Narrowband VS. Broadband: A Side-by-Side Comparison Learning Academy | by Deanna Parenti July 07,2021


Narrowband and broadband are two common terms you will come across if you’re in the market looking for home internet providers. These two technical terms can make choosing a new internet provider a challenging process.

So, what is the difference between narrowband and broadband? What’s a broadband internet, and what is the difference between broadband and Wi-Fi?

Worry no more! Keep reading this informative post to get all the answers.


As several homes from different parts of the world go for broadband technologies, you need to understand the reason for this and the primary differences between narrowband and broadband.

Downloading large files, gaming, and streaming HD videos eat up a significant percentage of bandwidth. Therefore, you require a virtually seamless experience. But do you go for broadband or narrowband? Which connectivity can offer that experience with minimal lag?

Narrowband connectivity works by using a dial-up modem attached to the traditional copper-wired telephone lines. The internet penetrated rapidly into the market in the 90s because of the underlying telephone line infrastructure. Typically, a narrowband connection transports data at speeds not exceeding 56 kilobytes per second.

With internet advancement, the need for richer forms of information like rich images, audio, and video resulted in the technologies that promoted faster access channels. This growth is the reason behind the broadband connections like DSL or digital subscriber line technology.


In internet connections or data communication, you can define narrowband as the amount of data transferred per second. The dial-up internet connection is an excellent example of a narrowband connection. Under dial-up internet connection, you connect a computer through telephone cables and a modem.

In radio communication, narrowband communication occurs in frequency ranges, where gain remains the same for each frequency in the range. Generally, narrowband is the perfect option for any application which needs reliable, low power, and long-range communications.

Another thing to note is that narrowband connectivity needs less bandwidth than a broadband system. However, narrowband features have higher transmit power than a broadband system.

The narrowband connection still remains to be the perfect option because technology has changed over the years. The analog to digital conversion is the primary reason behind this growth – it enhances voice and information communications on two-way frequencies. This process uses less bandwidth, making it easy for better or similar communications to occur on half of the spectrum.

Manufacturers keep improving their radio efficiency, meaning you can even come across 6.25-kilohertz narrowband radios in the current market. These radios do the same and excellent functions that the original wideband radios performed.


In internet connections or data communication, broadband describes the internet connection’s data rate. Generally, a broadband connection features a higher bandwidth (under Mbps range) than a narrowband connection. Digital Subscriber Line technologies, WiMAX, and HSDPA are excellent examples of broadband connection technologies.

In radio communication, broadband communication features a broader frequency range than a narrowband connection. Usually, a broadband range doesn’t feature a flat frequency response because it goes beyond the coherence bandwidth. Consider broadband as a relative term, and you can get the band’s size in GHz, MHz, or kHz, depending on the app.

Broadband is the perfect option for applications that need higher data rates. Note that it’s only the higher frequency spectrum that can accommodate higher data rates. Also, keep in mind that broadband takes up more bandwidth than a narrowband system. However, it features less transmit power than a narrowband system.


Typically, broadband falls under high-speed internet connections. Besides accessing it any time, broadband also gives you a standard way of connecting to the internet. Also, note that you can get broadband packages in any shape and size.

In the past, you were to hand up your mobile phone to access the internet, which is not the case today. Broadband makes it easy to split the frequencies into various channels, allowing you to use your mobile phone and the internet.

On the other hand, Wi-Fi refers to the latest technology that supplies connectivity by using radio waves. It is a connection that crafts hotspots by relying on a wireless adapter.

But broadband can also work as Wi-Fi. Make this possible by connecting your broadband modem to the Wi-Fi router. After this, you will use a cable to connect your laptop to the router, and then the remaining ones will work without a wire.

So, do you need to go for a broadband connection or Wi-Fi connection? Here the answer depends on what you want. Wi-Fi is the perfect option for you if you’re a frequent traveler and need high-speed internet. However, broadband will work well if you work from a fixed area from time to time.


