The standard supported 10 Mbit/s Ethernet signals over standard 75 ohm cable television (CATV) cable over a 3600 meter range. The original Ethernet standard 10BASE5 used a baseband encoding (also known as line coding), where the signal is simply encoded directly on the wire without any sort of carrier wave. Instead, 10BROAD36 modulated its data onto a higher carrier frequency signal, much as an audio signal would modulate a carrier wave to be transmitted in a radio station. This was called broadband at the time; the term has a different (less meaningful) marketing meaning today. This provides several advantages over the more traditional baseband signal. Range was greatly extended, (3600 meters, versus 500 meters for 10BASE5) and multiple signals can be carried on the same cable. 10BROAD36 could even share a cable with standard television channels. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers standards committee IEEE 802 published the standard that was ratified in 1985 as an additional section 11 to the base Ethernet standard. It was also issued as ISO/IEC 8802-3 in 1989.
10BROAD36 was less successful than its contemporaries because of the high equipment complexity (and cost) associated with it. The individual stations were much more expensive due to the extra radio frequency circuitry involved; however the primary extra complexity came from the fact that 10BROAD36 was unidirectional. Signals could only travel one direction along the line, so head-end stations must be present on the line to repeat the signals (ensuring that no packets travel through the line indefinitely) on either another, backwards direction frequency on the same line, or another line entirely. This also increased latency and prevented bidirectional signal flow.
The extra complexity outweighed the advantage of reusability of CATV technology for the intended campus networks and metropolitan area networks. An installer at Boston University using the Ungermann-Bass product noted that no installers understood both the digital and analog aspects of the system. In wide area networks it was quickly replaced by fiber-optic communication alternatives, such as 100BASE-FX (which provided ten times the data rate). Interest in cable modems was revived for residential Internet access, through later technologies such as the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) in the 1990s.
- "802.3b-1985 - Supplement to 802.3: Broadband Medium Attachment Unit and Broadband Medium Specifications, Type 10BROAD36 (Section 11)". IEEE Standards Association. 1985. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- "Information processing systems — Local and metropolitan area networks — Part 3: Carrier sense multiple access with collision detection (CSMA/CD) access method and physical layer specifications". Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- Paula Musich (July 20, 1987). "Broadband user share pains, gains". Network World. pp. 1, 8. Retrieved July 14, 2011. "Broadband networks employ frequency-division multiplexing to divide coaxial cable into separate channels, each of which serves as an individual local network."
- "TechFest Ethernet Technical Summary". Techfest web site. 1999. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2011.