Millions of people all over the world connect to the internet each day through ISPs (internet service providers). Most people know what type of connection they have: dial-up, cable, DSL or satellite—some connections are high-speed/broadband (the terms are interchangeable) while others aren't.
While the average internet consumer knows the name of their connection type, few know much more. When you explore the assets and liabilities of each ISP method, you can best choose the internet connection that will fit your household habits.
Dial-up is a connection that sends information through the phone line by way of a modem. Some dial-up ISPs offer accelerators that use content compression and page caching to increase the speed of the data transfer. If you have a phone line, you can generally find a dial-up ISP in your area.
A cable internet provider offers internet service through the same coax cable through which you receive cable television. Currently, cable is the fastest of all connections, but speeds can be affected by the number of local customers connected at the same time. A cable connection requires a modem that can be rented from the ISP or purchased from a local computer dealer.
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), like a dial-up connection, comes through your phone line, but DSL uses electrical signals at frequencies that humans cannot hear. Many phone companies offer DSL connection at discounted prices if you also use their phone services. There are two main differences between DSL and dial-up: first, DSL is much faster (up to 50 times) and second, because you cannot hear the data signal, you can use your phone and the internet at the same time even with only one phone line.
Satellite is a connection that makes high-speed internet accessible to areas where DSL and cable connections are not yet available. Data is downloaded (received) about 10 times faster than dial-up through a satellite dish attached to your home. Some satellite systems have slower uploading times (sending data) because data must travel over phone lines through a modem. Other systems use the satellite both ways—for uploading and downloading.
Wireless is an internet connection offered by businesses with access to a main internet route. Data is downloaded about 50 times faster than dial-up through a direct line-of-sight (LOS) from your home to the provider's antenna. You must have a powered receiving antenna on your property to send and receive data.
Whether you live on the internet and like to surf at break-neck speeds or are looking for an internet provider that offers a cost-effective service there is an ISP that's perfect for you.
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