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When shopping for internet providers and plans, there’s more to consider than just speed and cost. Of course, these two are the most important considerations, but you will also want to compare the different types of internet connections each provider uses.
Fixed connection types, in which a wire is connected directly to your home, include DSL, cable, and fiber-optic internet. While fixed wireless, satellite internet, 4G, and 5G are your options for wireless internet connection. Spending a little time to learn about these connection types can be well worth the effort.
To help you in this regard, we have put together this easy guide that covers everything you need to know about internet connection types. So, without any further ado, let’s get started.
Before you select an internet provider for your home, learn about the different internet connection types to better decide which one serves your browsing needs the best. Based on your internet consumption, you’ll find that some types of internet connection are a better match for your needs!
Fiber optics is the latest technology that transmits information over long distances as light pulses through cables made up of optical fibers. It is undoubtedly the fastest and most reliable internet connection type available today. The primary reason for its popularity is the usage of fiber-optic cables to run fiber to homes—a rapidly evolving method of delivering much higher speeds and bandwidth—which subsequently makes streaming, video calling, and online gaming a seamless experience.
Fiber internet can offer incredibly fast internet speeds of up to 5 Gbps, which helps send data at the speed of light. With these lightning-fast speeds, you can download a 2-hour HD movie in less than 60 seconds, stream movies & TV shows in 4K with no buffering, and upload up to 1000 high-resolution images in less than a minute.
Moreover, fiber internet offers symmetrical download and upload speeds. For instance, if you've got a fiber internet plan offering 1000 Mbps download speed, you will enjoy the same upload speed too—a feature no other connection type offers.
The only downside, if any, is its limited availability. According to Federal Communications Commission (FCC), fiber internet connection is only available to approximately 37% of US households. The good news is that many providers are collaborating with the government to resolve this issue by making efforts to expand fiber coverage to more areas.
Cable internet is one of the most widely available technologies in the U.S.—serving nearly 89% of US residents and 97% of urban areas. It uses coaxial cables to transmit data, which makes it a great choice if fiber is not available at your address. However, it delivers faster speeds and better connection than high-speed DSL.
Moreover, as cable internet uses the same coaxial cables as cable TV and phone, it often comes bundled with home phone services and TV packages. You can enjoy all three services from the same provider under one roof. This type of connection is best for moderate users who like web browsing, gaming, video chats, and streaming movies.
Many cable internet service providers offer up to 1 Gbps download speeds, which is great. The caveat, however, is low upload speeds. For instance, with a 1 gig download speed, you may get upload speeds ranging from 25 to 50 Mbps only. Another downside of cable internet is that speeds may slow down during peak traffic hours as it is a shared connection.
DSL—short for Digital Subscriber Line—is one of the most widely available internet types available in the U.S. It delivers the connection to your house through the existing standard copper phone lines network. It is similar to dial-up services but is much faster and won’t tie up your phone line.
DSL is best for those residing in rural areas as it makes for an affordable yet reliable wired option with relatively fewer drawbacks than satellite internet. Your DSL connection won’t get affected by aspects such as shared bandwidth and network congestion. However, be prepared for underwhelming speeds.
If you are looking for fast internet speed, DSL is not a good option. While some DSL providers may offer speeds that compete with the low end of cable connections, less than half of households are able to access speeds that would even meet the FCC’s definition of broadband internet—25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload. However, its hybrid high-speed version may deliver speeds up to 100 Mbps where available.
As the name suggests, fixed wireless internet is the type of internet connection that uses stationary wireless access points to deliver connection to your home. It does not need any wires running from your location to the provider’s node, rather it sends signals through the air via a mounted receiver installed on your roof with a clear line of sight to the closest tower.
With fixed wireless internet, you can get internet speeds ranging from 5 to 50 Mbps. It is a good option for people with limited choices, especially when there is no wireline service available. Plus, compared to satellite internet, fixed wireless is certainly more reliable and performs better. Just make sure, you can get a direct line of sight. Because any obstacles in between the fixed wireless internet and the tower, such as hills, trees, buildings, etc., will block or distort your signals.
The downside of a fixed wireless connection is that it is hard to ensure that the line of sight remains clear because your provider cannot always manage what happens in the space between transmitters. In addition to that, it is also prone to severe weather conditions.
The Satellite internet is probably the only connection type widely available throughout all 50 states. That makes it a perfect choice for rural communities unreachable by wired networks. It sends data by utilizing a satellite dish installed at your premises, which is responsible for the transmission of signals to and from the orbiting satellite in space.
One of the major benefits of Satellite internet is that it can offer you access to the internet in areas where other types of internet connections are not available. This is because this technology is not dependent on any ground-laid infrastructure, such as phone, fiber, or cable lines—all of which are not as well-developed in rural areas.
That said, satellite internet is not as efficient as other connection types, such as cable or fiber internet due to its high latency. It generally delivers speeds ranging from 12 to 100Mbps—good for basic uploading, downloading, and on-demand streaming. However, it is not considered a good option for gaming. Also, it's more expensive than most other connection types.
5G network—or the fifth generation of wireless data networks—uses different radio frequencies than previous generations to deliver better data speeds with much less delay or lag than 4G. 5G operates on a wider range of radio spectrum allotments. It is worth mentioning that 5G service delivered through the high-band mmWave is faster than 5G delivered over the Sub-6 low-band. However, the former has a shorter range.
Cell carriers can send 5G signals in all directions that can be picked by smartphones and routers. For an in-home network, you will need a router to turn those signals into a home connection. Rest assured, you will be able to enjoy a seamless connectivity experience in your house without having internet lines flowing into your house. With 5G, you can easily conduct your daily internet-related activities, including streaming HD movies, downloading heavy games, and video calling with ultra-low latency.
Just like any other connection type, 5G comes has its own downsides. It has limited availability and line-of-sight propagation is prone to disruption.
Now that you know about different types of internet connections, it would be easier for you to decide which one best suits your needs. Figuring out why you need the internet can help you select the right internet type for you. You can start by analyzing the activities you mostly perform online, your household size, and the internet types available in your area. Once you have this information handy, taking the right decision would be easier.
That said, if you still have any questions or concerns, give a call at 1-855-349-9328 and have experts check out internet types available in your area and give you the best possible advice based on your needs and budget. So, Good luck!
There are a variety of internet connections available across the U.S., including cable, fiber-optic, DSL, fixed wireless, satellite, and 5G. However, each ZIP code has only a select options available.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), cable is one of the most common types of internet connections available nationwide. While DSL comes in the second spot when it comes to popularity in the US.
Well, faster speeds are always better, but it mostly depends on your needs and usage. For example, if you’re the only internet user in your house with your prime activities limited to browsing the web and checking emails, there is no need to subscribe to the fastest speed tier available, as even a basic internet plan offering up to 100 Mbps will meet your needs.
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