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Broadband Internet

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Broadband Internet is a general term referring to Internet connections exceeding the abilities of standard analog modems and ISDN connections, i.e. connections with speeds above 128 kilobits per second.

In some countries broadband services operate at over 1 Mbps for connections to private residences, with higher data transfer rates possible for business purposes, but with a correspondingly higher charge.

In the United Kingdom many domestic users have connections either via cable modems, or via ADSL, and these typically run at around 500 kbps. Business users can obtain higher data rates for a higher subscription. In a few of the many areas not served by cable or ADSL, community organisations have begun to install Wi-Fi networks.

In the USA many users have connections at about 380 kbps (in 2002), though this situation may change as new equipment is rolled out.

Apart from providing faster data transfer across the network, broadband networks also provide the possibility of higher performance for streaming data, such as audio and video streams. There are now many streaming audio[?] services, and several streaming video[?] services. Broadband Internet also facilitates the use of file sharing software.

The data rates on most broadband services are still insufficient to provide good quality video, as MPEG-2 quality video really requires about 6Mbps for good results. Adequate video for some purposes is possible at lower data rates, with rates of 768 kbps and 384 kbps being used for some video conferencing applications. The MPEG-4 format delivers high quality video at 2 Mbps, at the high end of cable modem and ADSL performance. The Ogg Tarkin[?] format is intended to deliver similar performance.

As the bandwidth delivered to end users increases, it is likely that video on demand services streamed over the internet will become more popular, though at the present time such services are generally restricted to specialised networks.

The impact of increased bandwidth is already visible on newsgroups where postings to groups such as alt.binaries.* have grown from JPEG images to entire CD and DVD images. According to NTL the level of traffic on their network has increased from a daily inbound news feed of 150 Gigabytes of data per day and 1 Terabyte of data out each day in 2001 to 500 Gigabytes of data inbound and over 4 Terabytes out each day in 2002.

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