Differences between Baseband and Broadband Explained

This tutorial explains the differences between the baseband and broadband transmissions in detail. Learn what the baseband and broadband transmissions are and how they differ from each other.

Both baseband and broadband describe how data is transmitted between two nodes. Baseband technology transmits a single data signal/stream/channel at a time while broadband technology transmits multiple data signals/streams/channels simultaneously at the same time.

The following image shows an example of both technologies.

differences between baseband and broadband

To understand the basic differences between both technologies, consider the baseband as a railway track and the broadband as a highway. Like, at a time, only one train can go on a railway track, in the baseband transmission only one data signal can be transmitted at a time.

Unlike a railway track on a highway, multiple vehicles can go simultaneously. For example, on a 3 lanes highway, 3 vehicles can go at the same time. Same as a highway, in the broadband transmission, multiple data signals can be transmitted at the same time.

examples of baseband and broadband

Technical differences between the baseband and broadband transmissions

Baseband technology uses digital signals in data transmission. It sends binary values directly as pulses of different voltage levels. Digital signals can be regenerated using repeaters in order to travel longer distances before weakening and becoming unusable because of attenuation.

Baseband supports bidirectional communication. It means, this technology can send and receive data simultaneously. To support bidirectional communication, this technology uses two separate electric circuits together; one for sending and another for receiving.

The following image shows an example of this.

baseband communication

Although baseband transmits only a single data stream at a time, it is possible to transmit signals of multiple nodes simultaneously. This is done by combining all the signals into a single data stream. To combine the signals of multiple nodes, a technology known as multiplexing is used. Baseband supports the Time Division Multiplexing (TDM).

To learn the types of multiplexing and how the multiplexing is done, you can check this tutorial.

Multiplexing and Demultiplexing Explained with Types

Baseband technology is mainly used in Ethernet networks to exchange data between nodes. This technology can be used on all three popular cable media types of Ethernet; coaxial, twisted-pair, fiber-optic.

Broadband transmission

Broadband technology uses analog signals in data transmission. This technology uses a special analog wave known as the carrier wave. A carrier wave does not contain any data but contains all properties of the analog signal. This technology mixes data/digital signal/binary values into the carrier wave and sends the carrier wave across the channel/medium.

To transmit data of multiple nodes simultaneously, this technology supports the Frequency Division Multiplexing. FDM (Frequency Division Multiplexing) divides the channel (medium or path) into several sub-channels and assigns a sub-channel to each node. Each sub-channel can carry a separate carrier wave.

The following image shows an example of this process.

analog multiplexing

Analog signals can be regenerated using amplifiers in order to travel longer distances.

Broadband supports only unidirectional communication. It means, nodes connected at both ends of a medium can send or receive data but can’t perform both actions simultaneously. Only one action is allowed at a time.

For example, two nodes A and B are connected through a cable that uses broadband technology to transmit signals. When node A transmits signals, node B receives the transmitted signals and when node B transmits signals, node A receives the transmitted signals.

The following image shows this example.

broadband transmission

Broadband is typically used in an environment that transmits audio, video, and data simultaneously. For example, Cable TV Networks, Radio stations, and Telephone companies. Usually radio waves, coaxial, fiber-optic cables are used for broadband transmission.

Key differences between baseband and broadband transmissions
Baseband transmission Broadband transmission
Transmit digital signals Transmit analog signals
To boost signal strength, use repeaters To boost signal strength, use amplifiers
Can transmit only a single data stream at a time Can transmit multiple signal waves at a time
Support bidirectional communication simultaneously Support unidirectional communication only
Support TDM based multiplexing Support FDM based multiplexing
Use coaxial, twisted-pair, and fiber-optic cables Use radio waves, coaxial cables, and fiber optic cables
Mainly used in Ethernet LAN networks Mainly used in cable and telephone networks

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