What is wireless broadband internet?

Wireless isn’t just for mobile phones anymore—see why it might work for you

by Aaron Miller

You’ve probably used it countless times. It’s commonplace in our increasingly interconnected workplaces and homes. And whether you’ve ever considered how it works or not, you almost certainly rely on it to carry out either professional or personal activities. We’re talking about broadband internet, one of the most popular forms of internet connections. But broadband is changing. It now includes many of the best aspects of cellular technology. In this article, we’ll review a few key factors that make broadband unique and how wireless broadband can give your business fast connectivity with highly predictable bills and flexible service.

Broadband: Breaking free from “dial-up” limitations

Broadband is fast. But in today’s ever-changing technological landscape, “fast” is a relative term. Broadband is capable of much faster upload and download speeds than the dominant technology that preceded it: dial-up internet services that transmitted data across phone lines.

The Federal Communications Commission notes that “broadband allows users to access information via the internet using one of several high-speed transmission technologies. Transmission is digital, meaning that text, images, and sound are all transmitted as ‘bits’ of data,” allowing information to move “much more quickly than traditional telephone or wireless connections, including traditional dial-up internet access connections.” ¹

So broadband is a category of internet connection, not a specific type of technology. Different technologies can deliver broadband internet performance, including:

  • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
  • Cable modem
  • Fiber
  • Satellite

Each of these technologies provide internet performance characteristics that qualify as broadband, and each is a “wireline” solution. Wireline simply means that internet access is delivered via a hard-wired connection to infrastructure.

To this list we can now add wireless broadband. Unlike wireline connectivity delivered through the pairing of the above technologies with a wireless router—think of your typical Wi-Fi® service—wireless broadband is a cellular service. As cellular technology has evolved, it has reached a stage of development where it can provide essential internet access for critical business applications when sufficient in-building cellular coverage exists. These fast, highly reliable connections give businesses a flexible alternative to traditional broadband technologies.

The dawn of cellular broadband

Cellular service used to operate as a backup option when primary broadband connections failed. But as they’ve grown more capable, cellular technologies are stepping up as principal connectivity options for small- and medium-sized businesses. 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE), 5G low band spectrum (5G), and 5G mmWave (5G+ as AT&T calls it) are cellular services that can provide a cost-effective, readily-deployable connection. While they can’t directly compete with fiber connectivity’s speed, they deliver the possibility for a cost-effective alternative capable of satisfying the needs of many business applications.

The benefits of wireless broadband include its ability to connect specific applications in order to alleviate the burden on traditional broadband networks. For instance, a business can assign its point of sale or timekeeping applications to wireless broadband and free up wireline connections for public Wi-Fi. And while it’s functioning on a daily basis to enable these critical applications, wireless broadband is available to cover in case of primary wireline failure. With speeds up to 100 megabits per second in certain LTE coverage areas and with the right routers, wireless broadband is often a viable substitute for wireline connections in backup scenarios.

To summarize, wireless broadband can provide:

  • Additional bandwidth to run your most important business applications
  • Backup connectivity distributed through your router when wireline options aren’t available
  • A diverse, flexible, and manageable business network connection using cellular

 

AT&T Business offers several maximum throughput tiers of wireless broadband services. Learn more about our wireless broadband solutions.

¹ “Getting Broadband Q&A,” Federal Communications Commission, 2021

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