If you are looking to sign up for a new internet connection, the various options may confuse you. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer internet connections through various technologies. However, to choose the most suitable option, you need to learn about the differences between them. These connections vary based on costs, availability, quality, and even speeds. If you don’t do your research, you may get stuck with a slow connection that isn’t as fast as you would have wanted.
In this guide, we have described the common internet connections that could be available in your area, so you can choose the one that seems the best fit for your needs!
The most popular internet connection in the market is the fiber-optic internet. As the name suggests, this internet connection is offered by means of fiber-optic cables that contain thin strands of glass or plastic, and the connection’s speed is sufficient for your needs. These cables are used to transmit data in the form of pulses of light. This connection is the fastest and most reliable service in the market.
Fiber-optic internet can offer fast download speeds (from 1 to 2 Gigabits per second). This speed is enough to help you stream videos, download large files, and perform any other tasks with ease. The connection also offers upload speeds significantly higher than other connection types.
Unfortunately, fiber-optic connections are not available in all areas. The infrastructure for fiber-optic connections is very expensive and logistically challenging. Currently, only 45% of US households, mainly located in urban areas, have access to fiber-internet connections.
Fiber-internet connections used to be expensive, but prices have lowered over the past few years. Mediacom internet offers high-speed connections at a price that comes as a pleasant surprise.
Cable internet connections are widely accessible in various areas of the country. This type of connection doesn’t offer the speed of fiber-optic but is available to over 90% of the US population. The connection is offered in bundled packages and is one of the most common connection types. This is understandable as the connection uses the same coaxial cables as your TV.
Cable internet speeds cannot be compared to fiber-optic connections but still offer quick and reliable connections to households. Cable providers offer various speed options, which you can choose based on what you can afford. However, they offer very low upload speeds. Only a handful of ISPs offer upload speeds over 50Mbps. In addition, coaxial cables can become congested when there is a lot of traffic. This can cause the internet speeds to slow down and be unreliable during peak times.
Cable internet is one of the more affordable options in the market. The prices vary from provider to provider, so you should have a look around before you sign a contract.
As the name suggests, mobile internet is mainly created for your mobiles. However, over the past years, this technology has improved drastically, and mobile connections have become fast, even for home use. As 5G arrives in the market, it offers users even faster and much more reliable connections than before. This internet connection is picked up by a router and receives the signals to turn it into a home connection.
When you are looking around for mobile internet connections, you will see that the companies offer a single plan. You need to look at the features and decide between the various ISPs.
DSL internet, also known as digital subscriber line, can be found in areas where you may not be able to find a cable or fiber-optic connections. With the help of DSL, you can get an internet connection with the help of telephone lines. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about disrupting your ongoing calls or worry about obstructing incoming calls.
DSL connections are commonly found in rural residences for people looking for a consistent and reasonably priced internet connection. The speed of a DSL connection is not as fast as cable and fiber-optic plans, and only 42% of DLS users have access to a broadband connection. Because DSL providers use existing telephone cables, they don’t charge users very high prices.
Satellite internet connections provide coverage to various parts of the USA because the technology doesn’t rely on cables or cellular towers. Instead, a connection is established with the help of special dishes that connect to satellites in orbit. If you can see the sky clearly, the chances are that you can gain access to a satellite connection through any of the ISPs.
The installation process is slightly different, as the provider will have to visit your location to install a dish on your household’s roof. This connection is particularly common in rural areas where ground-based infrastructure is not available. Bad weather can act as an obstruction and cause disruptions in your connections.
Satellite internet connections are capable of offering speeds of up to 100Mbps. The satellite connection’s speed is sufficient for small households where they require the internet to stream videos, conduct online video calls, browse the net, and access social media apps. Some providers are deciding to opt for low-orbit satellites to reduce the distance between the dishes and improve internet speeds. The signal will not have to travel so far and significantly improve the internet connections.
As of today, satellite connections are very expensive in the country. Currently, satellite internet connections for higher speeds can cost almost $200 every month for high-speed connections.
Fixed wireless internet
One other internet connection that works in rural areas is the fixed wireless internet. The connection follows a similar installation procedure as the satellite connections, but the dish is much smaller than a satellite dish. This dish picks up signals from wireless hubs in the area to create an internet connection.
Fixed wireless connections are usually offered in areas with no DSL connections. To create a strong connection, you are required to position the antenna in a place with a clear view of the open sky. Obstacles such as trees, buildings, and nearby hills can cause distortions in your connection.
You can get a speed of up to 50Mbps with this connection, but many factors can affect the quality of this signal. However, providers offer more than enough data caps over satellite connections at cheaper rates.
Recently, fixed wireless has expanded to metro areas and is no longer offering services to rural households only. Instead of transmitting signals to single households, the connection is beamed to entire buildings and then transmitted to each household with the aid of Ethernet cables. These connections can offer fast speeds and is much faster than the traditional option.
Finding the right internet plan for you
Choosing the right internet connection is a big deal for your household. You want your internet connection to offer you high speeds, be reliable, and can be easily accessible by all family members. By reading about the type of connections, you can decide which one fits your needs. Once you know the best connection for you, you need to check if it’s available in your area and browse through each provider’s packages and prices.
No matter what you choose, reading through this guide will help you manage your expectations and make a good decision.
Tech expert fresh from the Australian Coast. Been in the tech industry more than 9 years, as part of a Business Growth Group. His out of office days are 100% for freestyle surfing and waves chasing.