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How Broad is Broadband? 441

Photon01 writes "The Register reports that UK ISP NTL have lost, in a ruling that their advertisement of their 128k broadband service as 'High Speed Broadband Internet' is misleading. This is despite it clearly meeting the technical definitions of broadband internet. Apparently 128k broadband is not broad enough." My first cable modem was only 256k. It wasn't blazingly fast but after being stuck on dialup it was heaven, and I imagine 128k wouldn't be so bad for a single household.
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How Broad is Broadband?

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  • relative (Score:5, Insightful)

    by customs ( 236182 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:13AM (#5708467)
    well, it's all realative. back in the mid 90's, dual channel ISDN was amazingly fast, and is what everyone wanted for their businesses. now a days, we know that ISDN isn't all that hot, and then the ADSL are to be considered lower end broadband. so how broad is broadband? well for me, right now, it's about 800k/sec sustained download from sunsite. kinda hot.
    • Re:relative (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrLint ( 519792 )
      Well..... everyone wanted some kinda of fast affordable internet link for thier business. ISDN was neither. It seemed that had to be next door to the telco office to get ISDN coverage. And the prices geez, rember seeing some things where ISDN was priced above a T1.

      Besides ISDN was a stillborn. Then, as today, the Telcos woudlntknow what infrastructure investment was if space aliens fame down and gave them faster than light superconducting wire.
      • ISDN was very popular (and still is) in europe.
    • Re:relative (Score:4, Informative)

      by dorzak ( 142233 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {kazrod}> on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:52AM (#5708625) Journal
      However, for reaching further from the CO, it is possible to do IDSL. It is 144k/144k symmetric, and is often marketed as a "business" class service. Therefore it has a business SLA, and often comes with a router and multiple static IP's. For example one major ISP sells it with a /29
      • Re:relative (Score:5, Informative)

        by Michael Hunt ( 585391 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @05:33AM (#5709010) Homepage
        IDSL is an interesting case. IDSL is broadband. ISDN isn't.

        How is this so? The various DSLs work by what is essentially an RF process, in the same way that cable modems, television channels, etc. do.

        The opposite of broadband, baseband, is represented by things like 10BaseT (note the word 'base') and refers to a non-modulated signal.

        As an aside, there was an early cable modem standard known as 10Broad36, from memory, which was 10 megabits with (I think) a 36 or 3.6GHz carrier signal. That's what the 'base' in 10BaseX, 100BaseX and 1000Base-XX means.

        So, it's technically possible to have a really slow (IDSL) broadband connection, yet have a really fast (1000Base-ZX, good for up to 70KM over 1510nm single mode fibre) baseband connection.

        Although, with the introduction of (D)WDM-style multiplexing, where several fibres can be modulated over one piece of fibre, the WDM part of the backhaul would still technically be broadband, as the various wavelengths are multiplexed onto one really clean piece of single-mode fibre at many slightly (I think they vary by about 100MHz in either direction, and the standard units are good for about 1.6GHz variance) different wavelengths.

        Broadband is a meaningless term, although these days it appears to have been redefined to mean 'anything faster than 64k or so', in much the same way that hacker now means 'evil computer guy in a black hat and an Anthrax t-shirt.'

        Disclaimer: i'm a network engineer, not an EE, so I've been deliberately vague about exactly how RF modulation and such actually work.

  • There's service marketed as broadband in my area that's around $35(US) a month for 256kbps down/128kbps up. Is that not broadband too?
    • not in my opinion for that price.

      I pay $45 a month for 1500kbps/256kbps, and since Im basically across the street from the switch I get it pretty regularly, usually I hover around 1200kbps/256kbps

      The operative word being My Opinion
  • Broad? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Zipster ( 555990 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:13AM (#5708473)
    Dunno about the rest of you, but my "broadband" connection is only a few millimeters wide...
    • " Dunno about the rest of you, but my "broadband" connection is only a few millimeters wide..."

      Your falling to fluff. What you see is deciving, your broadband is a fracton of a millimeter wide. ISP's just want you to think the sheething on that cat 5 is giving you a faster connection.
  • by grahammm ( 9083 ) <graham@gmurray.org.uk> on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:14AM (#5708474)
    This is what comes of marketting departments taking a technical term and redefining it. The opposite of broadband is not narrowband, but baseband (eg the defunct V.35).

    What can be done to stop sales and marketting (and politicians) from diluting perfectly good technical terms.
    • What can be done to stop sales and marketting (and politicians) from diluting perfectly good technical terms.Something nasty, hopefully involving electrodes.
    • That makes no sense. Seeing that your downstream signal on "broadband" comes in a 6 MHz slot, how is that any different from a baseband signal with a bandwidth of 6MHz? To me, baseband means "not modulated"
    • by Rick.C ( 626083 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @08:43AM (#5709632)
      What can be done to stop sales and marketting (and politicians) from diluting perfectly good technical terms.

      The solution to this problem has already been given by Douglas Adams at the end of Hitchikers' Guide.

