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What does Broadband mean to you?


Most of us have heard of Broadband and usually shrug off the terminology or think that a better understanding will be obtained as and when we are more likely to be affected by it.

Basically, it has been stated that we are about to enter into a broadband revolution and this facility will bring about a huge increase in the range of services that will be offered via the internet and digital television.

The name is given to systems designed for high-speed transmission of huge amounts of electronic data. There will also be 24-hour internet connection, video on demand, fast interactive digital television, home-shopping, video-conferencing facilities and downloading of software, music and games.

High-capacity optical fibre networks are to be used similar to that of cable television, or in areas where cable is not available with existing phone networks, a technique called multi-plexing that allows more information to be carried along the old copper wires will be used.

Numerous signals will be combined into one complex signal for the transmission along the wires and then separated out when they arrive at their destination.

The reason for broadband appearing as an important technological advancement is that potentially, unmetered broadband internet access will change the way that both the Internet and television will be used. There will be no need in future to log in and out of the internet, downloading data will be much faster. Phone calls could be made using the same connection without having to log out of the internet and video-conferencing would be much cheaper and easier to do.

Telewest Communications state that using broadband will be like driving down a 10-lane motorway. In the US there already is widespread availability of broadband and this usually results in people logging into the internet and then leaving their computers on all the time.

Both BT and Telewest Communications are claiming that customers will be prepared to pay between £40-£50 per month for constant and speedy access to the internet. BT have stated that its broadband services will only be initially available to a group of 50 customers bundled into one circuit running from the local exchange, which could mean download times could be slow if everyone within that neighbourhood decided to download data at the same time.

One of the main reasons for looking forward to the arrival of broadband has been the prospect of getting television quality video via the internet.

However, with continued availability of unlimited, almost free dial-up internet access, there is still the question as to whether people will be willing to pay around £50 per month for faster access.

Telewest do not appear that over-optimistic, and BT hope that they will have around one million users by the end of 2001, but they feel that investors may appear somewhat reluctant to use expensive broadband facilities until the number of viewers make it a more commercially viable prospect before they sign up for a premium broadband service.


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