The term broadband primarily refers to the speed of the users connection to the internet.  The latest definition by the FCC pegs broadband access as a service offering at least 4 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.  What does that mean?

Internet connection speeds are usually measured in kilobits (1,000 bits) per Second, abbreviated kbps, or Megabits (1,000,000 bits) per second abbreviated Mbps.  There are various definitions of what speeds constitute broadband, the Federal Communications Commission, in its July 2010 “Sixth Annual Broadband Report” defined broadband as speeds of 4 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.  Compared to the International Telecommunication Union, which defines broadband as speeds of 1.5 to 2 Mbps, this is aggressive.  Likewise, in 2006, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development defined it as 256 kbps, about 1/15 of the FCC’s definition.

The FCC definition appears to be the most realistic, however.  It compares well with current worldwide average broadband download speeds reported by Cisco Systems in their June 2, 2010 report “Hyperconnectivity and the Approaching Zettabyte Era”.   Cisco also reports average broadband download speeds are expected to increase to 14.4 Mbps by 2014:

This indicates that, not only is the FCC definition appropritate, but going forward it should be adjusted upward.  The rational for this is not just because average broadband speeds have been rapidly increasing and will continue to do so, but because on line content will continue to demand higher capacity.  That, however, is the subject of another post.