      The scientists and techies convinced everyone that a large asteroid would hit the Earth in a few years. They decided to build three huge spaceships to ferry everyone off the planet. Since the marketeers and politicians were so important to the success of the new colony on a distant planet, they insisted that they should leave on the first ship so they could set up the economy and the government before everyone else arrived.

      As soon as the first ship left, the techies announced that there was no asteroid and the Earth was now free of marketeers and politicains.

      Remember this the next time you hear about an asteroid warning from the techies at NASA.
      • Firstly, it wasn't Earth that they came from, it was Golgafrincham. The middle ship actually *landed* (crashed) on Earth. Secondly, it wasn't marketeers and politicians, it was the useless middle stratum of society including advertising execs, hair dressers, marketeers, estate agents, telephone sanitisers and marketeers. Thirdly, it turned out to be not such a good move as - some years later - the remaining population were all wiped out tragically by a virulent disease contracted from dirty telephones.
    • Well, broadband *is* the opposite of baseband. Broadband is a modulated analog signal, while baseband is a digital signal.

      Ethernet is baseband. Despite the fact that Ethernet is from 10mbps-1gbps, it is NOT broadband because there's no modulation/demodulation that occurs in the signal.

      Broadband != fast. 56K dialup modem is broadband. ;)
  • mm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:14AM (#5708475)
    how many brands can a broadbrand brand if a broadband could broad brands?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:14AM (#5708476)
    When you buy gasoline, the octane rating is Required by law to be posted. A similar system of 'Broadband Octane', so to speak, would allow consumers to more effectively make decisions on internet access.
    In addition, there seems to be a growing trend of 'broadband' carriers who are slowly jacking down the bandwidth to each individual, either by packing in more consumers on a main line, or forcing the hardware to lower rates. In any case, more unsolicited disclosure would be welcomed.
  • Kind of Broadband (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bsharitt ( 580506 ) <bsharitt@LISPgmail.com minus language> on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:14AM (#5708480) Homepage Journal
    Here on the UAH campus network, They say it's broadband, but we get the speed and relability of dial up. I guess they think if you get a static IP and connect though an ethernet jack it's broadband.

  • by WegianWarrior ( 649800 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:14AM (#5708481) Journal

    I got ADSL myself, at 376kbs down and 128kbs up. It's not very broad for a broadband (indeed, some argue that ADSL can't be defined as broadband), but I picked it for quite another reason then bandwidth; I'm always on. And when you're used to pay for the minute, that's pretty darn important - I've saving about 50% each month compared to a dial-up connection. I would say that for my use, thats more important than the speed with wich I can D/L over P2P.

    • by Mike Buddha ( 10734 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:26AM (#5708544)
      Bandwidth makes zero differences when determining if a system is "broadband" or not.

      Broadband only refers to the transmission method, not the throughput. All that "broadband" means is that multiple, independant network carriers are multiplexed onto a single wire. That's the definition of "broadband". Your other option is

      Anyone who argues that ADSL isn't broadband is either ignorant of the meaning of the word, or ignorant of the technical details of DSL.

    • (indeed, some argue that ADSL can't be defined as broadband)

      My ADSL connection is 8Mb/s (1MB/s). Can that be defined as broadband?
      • > My ADSL connection is 8Mb/s (1MB/s). Can that be defined as broadband?

        I dunno, my car is forest green. Can it then be concidered fast?
        That makes about as much sense as what your asking.

        Being ADSL, yes it is broadband.
        It doesnt matter if you could only send 3 or 4 bytes per second, or gigabits per second, its still ADSL and thus still broadband.

        The best way to ask is, is anything else served over this carrier other than IP data? In the case with DSL, its phone service. In the case of a cable modem
  • Network Speed Chart (Score:5, Informative)

    by upt1me ( 537466 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:15AM (#5708489) Homepage
    13.21 Gbps OC-255
    10 Gbps OC-192
    4.976 Gbps OC-96
    2.488 Gbps OC-48, STS-48
    1.866 Gbps OC-36
    1.244 Gbps OC-24
    933.12 Mbps OC-18
    622.08 Mbps OC-12, STS-12
    466.56 Mbps OC-9
    155.52 Mbps OC-3, STS-3
    100 Mbps CDDI, FDDI, Fast Ethernet, Category 5 cable
    51.84 Mbps OC-1, STS-1
    44.736 Mbps T-3, DS-3 North America
    34.368 Mbps E-3 Europe
    20 Mbps Category 4 cable
    16 Mbps Fast Token Ring LANs
    10 Mbps Thin Ethernet, category 3 cable, cable modem
    8.448 Mbps E-2 Europe
    6.312 Mbps T-2, DS-2 North America
    6.144 Mbps Standard ADSL downstream
    4 Mbps Token Ring LANs
    3.152 Mbps DS-1c
    2.048 Mbps E-1, DS-1 Europe
    1.544 Mbps ADSL, T-1, DS-1 North America
    128 Kbps ISDN
    64 Kbps DS-0, pulse code modulation
    56 Kbps 56flex, U.S. Robotics x2 modems,
    33.6 Kbps 56flex, x2 modem communications rate
    28.8 Kbps V.34, Rockwell V.Fast Class modems
    20 Kbps Level 1 cable, minimum cable data speed
    14.4 Kbps V.32bis modem, V.17 fax
    9600 bps modem speed circa early 1990s
    2400 bps modem speed circa 1980s

