What is broadband internet?

Broadband provides the fastest connections today, making it the most common type of residential internet service. Broadband (short for “broad bandwidth”) is a type of high-speed internet connection that is always “on.” There are several types of connections including DSL, fiber, wireless, and 4G/5G LTE.


Broadband was introduced in the late 1990’s, replacing some older types of internet connections such as dial-up, which used the audible frequency of telephone lines. Because broadband uses a separate frequency than your voice line, it’s always connected, making it easier than ever to stay online.


Broadband internet provides fast connections, allowing users to quickly upload, stream and download large files. Let’s take a closer look at how this technology works. 

How does broadband internet work?

Unlike a dial-up connection, broadband connection uses a dedicated line exclusively for data transmission. DSL internet uses copper phone wires, cable internet uses the same coaxial cable as your television, fiber internet uses specialized fiber-optic cables, and there are wireless options like satellite and 4G/5G LTE.


Each of these types of connections use different frequencies, which provide a range of speeds. A service provider (ISP) uses a network of equipment such as cables, computers, routers, and other devices to connect your home to the internet.

Types of broadband internet

There are four primary types of broadband connections available today. CenturyLink provides DSL, fiber and 4G, varied by location.

DSL internet

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) was one of the earliest forms of broadband to be introduced and is still a common service today. DSL uses a single pair of copper wires in a telephone line for high-speed data connection. The DSL signal uses different frequencies from the voice lines, making it possible to use your internet and phone at the same time. Using a modem to bring the connection from your telephone line to your computer allows for DSL to get more “bandwidth,” which increases speeds. DSL speeds can be as high as 100 Mbps.

Pair bonding

Pair bonding is an option for some DSL connections that generally provides double the bandwidth as compared to single line DSL service. With typical DSL service, there is only one pair of copper wires being used to deliver internet service. With pair bonding, two copper wire pairs (four individual wires) are used, thereby doubling your internet speed.  When using pair bonding, speeds can reach up to 140 Mpbs. Pair bonding services are subject to availability within CenturyLink’s internet coverage.

Fiber internet

Fiber internet uses a special type of fiber-optic cable, which allows data to be sent as pulses of light over thousands of tiny, transparent fiber strands. Because light is the fastest way to transmit data, fiber-optic internet is incredibly fast, and results in a high-quality and reliable connection. It can provide connections of up to 1 Gbps, and this is expected to get even higher over time. Fiber is an expanding technology that will soon become more widely avalible.

Cable internet

Cable internet is about as common as DSL. It uses the same coaxial cables that transmits TV service to carry a high-speed internet connection. Using a modem, you can connect to these cable lines and enjoy a high-speed, uninterrupted data connection. Cable internet speeds can be up to 940 Mbps for downloading and up to 50 Mbps for uploading.

Wireless internet

Wireless internet is available via satellite. It’s most common in rural areas lacking the infrastructure of wired internet (DSL, cable or fiber) and is typically provided by wireless phone companies.


Satellite internet transmits data directly from a satellite orbiting the Earth. It’s not as fast or consistent as other types of broadband internet, but it can be used anywhere in the world. Satellite speeds for downloading are usually between 25 Mbps to 100 Mbps,  with an average of 25 Mbps for uploading. 

What's the difference between broadband and WiFi?

Broadband is a type of high-speed internet connection, while WiFi refers to an in-home wireless connection. Once you have broadband service, it's converted to a wireless signal in your home from a modem to a wireless router, allowing you to connect multiple devices wirelessly to the internet.

How do I get a broadband internet connection?

Contact CenturyLink today about our high-speed internet service and expanding fiber  internet network and see what speeds are available in your area.  


See what internet speeds are available in your neighborhood

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