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Baseband and broadband are networking terms that describe whether a given signal gets the whole wire to itself or whether it has to share the wire with other signals.

  • If a data signal gets the whole wire, it is a baseband system.
  • If the wire is modulated with some kind of carrier and the data signal uses a part of that signal to communicate over the wire, then it is a broadband system.


In a baseband network, no carrier frequency is used. The information that travels down the wire depends on the wire itself for its carriage. Ethernet, for instance, is a baseband network technology, because the whole of the wire is dedicated to carrying the network's traffic. 

The following are used to designate the type of baseband network:

  • In the standard network descriptions, the bandwidth comes first. Common numbers are 10 (for 10 Mbps), 100 (for 100 Mbps), and 1000 (for 1000 Mbps).
  • The last segment of the designator, in this case the "T," usually tells the type of media used. For instance, a 10Base-T system describes a 10 Mbps system that operates over twisted-pair, with "T" standing for twisted-pair. Another common designator is "F," for fiber-optic.
  • The "Base" part of the designator indicates that it is a baseband system, as opposed to broadband.


Broadband transmission systems allow multiple independent signals onto one cable. The most obvious examples of broadband technology are high-speed Internet access that comes into a home by new cable TV systems (cable modems) or Digital Subscriber Loop (DSL). In either of these systems, a layer of electromagnetic waves is inserted on the media, and then one or more channels of that signal is used to carry the messages.

For instance, in a cable TV system the cable head-end sends many signals down the wire at once. Viewers can select channels for viewing and recording, and channels are also set aside for use with cable modems. These signals are mixed onto the cable system wires as if they were standard television channels, and it is to these channels that the cable modems connect. In this way, the cable modem is using a broadband service, because it is connecting to a signal that is riding on the cable, rather than to the cable itself.

Unlike baseband, there is no standard format for indicating specifications for broadband systems.


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