●     Less portability (but it’s possible to control it using a Wi-Fi router)

●     Less downtime

●     Comparatively low cost

●     Minimal network congestion


●     Good downtime

●     Greater network congestion

●     Amazing portability

Not that Wi-Fi is the perfect option for crafting in-home network connections. Also, Wi-Fi makes it easy to use local wireless technology to take the existing internet signals and route them to one or several devices. However, you have to use existing broadband internet connections to make this possible. Moreover, you need to ensure there is a connection between the Wi-Fi router and the broadband internet.




●     The perfect option for public safety services and criminal surveillance applications because it works well with heavy applications

●     Frequency accuracy in this spectrum is more accurate and works well

●     The band coverage is more because it occupies more bandwidth. You can also increase the range when improving the signal integrity

●     You can use the internet more efficiently, and it works faster when browsing and downloading


●     Communication becomes more secure because of the more isolation between the individual channels.

●     The best spectrum infrastructure and always available when needed

●     It covers a long communication system range

●     More penetration into the environment and collects each signal in the specified frequency.




Focusing on narrowband means your focus is on signals with a bandwidth of 100 kilohertz or small. Here, it is the data rate used to determine this bandwidth.

Typically, narrowband channels feature lower data rate transmissions. On the other hand, broadband channels feature higher data rate transmissions.

Typically, broadband channels have a bandwidth of over 1 MHz. Also, note that more bandwidth means higher data rates, based on signal information, both received and transmitted.


Narrowband channels need less transmit power and take up less frequency spectrum than broadband signals. On the other hand, broadband signals refer to short pulses that play a critical role in sending data while briefly occupying a significant part of the analog communication frequency spectrum.


In narrowband channels, effective filtering limits the noise amounts within the channel. This process ends up suppressing the interference and noise located outside of the active frequency band.

A broadband channel can limit any noise located at the channel’s outside frequencies. However, all the signals transmitted within that frequency band need to lock horns with the spectrum’s noise floor.


You can also identify narrowband channels as flat fading channels since they pass each spectral component with the same phase/gain to one another.  Narrowband channels will not benefit by adding more frequencies because these channels will always fade uniformly.

On the other hand, broadband channels take the name frequency fading channels or selective fading channels since different frequencies will affect various channel sections.


It’s not easy to overlap with interfering signals in narrowband bandwidth, mainly because of frequency fading. Narrowband interferers can suffer loss because of frequency fading. Therefore, this will result in lower chances of impacting another system.

In broadband bandwidth, the interference probability from various transmitters rises as bandwidth increases. Here, broadband signals are likely to experience frequency selective fading but don’t expect the fading parameters to be the same.


In narrowband channels, you have to add the paths vectorially and as per each phase. This path interaction plays a critical role in reducing the normalized power. Therefore, narrowband channels need a lower transmit signal power.

Broadband signals take algebraic path addition, and it’s the signal’s correlation properties that separate the received paths. Therefore, broadband channels need higher signal power.


A narrowband system needs less operation power. As a result, the narrowband system is the perfect option for fixed-location and shorter-range apps that need transmission over short distances. Examples of these applications include the cars’ remote keyless entry gadgets, RFID, and portable mobile devices.

Broadband refers to a low-power technology that can penetrate building walls. Examples of applications that need broadband channels include internet telephony, 5G wireless communications, connected cars, and IoT devices.


Narrowband is the oldest version and the most preferred when it comes to data communications. However, technology advancement has made narrowband accommodate and work well with several applications with high efficiency and less cost.

Broadband is the perfect option for creating spectrograms. However, these two connections come with outstanding benefits. Therefore, take aside much of your time and select the one that suits all your needs.


Author Bio:



Deanna is from Frederick, MD. She attended Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA, to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Professional Writing and minor in Fine Arts. While at Juniata she worked as a Juniata Assistant Professional Writer for the Provost.

This experience then led her to work as a journalist for Arts Help and a volunteer grant writer for Team Hope after graduating. In her free time, Deanna enjoys volunteering, making pottery, and getting outside.

About Author

Deanna Parenti

Deanna is from Frederick, MD. She attended Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA, to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Professional Writing and minor in Fine Arts. While at Juniata she worked as a Juniata Assistant Professional Writer for the Provost.

This experience then led her to work as a journalist for Arts Help and a volunteer grant writer for Team Hope after graduating. In her free time, Deanna enjoys volunteering, making pottery, and getting outside.


narrowband broadband internet providers

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