When was broadband invented?

When was broadband invented?
(Image credit: Michael Bocchieri / Contributor)

The birth of broadband happened in the UK, quite aptly, at the turn of the new millenium in 2000. This was when the first UK resident got connected to an ADSL line for a blistering fast 512Kb – yeah, just half of a single Mb.

While the internet network and emails were around since the 1970s, Tim Bernes Lee's internet launched in 1991 and used dial-up. This was limited to a 56Kb phone line connection. That meant a 3.5Mb song, in real-world use, would take about half an hour to download.

Then along came broadband to change it all. And we're not even talking about the modern fibre optic cable broadband yet.

ADSL was the first broadband

The launch of ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) meant that there were two rather than one phone line, effectively. So no more hogging the phone line to get online as both the phone and the internet could be connected at once.

This ADSL broadband, launched in 2000, meant a permanently connected internet line. So no more paying phone charges that limited the amount of time you could be online. It also meant faster speeds of up to 512Kb. But that was just the start.

When did fibre optic broadband launch?

The first fibre broadband was offered by Virgin Media back in 2008. At 50Mb this was a big jump forward in terms of available bandwidth and speed for users. This used light rather than electricity meaning that its cables, technically, have no limit. This was clearly the future and the beginning of the end for the limited-by-metal-resistance-cabling of copper-based ADSL internet. 

This is what saw the launch of Spotify in the same year and the consequent change in the way solid state media was consumed.

How did broadband develop?

By 2009 a whopping 50 percent of the UK households were on broadband of some sort. By 2010 Virgin Media had unveiled plans for its 100Mb line. But it was outdone by Hyperoptic which launch the first 1Gb connection to some homes in London.

Pricing was still high for these speeds until the government made a pledge in 2015 for broadband to be considered a basic right, like water or electricity.

Now pricing has dropped drastically as you can see from out best fibre broadband deals.

According to the Department for Culture, Digital, Media and Sport, all copper lines will be replaced by fibre, nationwide by 2033. 

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Luke Edwards

Luke is a freelance writer and editor with over two decades of experience covering tech, science and health. Among many others he writes across Future titles covering health tech, software and apps, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and plenty more. He also likes to climb mountains, swim outside and contort his body into silly positions while breathing as calmly as possible.