    Units of Measurement
    bit = smallest unit of digital information, i.e. ones & zeros
    byte = a set of bits
    bps = bits per second
    Kbps = kilobits per second =1000 bits per second
    Mbps = Million bits per second =1,000,000 bits per second
    Gbps = Gigabits per second = 1,000,000,000 (one billion) bits per second
    Tbps = Terabits per second = 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) bits per second
    (Network speed is mesured in 1000 units, memory and storage space in 1024 units)

    • Notice the big gap between:
      1.544 Mbps ADSL, T-1, DS-1 North America
      128 Kbps ISDN
      Somewhere between those speeds seems like a good point to define the lower bound of "broadband". Personally I think 128K is too slow to really be broadband. 256K is marginal but probably qualifies. 512K is fast enough to be broadband.
    • It's funny... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by devphil ( 51341 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @03:53AM (#5708789) Homepage

      My home ADSL is 1.5Mb.

      Where I work (the R&D hub of the Air Force) has OC-12s and -48s and who knows what else, coming out of its ears.

      But the link from inside to outside goes through so many filters and firewalls that reading email, loading a web page, or trying to download the latest security patch goes far far faster at home than at work.

      (And it's not competing traffic from the rest of the base's inhabitants, either. Trying to pull stuff off the net in the middle of the night when nobody else is there isn't any faster. Grumble.)

    • by greggman ( 102198 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @04:08AM (#5708817) Homepage
      Missing from that list is the 12Mbps ADSL in Japan and the 24Mbps ADSL in Korea
    • Add:

      176 Kbps Ricochet [ricochet.com] spread-spectrum wireless (lower bound)
      430 Kbps Ricochet spread-spectrum wireless (upper bound)

      That's what I'm using now...faster than dial-up, you don't have to screw with the phone or cable company, and it works under Linux [electricminds.org]. Unfortunately, only people in Denver and San Diego can use it at the moment...

    • Errmmm, you know you're missing a HELL of a lot of services there don't you?

      512Kbps UK ADSL (BT), UK Cable Modem (NTL, Telewest)
      1024Kbps UK ADSL (BT, Bulldog, Internet Central), UK Cable Modem (NTL, Telewest)
      2048Kbps UK ADSL (BT, Bulldog)

      There are more besides...
  • Well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BJH ( 11355 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:16AM (#5708492)
    I'd say the problem was that it was marketed as high speed broadband. While 128Kbps may technically be broadband, I don't think many people would consider it to be particularly high speed.
    • More to the point, the services their competitors describe as "high speed" are all 512kbps or faster. So yes, this is a case of misleading advertising, as one might have expected from the fact that the body making the ruling was the Advertising Standards Authority...
  • by Mike Buddha ( 10734 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:18AM (#5708499)
    It's a terrible precedent when marketers and lawyers can define a technical term like "broadband". I wonder if they're going to define "baseband" for us as well?
    • Ah... advertising law is a wonderful field where wordsmiths clash.

      In many cases a copywriter manipulates language to make a dubious clash and then the advertised company gets sued by a competitor. The plaintiff lawyer has fun attacking it with reference to professional and consumer opinion (is Slashdot professional or consumer) and the defending lawyer has to say, it wasn't dubious, people are used to dubious advertising and take it with a pinch of salt and anyway dubious advertising doesn't effect their d
  • by WiPEOUT ( 20036 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:19AM (#5708510)
    They were advertising "high speed" broadband internet access. It may well be broadband, but it certainly isn't "high speed" broadband.

    "Low speed broadband" would have been more appropriate, but of course, they would've made their offering pale in comparison with real "high speed" broadband, so greed took over and caused them to advertise in a misleading fashion.
  • Latiency (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zackeller ( 653801 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:20AM (#5708513)
    Just remember that to the average user, a 128k ISDN line with relatively low latiency is going to feel much faster at their normal tasks than a faster connection with higher pings, such as satellite or even some cable modems. Broadband should include more than just throughput, it should be the sum of many factors.
    • True - for online gaming, 64k ISDN (all I can get here in the sticks) gives me even lower pings than people on ADSL or cable. Unfortunately this is only while playing the game, not in the initial server connection process, so often a RTCW server kicks me off and says "Server is for low pings only". I suppose the connection gets saturated with all the other data being received. Similarly, GameSpy reports pings of 400+ during refreshes, but once I'm actually playing it's more like 50ms.

      iD and GameSpy really

      • Re:Ping ownz0rs (Score:4, Informative)

        by Michael Hunt ( 585391 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @06:03AM (#5709118) Homepage
        An interesting term.

