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Results from 'Broadband' speed poll
Tuesday 03 June 2003 19:45:00 by Andrew Ferguson

The poll has now closed and we had over 10,000 people cast their vote for what they consider to be the minimum speed for a 'broadband' connection.

What speed would you call the minimum for a "Broadband" connection?


512 kbps

 7,273 (66.6%)

256 kbps

 1,585 (14.5%)

1 Mbps

 1,090 (10.0%)

2 Mbps

 605 (5.5%)

128 kbps

 304 (2.8%)

Not sure

 67 (0.6%)

A total of 10,924 votes have been recorded.

The results are not much of a surprise really, and show that the vast majority of the people casting a vote consider 512kbps and higher to be the minimum, just 2.8% of the voters consider 128kbps as a broadband speed. This fits in with Oftels' decision to actually label connections as broadband if they are above 256kbps in speed. Oddly enough Oftel still choose to include lower speed connections when it produces favourable statistics.

Many commentators, and we must agree to some extent, insist that broadband is not about the speed of the connection. They assert that the real measure of a broadband connection is that is 'always-on'. Others would actually say that a broadband connection is one that can handle multiple data types without the performance of any one application impacting upon another. This results in broadband meaning a line that can sustain video streaming, voice over IP, Internet access and more - which means a line speed in excess of 2Mbps and Quality of Service (QoS) parameters that ensure bandwidth is used effectively. There is also the the school of thought that broadband refers to the size of the frequency spectrum used to carry the data signal, ADSL uses 1Mhz (1000kHz) of the electro-magnetic frequency spectrum, where as PSTN voice calls use perhaps 3 to 5kHz and is a narrow-band product.

The situation is thus that broadband means whatever the sales person you are talking to is trying to sell you. Broadband Internet access covers a multitude of technologies not limited to ADSL, cable modems, various xDSL variants, satellite and wireless in its various formats.

In a couple of years the marketing people will have moved on, and will be persuading us that 'ultra-band' is the way to go. Remember the times when 56K dial-up connections were actually marketed as 'high speed connections'?


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