Broadband Resources and Reports
Definitions for Common Broadband-Related Terms
- Broadband - Broadband is the transmission of wide bandwidth data over a highspeed internet connection.
- Cable Modem - A modem used to convert analog data signals to digital form and vise versa for transmission or receipt over cable television lines, especially for connecting to the internet.
- DSL - A digital subscriber line (DSL) provides access to the internet through telephone lines and a modem, which is a piece of hardware that acts as the middleman between an internet connection and a computer, wireless router, smart TV or other device.
- Fiber - Fiber-optic internet, commonly called fiber internet or simply fiber, is a broadband connection that can reach speeds of up to 940 Megabits per second.
- ISP - A common acronym for "Internet Service Provider." ISPs are the companies that provide homes and businesses with access to the internet.
- Megabit - A unit of data size or (when expressed per second) network speed, equal to one million or (strictly) 1,048,576 bits.
- Power Lines - Broadband over power lines (BPL) is an internet service type where customers get high-speed internet connections through their standard electrical outlets. Users simply plug a power line modem into any socket and there is no need for additional special wiring.
- Satellite - Satellite broadband is network connectivity provided through low-earth-orbit (LEO) or geostationary satellites, with the latter providing much faster data rates.
- Underserved - American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) defines underserved regions as those which lack broadband service capable of delivering speeds of 100/20 Megabits per second (Mbps).
- Unserved - Unserved regions are defined as those whose broadband service delivers internet speeds less than 25/3 Mbps.
- Wireless - Wireless broadband is telecommunications technology that provides high-speed wireless internet access or computer networking access over a wide area.
Curious to learn more about what broadband internet is, why it matters, and what the path toward a connected community looks like? Below is a variety of resources you can peruse to explore answers to those questions and more!
- Article: How Much Broadband Speed Do We Need? | The Pew Research Center offers a quick summary of what broadband is, why it matters, and how the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for broadband expansion.
- Video: Cable vs DSL vs Fiber | A simple explanation of three types of internet technologies that are commonly available.
- 2021 Update to the Michigan Broadband Roadmap | A report issued by the Michigan Office of High-Speed Internet that details the State's objectives and strategies for broadband expansion.
What do we know about broadband access in Van Buren County? A final report regarding broadband availability is expected to be available in July 2022; this report will be very specific and contain information about broadband access for every single parcel in the County and will be released publicly as soon as possible. For a preview of the type of report Van Buren County expects to receive, you can review Leelanau County's Rural Broadband Inventory Survey (PDF) or Washtenaw County's Broadband Pre-Engineering Study (PDF).
Test Your Internet Speed
There are a number of factors that can impact the speed of your internet, including the device you are using to connect to the internet, network traffic (i.e., whether other people - like your neighbors or housemates - are also using the internet), and the type of internet connection you have (e.g., fiber, wireless, coax, etc.). You can check your internet speed using a free speed test from Ookla. This online glossary from Ookla can help you understand the results of your speed test.
Trouble Affording Internet Access?
The Federal Communications Commission has a program that can help. Many local internet providers participate in this program. To learn more, follow the links below: