can cause connectivity issues with the other users and devices on your network. If you are in a household with a lot of users, you may want to subscribe to one of the higher bandwidth tiers.