Frequently Asked Questions

What is Broadband?

- Broadband is high-speed internet access that is always operating and available for connection.

What is Digital Opportunity?

- Digital opportunity is the idea that all individuals and communities have the resources to access the Internet, including existing broadband infrastructure in their communities, affordable Internet service, access to technology, and digital literacy tools.

Who do I contact if I have questions about Broadband Access and Digital Opportunity?

- The Broadband Office within the Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) can be contacted by emailing

How strong of a internet connection do I need?

- The FCC recommends speeds of 100/20 mbps (megabytes per second).

Types of Broadband Infrastructures

- Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)

DSL is a wireline transmission technology that transmits data faster than traditional copper telephone lines installed in homes and businesses. DSL-based broadband provides transmission speeds ranging from several hundred Kbps to millions of bits per second (Mbps). The availability and speed of your DSL service may depend on the distance from your home or business to the closest telephone company facility.

The following are types of DSL transmission technologies:

  •  Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) – Used primarily by residential customers, such as Internet surfers, who receive much data but only send a little. ADSL typically provides faster speed in the downstream direction than in the upstream order. ADSL

allows faster downstream data transmission over the same line that includes voice service without disrupting regular telephone calls on that line.

  • Symmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (SDSL) – Used typically by businesses for services such as video conferencing, which need significant upstream and downstream bandwidth.

Faster forms of DSL typically available to businesses include:

  •  High data rate Digital Subscriber Line (HDSL); and
  •  Very High data rate Digital Subscriber Line (VDSL).

- Cable Modem

Cable modem service enables cable operators to provide broadband using the same coaxial cables that deliver pictures and sound to your TV set. Most cable modems are external devices with two connections: one to the cable wall outlet and the other to a computer. They provide transmission speeds of 1.5 Mbps or more. Subscribers can access their cable modem service by turning on their computers without dialing up an ISP. You can still watch cable TV while using it. Transmission speeds vary depending on the type of cable modem, cable network, and traffic load. Speeds are comparable to DSL.

- Fiber

Fiber optic technology converts electrical signals carrying data to light and sends the light through transparent glass fibers about the diameter of a human hair. Fiber transmits data speeds far exceeding current DSL or cable modem speeds, typically tens or hundreds of Mbps. The same fiber providing your broadband can also simultaneously deliver voice (VoIP) and video services, including video-on-demand. The speed you experience will vary depending on various factors, such as how close to your computer the service provider brings the fiber and how the service provider configures the service, including the amount of bandwidth used.

- Wireless

Wireless broadband connects a home or business to the Internet using a radio link between the customer’s location and the service provider’s facility. Wireless broadband can be mobile or fixed. Wireless technologies using longer-range directional equipment provide broadband service in remote or sparsely populated areas where DSL or cable modem service would be costly. Speeds are generally comparable to DSL and cable modem. An external antenna is usually required. Wireless broadband Internet access services offered over fixed networks allow consumers to access the Internet from a fixed point while stationary, often requiring a direct line-of-sight between the wireless transmitter and receiver. These offered services using both licensed spectrum and unlicensed devices. For example, thousands of small Wireless Internet Services Providers (WISPs) provide wireless broadband at speeds of around one Mbps using unlicensed devices, often in rural areas not served by cable or wireline broadband networks.

- Satellite

Satellite broadband is another useful wireless broadband serving remote or sparsely populated areas. Just as satellites orbiting the Earth provide vital links for telephone and television services, they can also provide links for broadband. Downstream and upstream speeds for satellite broadband depend on several factors, including the provider and service package purchased, the consumer’s line of sight to the orbiting satellite, and the weather. Typically, a consumer can expect to receive (download) at a speed of about 500 Kbps and send (upload) at about 80 Kbps. These speeds may be slower than DSL and cable modem, but they are about ten times faster than the download speed with dial-up Internet access. Service disruption can happen in extreme weather conditions.

- Broadband over Powerline (BPL)

BPL is the delivery of broadband over the existing low- and medium-voltage electric power distribution network. BPL speeds are comparable to DSL and cable modem speeds. BPL provides homes using existing electrical connections and outlets. BPL is an emerging technology that is available in minimal areas. It has significant potential because of installed power lines virtually everywhere, alleviating the need to build new broadband facilities for every customer.