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Broadband Options: Choosing the Best Internet Service Provider?

Before you even install it – it is worthwhile to know the differences between the types of internet service available.  Broadband is an umb...

Before you even install it – it is worthwhile to know the differences between the types of internet service available. 

Broadband is an umbrella term that covers all of the always-on types of internet connections: cable, satellite, DSL, and fiber optic service.

DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line. It operates over regular telephone lines (like dial-up does) to deliver download speeds as fast as 25 megabits per second.

These are the high-speed internet services that keep you constantly connected. The other option is dial-up. Below we outline the advantages of each service for your benefit.


DSL is typically less expensive than other broadband options, and you'll likely have more than one DSL provider to choose from—as opposed to one single cable or fiber optic provider. The speeds you get from DSL are also usually very stable and consistent, because in many cases, you get a dedicated line.


The quality and speed of DSL service depends on distance: The farther away you are from the provider's central office (CO), the slower and less reliable your connection. Also, DSL speeds, while much faster than dial-up and probably enough for most users' needs, aren't as fast as other broadband types yet.
Ho to Choose the Best Internet Provider for You
Cable broadband is offered by your cable television provider. It operates over coaxial cable TV wires and provides download speeds ranging from 3 Mbps to over 100 Mbps.


The quality and speed of your service doesn't depend on your distance, like it does with DSL. Cable is also typically much faster than DSL and satellite, and more widely available than fiber optic broadband.


In most cases, your available bandwidth is shared with others in your neighborhood, so the more people using the cable broadband service at once, the slower the internet service will be for everyone. This can really put a damper on your Netflix streaming at peak internet use times.

Satellite, as you might expect, uses satellites to beam the internet feed to subscribers' installed satellite dishes. Satellite, no matter where you are, offers speeds of up to 15 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up, according to Ars Technica.


Satellite covers areas where DSL, cable, and fiber are unavailable. For many people in rural areas (19 million people in the US, according to Ars Technica), it's the only broadband option.


It's both slower and more expensive (for the rated speeds) than other broadband options. Fiber optic service (FiOS), the latest in internet connectivity types, operates over an optical network using light.


It offers the highest ("at the speed of light") speeds available, compared to traditional copper wire connections such as DSL or cable.


Fiber is only available in limited areas. Of course, beyond just internet connection types, a lot depends on where you are (in some areas DSL might be faster than cable or cable a better value if you factor in bundling incentives)—as well as the individual ISP. — Online Sources

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