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GCN : April 2013
The FCC wants broadband access for just about every American. But broad- band can come in many forms, and speeds. Here's a look at how the various broadband technologies measure up. The National Broadband Plan has set ambitious goals for high-speed Internet connectivity across the country, and agen- cies, cities and other municipalities have joined the broadband bandwagon. The range of available broadband tech- nologies is still wide. Below is a rundown of the most common types of broadband, their range of transmission speeds and, to put it into context for the everyday user, an estimate of how long, on average, each technology would take to download a 1M book, 4M song and 6.14G movie, drawn from the trove of information available from NTIA's National Broadband Map. Is that really broadband? A look at the technologies in play BY KEVIN McCANEY The speed test T1 IDSN DSL CABLE FIBER ELECTRIC POWER LINE WIRELESS TERRESTRIAL MOBILE WIRELESS Speed: LTE: 100 megabits/ sec; WiMax: 40 megabits/sec Speed: Up to 40 megabits/sec Speed: 500 kilobits/sec to 3 megabits/sec Speed: 5 megabits/sec to 150 megabits/sec Speed: 512 kilobits/sec to 20 megabits/sec Speed: 500 kilobits/sec to 40 megabits/sec Speed: 64 kilobits/sec to 128 kilobits/sec Speed: 1.544 megabits/sec T-1, which was once considered the starting point for broadband, as well as ISDN, use copper phone lines to transmit data. DSL also uses copper phone lines to transmit data. Asymmetric DSL has faster download speeds than upload speeds, since it is designed primarily for consumers of informa- tion. Symmetric DLS' upload and download speeds are the same, and it is more common in the enterprise. Cable modem service uses the coaxial cables and other cable TV infrastructure to deliver Internet access. Fiber optic, the fastest broadband technology, converts electrical sig- nals into light and then sends the light through glass ber. Broadband-over-power lines (BPL) sends data over the power lines connected to a consumer's resi- dence. Unlicensed wireless provides broadband service to a speci c location using spectrum shared by ISPs. Licensed wireless, as the name suggests, uses spectrum licensed to a provider. Using spectrum licensed to provider, it includes 4G LTE and mobile WiMax. TIME TO DOWNLOAD FAST FACTS THE TECH A BOOK (1 MEGABYTE) 5.3s 40s 2.7 to 5.3s 0.3 to 10.4s 0.1 to 1.3s 21.3 to 10.4s 0.2s 0.1s A SONG (4 MEGABYTES) 21.3s 2m, 40s 10.7 to 21.3s 1.3 to 41.7s 0.3 to 5.3s 5.3 to 41.7s 0.6s 0.3s A MOVIE (6.14 GIGABYTES) 9h, 6m 68h, 16m 4h, 33m to 9h, 6m 33m to 9h, 6m 8m to 2h, 16m 2h, 16m to 17h, 47m 16m 8m [BrieFing] 12 GCN APRIL 2013 • GCN.COM