The Basics

The term broadband refers to high-speed internet access. Broadband is different from dial-up internet service for several reasons, including the following:

  • Broadband service provides a higher-speed of data transmission.
  • Broadband provides access to the highest quality internet services, such as videoconferencing for telehealth, that require large amounts of data transmission.
  • Broadband access is constant. It does not block phone lines, and there is no need to reconnect each time you need to use the internet.

Why Broadband is Important

Broadband is important for rural health care providers interested in meaningfully using electronic health records, as many of the capabilities of health IT, such as telehealth and electronic exchange of health care information, require broadband capability.

Accessing Broadband

Broadband providers can be local telephone companies or other providers of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and fiber connections, a cable company for cable modem, a wireless or satellite company for wireless broadband, or an electrical utility for Broadband over Power Line (BPL). Who you will need to contact to obtain broadband access will depend on your needs and the technology available in your community. For more information on getting broadband and the availability of broadband in your community, refer to Broadband.Gov and National Broadband Map.


  1. The National Learning Consortium team developed this content using the Federal Communications Commission’s "What is Broadband?"