What is a Broadband Internet Connection?

BestSatelliteOptions is reader supported. When you make purchases through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn how.

When you’re searching for the best internet provider, you’ll often see the terms “bandwidth,” “high-speed internet,” and “broadband” used interchangeably. Bandwidth and high-speed are measurements of, respectively, how much data your connection can move at one time and how quickly it can do so.

So, how is broadband different from bandwidth and internet speed

What is Broadband? 

In short, broadband is a benchmark of bandwidth and speed an internet connection must provide to reliably support the most common online activities. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines the minimum broadband speeds as 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up. You can read more about download and upload speeds, but, download is how fast data is transferred to your device, and upload is how fast data is transferred from your device to the internet. 

The term “broadband” transpired as faster connection types were becoming more commonplace and eclipsing the speed of dial-up internet service. In that regard, broadband is not only a benchmark, but also a grouping of the types of internet connections that can provide the minimum speeds. 

Broadband connections–even at the minimum speeds–are robust enough to support online activities, such as streaming, online gaming, and telecommuting, which demand higher speeds and greater bandwidth. The types of internet service are:

  • Fiber Internet
  • Cable Internet
  • DSL Internet
  • Satellite Internet
  • Fixed Wireless Internet
  • 5G Internet

While all of these are broadband services, speeds differ between types and the provider’s plans. Here are minimum download speeds the FCC recommends:  

  • General web browsing and email: 1 Mbps
  • Checking social media: 1 Mbps
  • Console gaming connected to the internet: 3 Mbps
  • Streaming standard definition video: 3 – 4 Mbps
  • Online multiplayer gaming: 4 Mbps
  • Streaming high definition video: 5 – 8 Mbps
  • Streaming Ultra HD 4K video: 25 Mbps

These are the minimum recommended speeds, but the fastest broadband connection you can find will provide more reliability and stability for these activities. Test your internet speed to see how your current internet service compares to these speed minimums.

Broadband in the Future 

Broadband is not a fixed benchmark. It is based on the available technology and consumer needs at this particular time. It has changed in the past and will change in the future. As consumer demand rises, technology advances, and providers offer new and improved services, the broadband minimum speeds will also need to increase.

If you’re on the hunt for broadband internet services or are looking to upgrade, there are plenty of options available to you. HughesNet satellite internet services and Viasat internet services provide broadband (high speed, ample bandwidth) internet across the nation. Enter your zip code below to see what services are available in your area.

Enter your zip code to see providers near you

magnifying glass