The next development of home browsing was the introduction of broadband and wireless Internet.
Broadband started to replace dial-up in the early 2000s, with half of all Internet users possessing a broadband connection by 2007. Broadband allows a significantly higher volume of data to be transferred at faster speeds by using an ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) connection.
Broadband also differs from dial-up as it’s always connected to the Internet, and doesn’t need to be ‘switched on’ to work.
Wireless Internet started rolling out commercially to the public in 1999, with the release of the Apple Airport, closely followed by the release of a Windows-focused Wi-Fi router in 2001. These devices quickly became the norm, replacing Ethernet cables that had to be physically plugged into a computer to work.
Wireless Internet hotspots were soon introduced at many businesses, such as coffee shops, retail stores, and offices. Wireless Internet hotspots offer the public access to the Internet, often for free, and operate using a wireless local area network (WLAN) connected to a router.
Cable broadband was introduced after ADSL broadband, offering potentially faster Internet speeds by operating over cable television wires, rather than a phone line. Cable Internet speeds can fluctuate, and are limited by the bandwidth allowed by the cable wire. While ADSL connections are widely accessible, cable broadband isn’t as common, and is available to around half of the UK.
The invention of 2G, 3G, and 4G
When smartphones were initially released, early adopters had to make do with a sluggish 9.6Kbps connection, even slower than traditional home dial up. Speeds were improved with onset of 2G, which could reach speeds of up to 56Kbps, but mobile Internet didn’t truly reach its potential until the development of 3G.
This third generation of mobile Internet could reach speeds of up to 200Kbps, transforming the way people used smartphones forever. 4G was released in 2010, improving mobile Internet speeds even further to a reputable 15Mbps.