        You're most likely getting less latency on your ISDN than people do on their various *DSLs because of the crap way that almost every ILEC implements the CMUX->3rd party ISP transition.

        ISDN's theoretical minimum SRTT is ~30ms (15ms end to end.) This will vary based on your distance from the switch, and the router you're calling's distance from its switch, and the number of switches in the middle. Remember, ISDN is circuit switched, so once you've established a Q.931 call you 'own' that 64 kilobits of bandwidth until you hang it up. There's no contention (unless the router at the other end is being hammered by something and its CPU is peaking, but that's not a physical constraint.)

        DSL is usually sold by LECs to ISPs in the form of an ATM circuit that plugs into an L2TP LNS (concentrator.) A PPPoE/PPPoA connection is then established between the subscriber and the LEC's DSLAM, which then, acting as an LAC (l2tp client) forwards the circuit through the ATM network into the ISP's LNS.

        The issue here is analogous, but not identical, to the 'engaged signal' problem which dial ISPs had (and still have.) You only purchase so much capacity from your LEC. When the subscriber:capacity ration exceeds 1:1, you will inevitably get contention. In the circuit-switched world of dial, this results in busy signals. In the cell-switched DSL/ATM world, this results in contention for backhaul bandwidth, which causes an increase in ping times. In theory (assuming zero contention,) any DSL will be much faster than ISDN.

        I'll give you some (real world) examples. On my home, majorly oversubscribed, ADSL line (which is currently unladen,) a traceroute yields this:

        traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 38 byte packets
        1 0.548 ms 0.231 ms 0.225 ms
        2 1.092 ms 0.754 ms 6.590 ms
        3 51.111 ms 41.659 ms 89.890 ms

        The first 2 hops are the internal and external firewalls, respectively (yes, I am sad.) The third hop is the LNS at my ISP who shall remain nameless but is easily identifiable with a whois @whois.apnic.net.

        The 2 megabit SDSL connection I've got at work, into our own equipment (I work at a small company who owns its own SDSL infrastructure, essentially a LEC in their own right,) the traceroute yields this.

        traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
        1 203.x.y.1 0.805 ms 0.856 ms 0.705 ms
        2 203.x.z.1 1.577 ms 1.298 ms 1.184 ms
        3 2.583 ms 2.682 ms 2.084 ms
        4 203.x.a.97 3.097 ms 1.989 ms 2.064 ms

        Where, again, 203.x.y.1 (I don't plan to identify where I work in this post, because that path is fraught with danger) is the switch which separates the engineering subnet from management, wireless, and phone (which is almost invariably at 85% utilisation due to the broadcast nature of 3com NBXes). 203.x.z.1 is the SDSL router (a flowpoint 2200 if you're interested), and is the DSLAM. There is no backhaul ATM network in this scenario because we don't have resellers.

        Finally, off a friend's ISDN connection:

        traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
        1 0.996 ms 0.855 ms 0.870 ms
        2 30.416 ms 31.422 ms 30.518 ms

        This network is less complex. is the ISDN router at the ISP end. The link is unused at the moment as he's in the process of transitioning everything to an ADSL connection (oh, the irony.)

        The reason your pings go to shit in a game is because you're trying to stuff too much data down your 64k line, and the buffer in your modem/router is filling up. As this happens, it takes extra time for each packet to get from the end of the queue to the start thereof. Your pings go to crap and you get kicked off the server.

        Bandwidth and latency have an interesting relationship.
    • I'm still on ISDN (Yes, I don't have a choice), and the ADSL guys are blazing past me. Ever notice how a normal web page is can quickly be 3-500 kilobits? That's 2-4 seconds of time, while my friend with 1mbit ADSL (now 2mbit, actually) downloads the same in less than half a second. Even the slowest of satellite connections I know of don't add more than half a second of lag, making the total time about a second. Beats me by a factor of 2-4. And that's only when I connect with both ISDN lines at twice the ra
  • by upt1me ( 537466 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:21AM (#5708515) Homepage
    2 definitions found

    From WordNet (r) 1.7 :

    adj 1: of or relating to or being a communications network in which
    the bandwidth can be divided and shared by multiple
    simultaneous signals (as for voice or data or video)
    2: responding to or operating at a wide band of frequencies; "a
    broadband antenna" [syn: wideband]

    From The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (09 FEB 02) :


    A transmission medium capable of supporting a
    wide range of frequencies, typically from audio up to video
    frequencies. It can carry multiple signals by dividing the
    total capacity of the medium into multiple, independent
    bandwidth channels, where each channel operates only on a
    specific range of frequencies.

    See also baseband.


  • by nachoboy ( 107025 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:22AM (#5708520)
    Someone should tell these guys [glenwoodapt.com] about it. What they advertise as "ultra high speed internet access" is actually a great 100 Mbit LAN connection...to the other residents of the apartment complex. Connection to the internet? Capped at 64 kbps. Yes, you read that right... 64 kilobits per second. As in, slightly faster than your 56K modem. On a good day.

