Several people have asked me since I started in business on the Web what types of Internet connections are available and whether this connection is better than that one. For a good amount of time, broadband was the fastest-growing type of telecomm service in the world and especially in the United States. As more and more companies started offering faster and faster options for Internet logins and connections, the average person wanting a faster-than-dialup connection was faced with several choices, most of which were confusing.
Currently, the market has hit a plateau, though I don’t think this will last too long. Most companies are selling their contracts and pulling out, consolidating their offerings, or going under as their budgets (still geared towards a growth trend) bottom out. Chances are, however, if you’ re with a larger service provider, you won’t lose your connection. There are currently three major connection types available to just about everyone in America who isn’t in a completely rural setting.
The most common connection type right now is cable, followed closely by DSL and finally by satellite. We’ll look at each option in that order. Cable Modem Broadband A connection through an ordinary coax cable through your digital cable provider is the easiest and most common way to connect to the Internet at high speeds. Most connections average about 400K/second download and 128K upload.
Cable’s largest advantage is its availability and ability to produce multiple upstreams (when sending). The biggest downside to a cable connection is the slow-downs you’ll experience during gluts of service when several people are sharing the network. Expect to pay around $40 per month for this service. Digital Subscriber Link (DSL) This is a connection using your phone line and a special modem. You have to be within so many feet of a phone station “hub” and your line has to be of a newer type to qualify.
Good portions of the population (especially in urban areas) match these criteria and can get a DSL connection. The modem uses a sound frequency well above the human ear’s limits and will not interfere with normal telephone operation. Most connections average about 400-650K per second in download (some are faster) while anywhere from 128-256K in upload speed is available as well. The biggest downside to this type of connection is the availability. The biggest boon to this technology is its reliability and that network slow-downs are less common than with a cable connection.
Satellite (HST) This is the most expensive alternative for getting a high-speed connection to the Internet. If you live in a rural area or a spot where other options are not available (as I do), then this is probably your only hope for a high-speed connection. These come in two varieties, 1-way and 2-way. One-way satellites are like television receivers: they only accept signals. You’ll still have to use your modem to connect for uploads. A 2-way connection, however, both sends and receives and is telephone-free. Average speeds for this type of connection are 600K and higher for download and 128K for the upload. Averages tend to be higher because there are far fewer users on the network to slow things down.
The biggest up side to this technology is that it is available
just about everywhere. The biggest downside to this type of connection is two-fold: price and reliability. Expect to spend $600 or
more for the equipment and another $50 or more a month for the connection. You’ll also experience down time (which will not be
reimbursed by the ISP) during severe weather (called “rainouts”). Most satellite providers provide a dialup backup service as a part of
If you have need of it, a high-speed connection is both convenient and timesaving. If you spend a lot of time online, you should
probably look into getting a faster connection to boost your productivity while online. Otherwise, it may pay to wait a year or so and
see if prices come down as availability once again increases.
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