What You Need to Know About Different Types of Internet Service
First, it’s 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 . These are the high-speed internet services that keep you constantly connected. Here’s a summary of the different types of broadband connections available to consumers.
1) DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line. It operates over regular telephone lines to deliver download speeds as fast as 25 megabits per second . There are two types of DSL: Asymmetric DSL (ADSL) and Symmetric DSL (SDSL). ADSL is the cheaper of the two and offers significantly faster download speeds than upload speeds . SDSL, on the other hand, provides equally fast upload and download speeds, which might be important if you are a VPN user or regularly backup large files to the cloud.
- Advantages: 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.
- Disadvantages: 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.
- The most important feature, naturally, is availability. It’s no use trying to get Verizon FiOS if the company doesn’t service your area.
Other sites can help with your research. If you’d like a quicker comparison of the most popular services, WhiteFence offers an easy-to-scan chart and the ability to compare individual packages. And if you’re looking for satellite providers, ISPProvidersinMyArea is one of the few comparison sites to include satellite as well as DSL, cable, and wireless providers.
The comparison sites are a good starting point to quickly identify which ISPs have the best combination of speeds and price. You’ll also need to visit the individual ISPs’ websites to get the fine details on their packages so you can make a thorough comparison for yourself, based on your needs. In particular, pay attention to:
- Download and Upload Speeds: . To find the ISPs with the fastest upload and download speeds actually tested by users worldwide, visit Speedtest.net Net Index. Click on the map to drill down to your area and scroll down to the ranking of ISPs by speed index .
- Cost and Contract: Some services require you to rent the modem or buy it yourself; others provide it for you. Some offer free installation while others charge you for that service call. Most discount your internet service if you package it with television and/or phone service and you might be able to avoid a multi-year contract with some—for a higher price, of course. These are the details you’ll need to consider when comparing services by price.
- Terms of Service: Similarly, make sure you know what the service’s limitations are. There may be data caps, for example, limiting the amount of data you can use per month, or restrictions on the kinds of activities you’re allowed to do, such as running a web or file server.
- Add-ons and special features: Many ISPs throw in extras just to make it seem like you’re getting a great value. Things like anti-virus program subscriptions, an ISP-branded email address, and personal webpages are just that—extras that you likely don’t need. One pretty cool add-on you might find, though, is free Wi-Fi hotspot access. For example, if you’re a Cablevision customer anywhere near one of its public Wi-Fi towers, you can hop on to it. That might sway you if you frequently use your laptop on the go.
- Reliability: Of course, none of these features matter if you can’t use the service when you need to. DSL Reports shows reviews from your neighbors, which is a great start. As mentioned above, you can also use the Net Index from Speedtest.net to get a ranking of real-world ISP quality tests.
- Customer support: Airlink Communications Internet Service Provider Ratings measures ISP customers’ satisfaction across several factors, including performance and customer service.