Is There a Difference Between High-speed Internet and Broadband

I was talking with a friend on-line recently. He’s been trying to convince his father to purchase high-speed internet. During our discussion the question “What’s the difference between High-speed internet and Broadband?” came up. It got me thinking, when you see phone companies advertising DSL they usually do refer to it as High-speed Internet. On the other hand when you see cable companies advertising their high-speed internet, they usually refer to it as Broadband. Aside from the technical scientific and dictionary definitions of these words I would like to take a moment to clarify the muddied waters.

He, probably like a lot of you, thought there may be a difference in the two services. It’s a logical conclusion. They go by different names, they must be different right? Let’s examine what they both are. DSL and Cable Internet access both offer an “always-on” connection to the internet. They both provide speeds greater than any you’ll ever see on a dial-up connection. They both allow you to be on the internet and on the phone at the same time. They both run somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 clams a month. They both require you to purchase, or lease in some cases, an additional modem device in order to receive the service. They both offer the promise of a better, faster internet where music, movies, tv shows, digital phone, lightening fast downloads, file sharing, instant messaging, access to a wealth of information and financial data is suddenly at your fingertips. You can have several things going all at once all thanks to your high-speed er, uh, broadband internet connection. They also both make you more vulnerable to viruses, spyware, and attacks.

So, what’s the difference between High-speed and Broadband? Well, not much. The terms are simply, as far as the consumer(you) is concerned, a marketing technique. It’s a method to sell you a service. It’s a tactic to sound superior to the competition. So which one actually sounds better? Your guess is as good as mine. To me, they’re interchangeable. I will use the term high-speed in one sentence and the term broadband in another.

Well, that’s great mister Deconfuser man, but that still doesn’t help me make my decision as to which is better. Ah, but it does. As far as service and speed go, they’re basically the same. Virtually identical. So you see, the decision simply boils down to price. Which one is the best use of your dollar? I can’t answer that question for you, but I can give you some information to help you decide which is worth the expense.

When purchasing high-speed broadband internet access look for the speed to price comparisons. The more speed or “pipe” you buy the more it’s going to cost you. Most offer a lite or starter package that’s still faster than dial-up but isn’t their top speed offering. This is usually fine for emails, chat, paying bills and such. If you have kids or need the connection for work or business then you’re going to want the best money can buy. Kids love downloading looooots of things off the internet, and will let you know very quickly that your family’s connection is well…slow Mom. So here you go, a modem’s top speed is 56Kbs that’s 56 kilobytes/second which is 56,000 bytes/second. The fastest broadband connection around here that I know of is 3Mbs, or 3 mega-bytes/second, or 3,000,000 bytes/second.

I hope this helps you to understand the lack of difference between broadband and high-speed internet. I also hope it helps in determining where you want to spend your money.

A shameless plug here: I’ll be offering some classes over at Wilkes Community College on Spyware, how to know you’ve been infected, removal, and protection this summer. Check out their website or call Wesley Poplin in Continuing Education 336.838.6207 for more information.

This article was last updated on: 29 Mar 2006