Definition: Traditional modems used in dial-up networking convert data between the analog form used on telephone lines and the digital form used on computers. Standard dial-up network modems transmit data at a maximum rate of 56,000 bits per second (56 Kbps). However, inherent limitations of the public telephone network limit modem speeds to 33.6 Kbps or lower in practice.
Broadband modems that are part of cable and DSL Internet service use more advanced signaling techniques to achieve dramatically higher network speeds than traditional modems. Broadband modems are sometimes called “digital modems” and those used for traditional dial-up networking, “analog modems.” Cellular modems that establish Internet connectivity through a digital cell phone also exist.