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Broadband refers to Internet access at speeds faster than a dial-up connection, which is typically 56kbps or less.
As technologies for delivering faster service evolved, so did definitions for broadband. There wasn’t one single definition, though. The Federal Communications Commission, the Vermont Legislature, the Public Service Board, and the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) - which funds the Vermont Broadband Mapping Initiative and this website - each has had its own broadband standard.
Vermont’s Broadband Mapping Initiative collects and maps data that conform to speed tiers defined by our funding source, the NTIA. At the time this project began, in 2009, its definition of broadband Internet speed was 768 kpbs download/200 kbps upload.
Today most customers have access to much higher speeds, but there are so many variables, the mapping project does not show what speeds can be found. It simply shows where Internet access meets at least the minimum broadband speed.
Different types of Internet access services have been mapped: Landline Broadband, Fixed Wireless Broadband, Cellular, Satellite, etc. They are based primarily on data submitted by service providers. You can use the Interactive Maps a couple of ways:
If the search result includes a Future service provider, it is for your specific address, not just the census block as a whole. (see FAQ 6)
Every address in America is now identified as part of a “census block,” which were created during the 1990 national census process. There are 16,000 of these in Vermont and are shown on our maps as red outlines. Read the next FAQ (#6) to learn how they are used on our maps and what the percentages mean.
Current service providers are shown only with the percentage of buildings in that census block where they offer broadband Internet access. Current service is not shown for each address.
Information for current providers is shown by the percentage of buildings within a census block (see FAQ #5) that they serve. The providers listed do offer service somewhere within that census block. However, they may not be able to offer service at your specific address.
This is a complicated process, so even though we do our very best, sometimes there are errors. One example of the complexity has to do with how Internet service providers submit information about where they offer service. Different technologies generate different data. Some providers do submit a list of addresses, but others list telephone exchanges, highlight street segments on a map, or provide wireless propagation studies. These data sets are sorted, analyzed and standardized in order to create new maps from data collected.
Despite our best efforts, we know some discrepancies occur between actual service and what we’ve been able to include in results. If you think there’s an error, please let us know.
“Up to a maximum …” is the common metric used to compare speed capacity of different broadband offerings. The advertised speeds noted on the website are literally what the service providers advertise.
While broadband service offers are based on the maximum speed capacity, there are many factors that impact actual service at any location and timeframe.
This is because maximum advertised speed cannot take into account congestion at certain times of the day for instance.
You can test your connection to see your current connection speed. Check out FAQ #9 to understand a speed test’s limitations. There are lots of factors that impact speed and it is an indicator at a moment in time, not an absolute.
Speed tests are a general measurement of the Internet speed your computer is able to access at the moment in time that you run the test. It is not exact or constant because many factors affect speed results, such as:
If you test multiple times with the same computer, no programs running at the time of the test, and consistent conditions in terms of other users in your location, you'll get an idea of the range of speeds you are able to access from the Internet service provider for your address.
It’s all about data transfer speed through a network. Here are some basic definitions:
Like Kbps, these are also measures of data transfer speed.
G stands for Giga (as in Gigabit)
Some very high-speed commercial circuits can reach into the terabit per second (Tbps) range which is 1,000,000,000,000 (trillion) bits per second.
No. The capitalized ‘B’ refers to bytes while the lower case ‘b’ refers to bits. There are 8 bits in each byte. Therefore a 1kbps bandwidth would pass 1,000 bits if data while a 1kBps bandwidth would pass 8,000 bits of data.
4G refers to the 4th Generation of development of wireless broadband. It is intended to be faster for data and more robust so it can reach more areas at greater distances. There are two main types. LTE (for Long Term Evolution) is one 4G technology. Major cellular service carriers are upgrading their mobile wireless networks across the United States to LTE. WiMAX (for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Acess) is another 4G technology.
LTE and WiMAX can be used in a fixed wireless network to provide broadband through an antenna and modem rather than a phone. They are also being deployed by fixed wireless Internet service providers across America.
Latency refers to electronic signals. It’s the delay between the moment a signal is sent and when it arrives at its destination.
Different technologies have different levels of latency; greater distances create greater latencies. Digital messages travel at the speed of light, yet over long distances, delays between origination and reception are measurable. Because of the distances involved in satellite Internet service, latency can be noticeable for some applications.
Satellites are also used in broadcast television to link reporters doing live reports off-site back to a station. Latency is often very obvious when a news anchor is talking to a reporter on the other side of the world. There’s enough delay between the time the local viewer hears the question from the anchorperson and when the reporter hears it and replies.
Each address reported is added to a database and becomes part of the analysis process. Reported addresses are compared to what’s been reported by Internet providers as “currently served” or “to be served by funded projects.”
When an address is verified as unserved and is without a project funded that will bring broadband Internet service to it in the future, it is incorporated into the Vermont Telecommunications Authority’s (VTA) database. The VTA’s mission is to fund projects that will build infrastructure to serve homes and businesses in Vermont not already part of a funded project.
The 2010 Draft Telecommunications Plan issued by the Department of Public Service in July 2010 describes the issues that affect broadband deployments in rural Vermont: “There are overarching challenges to the business case for sustainable broadband infrastructure in Vermont. On the demand side, sparse population, and slow adoption rates in newly served areas provide lower incentive for private investment. On the supply side, Vermont’s topography and the high costs of backhaul and tower construction are impediments to service deployment. Vermont is addressing these challenges by streamlining environmental permitting requirements and implementing strategies that support a welcoming financial environment for telecom providers.”