    I tried to call them on it, but the apartment won't take responsibility ("we're not the network guys, we just pay for it") and the actual ISP won't either ("we just provide what they pay us for"). It infuriates me because I think the ISP is trying to pull a fast one on the apartment complex and the complex just doesn't know any better. Even the head technician claims that 64k is two to three times faster than 56k cause it's full-duplex (doesn't help my download speed) and ethernet means reduced latency (still doesn't help my big downloads).

    Someone get Cogentco [cogentco.com] to come to Utah. Now *that's* what I consider "ultra high-speed internet!"
  • by Jason1729 ( 561790 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:22AM (#5708524)
    It's not how much you have have, it's how you use it.

    Broadband means it's a communications channel divided into multiple chunks. Each person on a cablemodem connection uses a different freqency range on the same cable, that makes the cable broadband. The opposite of broadband is baseband, that's where the base comes from in 100BaseT.

    If you divide a 2400 baud modem among several users in that way, it can be called broadband too even though each user only have a few hundred bps.

    ProfQuotes [profquotes.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    10. High-Speed Something-band
    9. High-Speed Midband
    8. High-Speed Medium-Middle-Of-The-Road-Band
    7. Better Than A Damn Modem
    6. Fast Enough For Reading Email
    5. Beats Watching Telly
    4. Midmarket Consumer-Grade Porn Access Service
    3. i-Get Me A Pint, It's Still Downloading
    2. Watch Chelsea Lose 24-hours-a-day Service
    1. High Speed !Broadband
  • For the average AOL sub whos most likely not to need all that speed. 128Kb/s is about 3-4x the speed of their current connection (30kbit/ to 42kbit/s) and they'd be happy with the persistant connection (no dialing in). And where I live its $30/mo for 128/128 & 3 email addresses over cable. Works well for the users I manage to ween off AOL.
  • Telecoms' dodge (Score:4, Informative)

    by __aafkqj3628 ( 596165 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:28AM (#5708549)
    I think the Telecom NZ dodged the bullet in this arena by not calling their broadband services - which varies from 128k to full DSL as well as a mobile service for CDMA (which doesn't even qualify as broadband) - as JetStream.
    Even a search on their site for "Broadband" returns only one result (a case study for ATM).
    Very slick.
    • Cunning plan. I was back home in NZ a couple weeks ago and had to go computer and Internet service shopping with my mum. I couldn't believe that you cannot get unmetered broadband in NZ. You can get 128k ADSL with a reasonable amount of International traffic or you can get a 2-8Mbs connection with 500MB a month + extra charges. Lame.
      • I know, it sickens me too that we have govt. supported/created monopoly controling almost everything and thefore get to govern the speeds and the price (and the horrible bandwidth limits).
      • If you find the right ISP you can get unlimited 128k ADSL. You don't have to use Xtra for your Jetstart ISP.

        Also, if you can get a Telstra Clear line you can get unlimited 256K ADSL or Cable with a 5GB limit.
    • Or incredibly stupid, as somebody who didn't already know their broadband product's name might not be able to find it at all.
      • They do make it very clear that it's "High speed internet."

        Plus, the confusion factor of Mobile Jetstream, vs. Jetstream will really nip you in the butt when you think that you're getting 2Mbps on your mobile phone!
  • by yehim1 ( 462046 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:30AM (#5708554) Journal
    In most cases of broadband advertising, the data rate (for example 2Mbps, 4Mbps, 6Mbps) are referring to the throughput.

    Most users are confused with this term. When you have a 2Mbps throughput connection it doesn't mean that one data stream enjoys a 2Mbps connection. In fact, a single data stream's rate will achieve saturation long before it reaches the maximum throughput of 2Mbps, due to many factors, such as bottlenecks en route to server, heavy traffic, and so on.

    It does, however, count when you have many data streams, especially many users. The throughput of the connection will see how many data stream can enjoy maximum data rate at the same time. A 2Mbps broadband is definitely better than a 128kbps leased line, even though in the earlier case data rates can only climb as high as 128kbps.

    One more thing that I realised with our company's broadband is unreliability. We have our company's headquarters in Finland, and our border gateway estabilishes a VPN between itself and HQ's gateway. However, in certain times of the day, the VPN is unstable and it needs time to reestablish the connection.

    That is the selling point of IP-VPNs provided by, for example WorldCom or Hutchison Global Crossing. They promise certain levels of throughput and delay, not to mention reliability, through their SLA (Service Level Agreement).

    Broadband ISP's don't do that. If traffic is really heavy in an area, your connection may get bogged down to 56kbps, even if your line can do a maximum of 2Mbps.
    • When you have a 2Mbps throughput connection it doesn't mean that one data stream enjoys a 2Mbps connection. In fact, a single data stream's rate will achieve saturation long before it reaches the maximum throughput of 2Mbps, due to many factors, such as bottlenecks en route to server, heavy traffic, and so on.

