Before deciding which type of broadband internet — internet with speeds of 25 Mbps or faster — you should purchase for your home or business, it is important to consider factors such as where you live, if you want to package your internet and other services, the network’s speed, and how much speed you will need.
Find out which broadband internet service is best for you with the following steps:
- Learn about the different types of broadband internet services below (DSL, Cable, Fiber, Satellite, Wireless).
- Use the internet speed tool to find out how much speed you need.
- Check the Internet Service Providers (ISP) options in your area.
- Compare providers by customer satisfaction.
Types of Broadband Internet Service:
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) broadband connections are delivered through copper phone lines. Unlike dial-up internet, however, you can still use your phone while surfing DSL internet. DSL is generally available to anyone who lives near a telephone company, which means it may be a less viable option for those who live in remote areas or who no longer have a landline connection.
One downside to DSL internet is that the further a customer lives from the ISP’s location, the slower their connection may be. Not all DSL connections qualify as broadband either, so check what speeds are available in your area before signing a contract if you want broadband speeds capable of supporting multiple devices on the Internet at one time.
Who Benefits from DSL Internet:
- Customers in rural locations without access to other types of internet.
- Customers who don’t want to spend a lot of money on internet.
- Customers who do not want to share a network with other nearby users.
Who Doesn’t Benefit from DSL Internet:
- Customers who want the fastest speeds and most bandwidth.
- Customers who live far from the central network hub.
Cable broadband internet uses coaxial cables, which are the same type of cables that deliver television data to a TV. This makes it easy for customers who already have cable television to bundle TV services with an internet package. Cable broadband internet is a widely available broadband option in the United States.
However, many cable ISP customers share cable lines with other people in their area, which could result in a slower connection at peak user times. Though cable internet is generally faster than DSL, not all cable connections can reach broadband speeds.
Who Benefits from Cable Internet:
- Customers who want to bundle TV and Internet services.
- Customers who want faster speeds without paying too much.
Who Doesn’t Benefit from Cable Internet:
- Customers in rural locations without access to existing coaxial cable infrastructure.
- Customers who don’t want to spend as much on internet service.
Satellite broadband internet is ideal for people who live in remote areas because it does not require installation of cables or other expensive infrastructure. Instead, a satellite internet connection is made between a satellite orbiting Earth and a dish on a customer’s home — but this can make it more difficult for people who live in apartments or who have to follow strict homeowners association rules. The dish also requires an unobstructed view of the southern sky to work most efficiently.
Satellite internet is often the fastest option for people in rural areas, though inclement weather can cause interference, and not all connections can reach broadband speeds.
Who Benefits from Satellite Internet:
- Customers in remote areas without other existing infrastructure.
- Customers who don’t want to pay too much for internet.
Who Doesn’t Benefit from Satellite Internet:
- Customers living in apartments.
- Customers without an unobstructed view of the southern sky.
- Gamers and heaver internet users worried about latency.
Fiber-optic internet is known for its reliability and speed, and it is growing in availability and popularity. This type of broadband internet uses glass fibers to transmit data and is one of the priciest broadband internet options because it is also one of the fastest — often reaching speeds up to 1 Gbps. If your household or business has multiple people who regularly use the internet at a high capacity, the superior speeds of fiber might fit your needs.
Due to the expensive and time-consuming installation cost, fiber-optic broadband internet is currently only available to around 25% of people in America — so find out if it’s an option for you.
Who Benefits from Fiber Internet:
- Customers who want the fastest speeds available and don’t mind paying for it.
- Customers with multiple users or devices connected to the internet at once.
- Gamers and heaver internet users worried about latency.
Who Doesn’t Benefit from Fiber Internet:
- Customers living in areas without fiber-optic infrastructure.
- Customers who don’t want to spend a lot of money on internet service.
Wireless broadband internet — not to be mistaken for Wi-Fi — uses radio waves to transmit data from the ISP’s mobile or fixed location to a receiving dish at customer’s home or business. This type of broadband internet can be accessed wirelessly from anywhere within network coverage. Wireless internet is ideal for people living in areas where there are no physical obstructions between the ISP and the customer, and it is very easy to set up.
Though wireless internet speeds are currently similar to DSL and cable, this type of broadband internet has the potential to be 50% faster than fiber and is quickly moving toward gig internet speeds.
Who Benefits from Wireless Internet:
- Customers who want fast internet but don’t have access to fiber infrastructure.
Who Doesn’t Benefit from Wireless Internet:
- Customers in areas with large physical obstructions between them and the ISP.
- Customers who do not need the fastest internet speeds.
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