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4 Types of Internet Connections: What you Need to Know

The age of dial-up Internet has passed and users are no longer stuck watching the grass grow while waiting to get online. Gone are the days of listening to the god-awful squealing of your modem as it attempted to connect. And, although times have changed, not all connection types are built the same. Here are four types of Internet connections and what they have to offer:

1. Cable Internet Connections

Cable Modem
Image via Flickr by Sh4rpi

Cable Internet is probably the most common type of connection available today. It uses existing infrastructure of local television cable lines that provide Internet access via a modem. And, in spite of what many people erroneously believe, cable modems provide a true digital Internet connection, not an analog to digital conversion like the snail-paced dial-up does.

As for the all-important download and upload speeds, cable Internet connections range in bandwidth from 20 to 30 Mbps on the download end and 1.5 to 5 Mbps on the upload end. Of course, these speeds largely depend on the number of users online in any given area, but they’re generally reliable in terms of quickness.

2. Fiber Optic Connections

Internet connections that are fiber optic differ from any other type of connection due to the fact they send data, like files and videos, in the form of light signals. A fiber optic cable comprises thousands of reflective optical strands that carry data signals long distances literally at the speed of light.

Although fiber optic Internet isn’t largely in use today, the potential upload and download speeds are faster than any other type of connection available. With the potential for 1 Gbps download and upload speeds, fiber optic Internet is likely to transfer data before the user even thinks of what data to send. In other words, it’s brain-signal fast.

3. DSL Internet Connections

Although DSL (digital subscriber line or loop) is an Internet connection provided through phone lines, it’s “always on” and therefore never needs to dial-up. It’s a high-bandwidth connection that makes Internet bundles possible where a subscriber can receive TV, Internet, and phone service all through one provider.

Additionally, because DSL carries both voice and data connections through the same line, subscribers are able to use their existing phone lines, making installation and setup a breeze. DSL’s download speeds range from 1 to 3 Mbps and roughly 128 Kbps on the upload end. This doesn’t sound like much when compared to fiber optic, but DSL is one of the most affordable types of Internet and users find it more than sufficient.

4. Mobile Braodband/Wireless Internet

Wireless Internet connections are accessed from anywhere a WiFi signal is available. These signals, which come in the form of radio frequencies, use a wireless broadcast tower to provide coverage.

Wireless Internet is typically used with smart phones and other WiFi capable devices and can achieve signal strengths of up to 4G, which is the new mobile-broadband standard with download and upload speeds of around 100Mbps. When paired with a wireless router or hotspot (both usually attached to the Web via one of the three aforementioned methods), WiFi signals can be broadcast in homes, automobiles, outdoor areas, and airplanes.

Internet connections have come along way since getting online meant waiting the better part of an afternoon while dialing up. And, from wireless to fiber optic, the Internet is going everywhere and fast. How do you see future connection types evolving?

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