      What makes you think that? A single TCP stream can easily fill a 2Mbps line. The download of the Matrix Reloaded trailer was a good example. Certainly not every server is connected through such a fa

  • by seanadams.com ( 463190 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:31AM (#5708560) Homepage
    This is despite it clearly meeting the technical definitions of broadband internet.

    I couldn't find anything on their site which calims that their 128Kbps service is broadband. 10Mbps ethernet is not broadband. Neither is 100Mbps or 1Gbps ethernet. Somehow the market decided that the word "broadband" means "fast".

    Broadband is not a measure of speed. It means you're transmitting data on several frequencies at once, to maximize the capacity of the physical medium. I sincerely doubt that anything running at 128kbps is using broadband modems. We have ISDN repeaters for that.
    • I sincerely doubt that anything running at 128kbps is using broadband modems.

      Yes, there are, e.g. cablecom in Switzerland has it's lowest priceplan capped at 128/64 over a broadband (read: cable modem) modem.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:33AM (#5708567) Homepage
    Originally, the term "broadband" was used to distinguish local area networks with a DC component ("baseband networks", like Ethernet over coax), from systems that had no DC component, like the forgotten Ungermann-Bass LAN and data over cable TV systems.

    It's not clear how this term became associated with DSL. Early on, DSL was referred to as "data over voice". (This came from the old "data under voice" system, which sent very low data rate signals for alarms and such over lines also carrying voice, using a frequency band somewhere below 100Hz.) Both of those terms are now obsolete.

    DSL has no DC component (you can put it through a capacitor and it works just fine) so technically, it is "broadband". But that has nothing to do with the data rate.

    From a regulatory standpoint, what we need is this: It is deceptive advertising to advertise an "up to" speed without showing, with equal or greater prominence, a guaranteed minimum speed. This rule should apply generally to any advertising that specifies some numeric measure of goodness.

    • Speaking of deceptive advertising...

      Where I am, the phone company used to advertise thier DSL in the vein of "No sharing access!!!", in reference to the fact that cable subscribers all use the same wire to get to the distribution point, which leads to slowdowns as more people are added. Every household, however, has it's own dedicated line to the CO - no sharing, so it's faster, right? All fine and good, yes? Not quite.

      What they didn't tell you is that each of the COs were provisioned with but a single T1
    • I always see the "up-to" speed advertised based not on how good the product is, but how bad the competing product has the potential to be. That has annoyed me, and I really think they should be forced to change that part:
      "Our service can be up to 50 times faster!"
      "Your old service could be 50 times slower!"

      I still have a 1kbps modem which I /could/ be using. By their logic that makes the service I'm getting even better- "Up to 300 times faster!!"

      You can't possibly give a garanteed minimum speed, though.
    • Calling it a DC component is a bit misleading. A flow of direct current isn't really part of it. You might as well say that since the stuff coming out of your wall socket crosses the zero axis 120 times per second (twice per cycle) that it has a DC component. Baseband starts at 0 Hz and goes up however high it goes depending upon the bandwidth of that particular technology, but, then, so can broadband. Both can can be transformer coupled, which removes any DC component.

      Plain Old Telephone Service is almo

  • DSL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:36AM (#5708584) Homepage Journal
    Dont forget about all the people who have the most expensive and lowest speed DSL, iDSL. DSL over ISDN.

    I was stuck on iDSL on covad for 2 years till they fixed our phone lines.

    Good points, faster than modem, almost 3x. And ping was great, 20ms to all hops in Seattle. (Low ping bastard for games)

    So it was doable. And compared to ISDN which you had to bind the channels together, and dial out, was a snap, static IPs and never a disconnect.

    Total cost, about 400 bux for a modem, 100 bux a month service.

    Now YOU bitch about the price of high speed DSL.
    • Even in some places, IDSL service doesn't have anything to do with fixing the phone lines.

      In my case, the part of the city where I live is in a fiber-fed neighborhood. Since DSL signals travel above the analog frequency band, they can't be multiplexed, sent to the CO, and then wired over to the ISPs cage. The only two ways around this are: 1.) Use a telco-standard data carrier from the residence to the CO, or 2.) Install a DSLAM in every fiber SLIC hut where the subscribers are.

      This presents a problem f
  • by cronian ( 322433 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:40AM (#5708591)
    I remember reading a while back about the FCC's definition of Broadband. One idea holds that broadband should be fast enough to support streaming video at VHS quality which is supposedly 500 kb/s. In theory if you can support streaming video, basically anything can be provided over the internet assuming that it is processed on a remote server. However, I would still like my personal fiber optic cable.
  • I have 8mbit download, and 864kbit upload. I cannot see that this is ISDN, thus it's "broadband". Broadband is a low-speed internet service, and should be threated so.

    I think that "broadband" must be defined as "The possibility to watch movies and play games on-line without much problems". As PC's will continue to evolve, and bandwidth for movie-watching is lowered (we have to expect higher and better compression in the future), we might actually end up with that an ISDN-owner might see a full quality stre
  • What a strange case (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tconnors ( 91126 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:58AM (#5708644) Homepage Journal
    Well, where do we start? Sure, it isn't "high speed broadband". So I was agreeing with the judges decision. Afterall, here in .au, we actually care about the "consumer" (hate that word), and if some lousy business lies to you, we sic ACCC (Asutralian competition and consumer commision) onto them.

