Is Broadband For You?

Q: What is broadband, and as an independent agent, how can it help my business?

A: Technically, broadband is the transmission of electronic information at very high speed, generally 128Kbs (kilo-bits per second) or higher. Agents who use broadband to connect to the Internet enjoy a much, much faster connection than those who use an old-fashioned telephone modem. In fact, a broadband connection can be several times faster than a standard 56K dial-up modem.

Whats more, agencies that use broadband to connect to the Internet can hook multiple computers to a single connection. One hookup can be shared between, say, 10 terminals simultaneously. With dial-up service, the agency would need an individual line for each connection.

The insurance industry is increasingly embracing broadband service. AMS and Applied, for instance, are selling more software systems that operate more efficiently with a broadband connection. More and more carriers want agents to invest in a broadband connection to help increase the speed and ease with which they use the companys online systems to service customers.

There are several types of business-grade broadband Internet connections available to agents. DSL and cable modems use the agencys existing phone or cable television line (without disrupting phone or television service). An even faster but more expensive option is T1, which requires the installation of a dedicated line into the office. These services are usually offered through telephone or cable television companies, although not every option is available everywhere.

An additional alternative is satellite hookup. With this technology, the signal is transmitted via a satellite in Earths orbit to a satellite dish receiver at the agents office. It is limited only by line-of-site issuesthere cant be any obstructions (trees, high-rise buildings, mountains, etc.) between the agents satellite dish and the satellite overhead. Satellite is newer technologyand is more expensive than cable or DSL, but less than a T1 linebut its viable, and may be the only option for agents in rural areas where other broadband options are not offered.

A Web-site agents can go to for information about availability of broadband service within their zip codes is

Alvito Vaz, director of agent Internet systems for Progressive, supplied the answer to this question.

Do you have a question about technology for the agency? If so, send it to our editors: Ara Trembly ( or Mark Ruquet ( Well do our best to provide a clear and concise answer.

Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, April 14, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved. Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.