Broadband Definition and Meaning

The term “broadband” describes Internet access with a high data transmission rate. There is no clear definition of the data transmission rate from which one speaks of broadband. Various figures are circulating side by side: While circles close to the government usually speak of 1 megabit per second as the minimum requirement for broadband internet, users and the digital economy consider this to be by no means sufficient. There are other benchmarks for broadband internet in other countries anyway.

  • The DSL connection is the most popular connection technology.
  • Infrastructure development as well as financial support for broadband internet is promoted nationwide.
  • Well-known broadband technologies are LTE, cable internet, fiber optics and VDSL.
  • The broadband measurement can be carried out independently with a free test.

Definition: what is broadband?

A broadband connection is a connection with a high data transmission rate. What is certain is that the term “broadband” always refers to a bundle of different types of Internet access: Internet via DSL , Internet via a cable connection , Internet via fiber optic network as well as UMTS, HSDPA or LTE . There are also other niche technologies such as Internet via satellite or WiMAX.

Broadband availability in Germany

Of all these connection technologies, DSL is the most popular and widespread. Although 99 percent of all German households now have the option of using access with at least 1 Mbit, broadband internet is still not widely available. Particularly with a view to rural areas, people like to speak of a “digital two-class society”: Even if it is hard to imagine for city dwellers, some residents of small, remote towns can only dream of fast internet. Anyone interested in a particular region can use the Federal Ministry of Economics’ broadband atlas to get an overview of the supply situation.

In order to close the “white spots” that still exist, the latest generation of mobile communications, LTE, as well as the expansion of cables, VDSL and fiber optics are giving hope. The federal government, states, municipalities and business want to pull together and make broadband internet available nationwide through the use of synergies in infrastructure development and financial support.

Broadband technologies at a glance

Long Term Evolution (LTE)

The fourth generation of the mobile communications standard called Long Term Evolution (LTE) is not only suitable as a UMTS successor for smartphones and mobile phones, but can also offer the best internet quality at home – especially in places where no internet was previously available.

The allocation of the corresponding frequencies in 2010 was tied to the condition that the previously underserved areas, the so-called white spots, be opened up with broadband internet. Only in the next step were providers such as Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica O2, E-Plus and Vodafone allowed to start rolling out in the lucrative metropolitan areas.

LTE is now widely available, but not yet nationwide. But thanks to high surfing speeds, it is a good alternative to the classic DSL connection. Regardless of whether you are on the go or at home, you will receive an LTE SIM card from your provider, which, depending on the device, can be inserted into the smartphone, surf stick or router. In the beginning, LTE was comparatively expensive, but that is slowly changing.

Cable internet

Cable Internet is inexpensive, stable and available in many regions. The Internet from the cable socket can be received wherever a modernized cable network with a return channel is available. Since the cable network is a dedicated line, access is always active. The cable modem connects the computer to the Internet as soon as it boots up. The speed actually achieved with cable – unlike DSL – does not depend on the distance between the household and the nearest headend.

Cable internet providers include Kabel Deutschland, Unitymedia and Tele Columbus. These have divided the supply areas regionally so that there is hardly any competition between the providers. Nevertheless, many customers appreciate the good price-performance ratio of cable Internet.

Glass fiber

How much performance a fiber optic connection actually delivers depends on where the cabling extends. There are various options here: to the next cable distributor, to the building or directly to the building. Depending on which technology is used, a speed of up to 300 Mbit / s can be achieved. This broadband technology is not cheap either, but the laying of fiber optic cables ensures that you will have modern network access for decades to come.


VDSL is a broadband technology that delivers significantly higher data transmission rates than conventional DSL connections. No special requirements are required for VDSL, reception is implemented via the telephone line. With VDSL, the selection of providers and tariffs is quite large, which is also reflected in the price. Since the competition is very brisk here, the providers attract new customers with attractive promotions.

Deutsche Telekom has been offering VDSL2 based on vectoring since 2016. A special coding reduces interference within a copper line and ensures a speed of up to 100 Mbit / s. Telekom uses the advantage of providing its own connections and operating them with this special technology. Competitive providers are protesting against this approach because, on the one hand, there is a lack of transparency and, on the other, a kind of monopoly is emerging.

Broadband measurement: this is how it works

The speed of Internet access can be determined using a free desktop app. This app can be downloaded from broadband A free broadband measurement is also possible for mobile devices (Android and iOS). The independent measurement can be carried out independently of the provider and technology.



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