UPDATE *4th July 2011*: On 13th May 2011 the UK government finally set upon a definition that agrees with our own conclusions. BDUK said that 90% of "people in each local authority area" should have access to superfast (25Mbps+) broadband ISP services by 2015. Thank god for that.Article Index:
Here is an incredibly simple question, what is a bicycle? At this point your mind has probably conjured up something resembling a two wheeled vehicle that is powered by foot pedals and you'd be correct. Now try this one, what is broadband? Are we having fun yet, what did your mind come up with this time?
Some of you probably came close but we can almost guarantee that nobody got it perfectly correct because the term "broadband" can, it appears, have different meanings depending on the context. There was a time when broadband came synonymous with "fast internet access", albeit spoken in comparison to 56Kbps dialup connections, yet crucially what was fast then is slow today.
A small selection of broadband definitions from around the internet (global):
The use of ambiguous wording like "fast", "high data rate" and "high bandwidth" receive a great deal of use in most attempts to define the term and yet they remain highly subjective to the time period in which they were first penned, not to mention the impact of individual perspectives; each giving rise to a new context.
Back in 2003 the UK telecommunications regulator, Oftel (now known as Ofcom), ran a review (consultation) on the 'Wholesale Unmetered Narrowband Internet Termination Market' in which it defined broadband as "higher bandwidth always-on services, offering data rates of 128kbps [0.12Mbps] and above".
Flash forward to March 2010, and Ofcom's review of the wholesale broadband market, that defines the service as merely a "connection which is capable of supporting always-on services which provide the end user with high data transfer speeds". Ah, "high data transfer speeds" again, now what does that mean, exactly? We asked but Ofcom couldn't tell us.