Broadband according to the FCC?

The FCC's definition of Broadband

When we attended the FCC’s workshop last week, one of the handouts was the FCC’s consumer publication Broadband Brochure. While informative, the publication does not break any new ground definitely: broadband is defined as “faster than dial-up service and it doesn’t tie up your telephone line like dial-up often does”; nor metaphorically:

To better understand the differences between dial-up and broadband, it might help to envision the Internet as a pipeline for information. If the pipeline is narrow, less information can fit. Bigger pipes allow for increased and more complex information to flow back and forth – bringing content and information to you at faster speeds. Dial-up uses narrow pipes. Broadband uses increasingly fatter pipes that allow much more complex information to flow at faster speeds, including complex graphics and videos.

The glossary of terms in the back is of equivalent depth:

bandwidth - The capacity of your broadband connection to send and receive the data. The higher the bandwidth, the faster the transmission of data. Bandwidth is measured in bits per second.

blog - An online, chronicle journal; short for “weblog.”

download - To transfer a file or files from one computer to another, for example, from a server to your desktop computer. Download is the opposite of upload.

e-mail - Messages sent via the Internet. E-mail can be everything from simple messages or can contain pictures, video - even voice.

encrypted - Encrypted data is data that has been converted so it cannot be easily understood by unauthorized people.

instant message (IM) - A way of communicating with another Internet user by way of simple text-based chat .

IP address - A numeric code number assigned to the computers in a network. A static IP address is permanent. A dynamic address always changes every time you connect to the Internet.

Internet Service Provider (ISP) - A company that provides its customers access to the Internet.

modem - The device that connects your PC to the Internet.

social networking - An online community of people who are socializing with each other via a particular website.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) - A technology that allows you to make and receive calls over the Internet.

webcam - A simple video camera that connects to your computer and enables you to send live and recorded video as well as still pictures via the Internet.

WiFi - Wireless broadband. Available in many public locations.

Overall the booklet touts the benefits of broadband, but near the end waffles a bit: the section entitled “How can I get it” includes both dial-up and broadband; the “it” apparently referring to the Internet in general. Fortunately they do mention libraries, public computing centers and “retailers”, too.

Not to pick on the FCC, but if these issues require broad and substantial dialogue (as we believe they do), then the dialogue should be framed with meaningful and informative descriptions.


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote> <img> <h2> <h3> <h4>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Adds typographic refinements.

More information about formatting options

Transmission Project