Broadband Internet access, often shortened to just broadband, is high data rate Internet access—typically contrasted with dial-up access over a 56k modem.
Dial-up modems are limited to a bitrate of less than 56 kbit/s (kilobits per second) and require the full use of a telephone line—whereas broadband technologies supply more than double this rate and generally without disrupting telephone use.
Although various minimum bandwidths have been used in definitions of broadband, ranging up from 64 kbit/s up to 2.0 Mbit/s, the 2006 OECD report is typical by defining broadband as having download data transfer rates equal to or faster than 256 kbit/s, while the United States FCC, as of 2008, defines broadband as anything above 768 kbit/s. The trend is to raise the threshold of the broadband definition as the marketplace rolls out faster services.
Data rates are defined in terms of maximum download because several common consumer broadband technologies such as ADSL are "asymmetric"—supporting much slower maximum upload data rate than download.
"Broadband penetration" is now treated as a key economic indicator.