    But then found out that the lawyers were arguing it wasn't "broadband". ie, some stupid slime has stolen physicist's language, and is trying to force change in terminology through law. They didn't have a beef with the "high speed" part, instead they chose to pick on "broadband".
  • ...Not broad enough dammit. There's no such thing as downloading pr0n too fast!
  • I have the NTL 128k "Broadband" service at home and it suits my needs.

    I wouldn't call it slow. Low latency when gaming and download speeds are reasonable particularly for the £15pcm (cheap) it costs and its always available (ignoring network outages). Bearing in mind that some/most dialup services cost £15pcm plus any additional call charges that may occur plus your phone line is then tied up - the NTL is twice as fast, always on and costs less to run.

    It is slow however "compared" to the 600k
  • by Rolman ( 120909 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @03:17AM (#5708690)
    I am involved in the videogames industry. In this generation of consoles, there has been a lot of controversy on the definition of broadband, since there's not a standard on the requirements for any given game and there's not a clear way for the user and the developer to know if they are met beforehand.

    This causes a big problem for everybody. Developers have an inherent need to limit their bandwidth requirements and perform a lot of tests to reduce network problems, and it can really influence gameplay design; technical support and marketing can be a headache for the publisher and the experience for the user can be very frustrating if there is a simple latency problem, even if the bandwidth is high.

    Every "broadband" user in this case says: "but I have broadband! Why can't I play?". Latency and bandwidth are very complex things to explain, and many factors can affect the videogame experience negatively. (number of hops, type of interface, firewalls, NATs, network traffic, just to name a few)

    I performed extensive tests with the Dreamcast, the PS2, the GameCube and the Xbox, I can say not many games really require more than a 64K connection, but in many cases, while even the bandwidth of a 56K modem could suffice, a specific game may have a problem with the latency associated. That's why some games are labeled as "broadband only". Of course, it doesn't guarantee the connection will meet the game's requirements, but it minimizes the problem somewhat.

    As it is, we used to have a better way of classifying the connection speed on dial-up modems. The diversity on interfaces and protocols (xDSL, Cable, WLAN, etc.) just render the term "broadband" useless.

    I remember Ken Kutaragi (Playstation's main designer) saying something in a conference a couple years ago that went along the lines: "you call 1.5 Megabits/sec 'broadband'? But that's about the speed of a CDROM!" I wish Kutaragi extended the analogy to latency using CDROM seek and access time too.

    We need a better way to refer to a modern Internet connection, period.
  • Broadband should be at least 1MBit/s today, and full duplex. None of that slower up than down.

    It is time for a fiber revolution!
  • by M100 ( 78773 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @03:29AM (#5708725)
    In the UK regulation of comms services is by OFTEL. Their definition of broadband is as follows:
    'Broadband' is used in this brief to refer to higher bandwidth, always-on services, offering data rates of 128 kbps and above.
    This definition of broadband is used by Oftel for the purposes of measuring take-up in order to capture the dynamic range of services available to residential and business consumers that are classed by the industry as broadband. This definition gives Oftel data that is comparable with broadband take-up figures published by other countries in Europe. For the purposes of specific market assessment and definitions of regulatory obligations, different definitions may be appropriate.
    You may be interested in this [oftel.gov.uk] report from OFTEL about the state of takeup of broadband in the UK.
  • Common Sense (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LamerX ( 164968 )
    When are people going to get some god damn common sense? People always want technical, detailed labels on stuff defining things that everyone knows.

    "Cigarettes may cause cancer."
    "California Recognizes that burning gasoline may pollute the environment."
    "Warning, Coffee May Be Hot"
    How about a whole list of stuff? [rinkworks.com]

    So when a company decides to use the techinal term, (a REAL technical term) people get all pissed off because it doesn't quite meet thier own made up definition. When are people going to wake up
  • At least in New Zealand, the 128k ADSL is effectively crippled by traffic caps in the region of 5-10Gb/month. @ 10Gb, thats a monthly average of 32kbit/s. Take the cap off and maybe I'll be more receptive to claims of "high speed" internet.
  • Perhaps it was the adjective that NTL used that made it particularly false: 'high speed' broadband. I don't consider 128k to be 'high speed' for a broadband connection.
  • by ayjay29 ( 144994 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @04:18AM (#5708845)
    In Sweden, my friend lives in appartment block, and they got a 100Mbps broadbend network installed free as the company wanted to test the technology. (They pay about $20 a month to use it).

    Thay had a meeting about it, to discuss what people thought of it, the company explained that other appartments were having 10Mbps lines installed.

    Being Swedish, they decided to have a vote, and democratically decided to change the network to 10Mbps so they would have the same as everyone else.

    Only in Sweden...

