Broadband comes from the words "broad bandwidth" and is used to describe a high-capacity, two-way link between an end user and access network suppliers capable of supporting full-motion, interactive video applications. It is a way of transmitting large amounts of data, voice, and video that is greater than telephony networks. In ISDN, broadband channels support rates above the primary rate (1.544 Mbps or 2.048 Mbps). A single medium (wire) can carry several channels at once. Cable TV, for example, uses broadband transmission. Generally speaking broadband is more often used to describe an internet connection.
Interestingly enough the broadband penetration of a country (both wireless and wired) can directly be linked to its productivity.
"A recent report in Australia estimated that increased broadband penetration will lift the country’s GDP by between 0.5 and 2.5%."
Cara Christian 2006
Broadband's implications for South Africa
South Africa has a very limited broadband connectivity rate and this can possibly explain our countries limited online retailing and ecommerce rates. Accessibility is the main issue for South Africans as many cannot afford the costs involved with high-transfer-speed internet connections. There has been a lot of concern in the past about South Africas Telecommunications Monopoly, Telkom. Some large developments have occurred recently that cast a glimmer of hope on connectivity throughout South Africa:
"ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa) is a government appointed (but "independent") organization responsible for regulating communications in South Africa. Their function is to protect the consumer. ICASA regulate the industry by issuing licenses to providers.
Following hundreds of complaints about the high cost of ADSL in South Africa and the bandwidth cap imposed by Telkom, the authority launched an investigation. The result was a finding by ICASA that Telkom`s charges (and the bandwidth cap) must be revised and hinted that ICASA will force Telkom to make dramatic changes to it's pricing structure."
So with the help of independent regulatory bodies there is hope that the stimulation of accelerated technological growth will benefit more and more South Africans.