  • I used to have a 128k connection from NTL until january. I upgraded to it from a 56k modem, and the difference to me was a revelation. I know it's pretty low speed compared to most other broadband services, but it was much faster than my modem, always on and didn't tie up my phone line. In that sense, maybe it shouldn't be called "high speed" but "much higher speed than your modem" isn't a very snappy name.

    As for the word broadband, I thought it referred to dividing a line up into multiple channels with
  • Whatever the technical definition is of broadband (what several people have pinted out already) is not the issue. It is the marketing definition that is what counts here. In the UK 'Broadband' has been specifically linked with a 'High speed, always on connection'. Not only that but it is what you can do with this connection. The advertising from BT (An ADSL Wholesaler) has cleary stated online gaming, movie trailers, audio and multimedia content. Given this definition 128kbs is not broadband.

    This 128kbs se
  • by Moderation abuser ( 184013 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @04:37AM (#5708888)
    It's whether 128k can be described as high speed broadband. It can't. 512k is normal broadband, 128k is their low cost, low speed broadband option and I welcome the fact that it exists but it certainly is not high speed broadband.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @04:49AM (#5708921)
    Technology does. Broadband is a kind of link that can do multiple things. Like DSL, there is both data and voice riding over the same wire, just in seperate bands. This is as opposed to technology called baseband, where the whole bandwidth of teh link is used for one task. Ethernet would be an example of baseband. It is perfectly possable to have really slow broadband (like say DSL with only 64k upstream) or really fast baseband (like 10Gb ethernet).

    The reason why broadband is an exciting technology to the home user is that you can get data over an existing technology like cable or phone lines. Since it travels in a seperate band, it doesn't interfere with your existing service, and since it is part of the same link, there is no requirement to run an additonal connection to your house.

    However it has no bearing on speed. My external link is broadband, but only 640kbit/sec. My internal links are all baseband, and old technology at that, but still run at 100mbit/sec.
  • 128K ISDN is plenty of bandwidth, provided the latency is good and you're not a download whore (aka, a warez kiddie, someone that downloads every new demo, or someone that downloads music/videos, etc). IMO, the main problem with dialup is the latency, not the pipe size.
  • ASA - doh! (Score:2, Insightful)

    It would be fair to ask NTL to drop the High Speed claim, 128kbps isn't that fast, but it is technically broadband - by the ASAs' own admittion! Thereby having "broadband access from £14.99" instead of "high speed broadband....", but no this is too much like a good idea.

    Mind you doing things that define common sense isn't new to the ASA. A couple of years ago they banded a car newspaper/magazine ad because it had a blurred background and gave the impression of breaking the speed limit (the car was ac
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @05:39AM (#5709027) Homepage
    Dispite the technical meaning of the word, people assume broadband = fast to begin with. "High Speed Broadband Internet" indicates you're selling fast broadband. Advertising it as "High Speed Internet" *or* as "Broadband Internet" would work, because it is considerably faster than a dial-up line. But when you stick then together you expect a broadband connection faster than the average, not the slowest of slow broadband.

  • Not a new issue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BlindSpot ( 512363 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @01:29PM (#5711767)
    I remember when I got my first modem (a 1200bps) that 9600bps and 14400bps were considered "high speed". The USRobotics modems were even branded as "HST" with the HS meaning "high speed".

    Then 19200 and later 28800 came out and suddenly 14400 modems were accessible to the masses and they weren't considered to be high speed anymore. However some 14400 modems still were labelled "high speed", presumably to attract people to make the switch from the lowly speed of 2400.

    Then it happened all over again when 56K came out.

    The one thing that was different is that I can't recall hearing of anybody getting sued over it. Probably because most modem buyers back then were more of the nerdy types and weren't fooled by cheap marketing gimmicks like sticking the words "high speed" on the box!

    As for broadband, it's probably best left as a relative term. In many countries, 128K may be the best that one can get, unless one wishes to spend thousands of dollars.
  • EE Terms (Score:3, Interesting)

    by man_ls ( 248470 ) on Friday April 11, 2003 @02:23PM (#5712132)
    "Broadband" referrs to the modulation of multiple signals on different frequencies over the same physical wire.

    Contrasted with "baseband", which is the simple placement of an electrical signal on a wire.

    Ethernet uses a baseband method of signaling. Hence the technical terminology "100 Base TX" 100 Megabit, baseband signaling. The TX, I forget what that represends.

    Baseband signaling is trivial to interpret...an ethernet adapter only needs to be aware of three states on the wire...0, 1, and null. As opposed to broadband, where the adapter needs to be aware of the different signal levels and frequencies and pick the right channel from the wire to modulate/demodulate over.

    How can a lawyer define a technical term? "Broadband" has been misused because DSL/Cable are implimentations of broadband, but broadband signaling is not implicitly faster (or slower) than baseband signaling. There is no debate over what "broadband" means, it is explicitly defined in the world of electrical engineering, and has been for many years.

    WTF do the lawyers think they can get off doing?

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