Internet Connection Types Explained – CNET

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Shopping Internet plan It’s easy to get confused, especially if you’re not familiar with the various technologies used to provide connectivity to your home.while fiber, Fixed radio, cable, DSL, Hygiene When 5G home internet There are so many things in the plan to keep it straight, and if you don’t understand the difference, you run the risk of getting stuck in a connection that doesn’t. As fast or reliable as you wanted, Or affordable if needed. If there is a possibility of a long-term contract, it’s not good.

This guide describes the different types of internet connections available in your area, how they work, and any restrictions you can expect from them.

Fiber Optic Internet: Fast and reliable, but with limited availability

Fiber optic internet is arguably the best connection type, so let’s start there. As the name implies, fiber refers to the internet connection that arrives at home via fiber optic cable. Fiber optic cables use pulses of light to transmit data along thin strands (or fibers) of glass or plastic. These fiber optic strands support better speed and reliability than other connection types.

Fiber optics can provide download speed 2 gigabits (2,000 megabits per second) –Sufficient to download a two hour movie in HD in less than a minute-but the maximum download speed from most fiber optic providers can be around 1,000 Mbps. Upload speeds, which are especially important when learning from work or home, are also significantly faster with fiber optic services.

Availability is the only real drawback of fiber.Laying enough fiber optic cables to connect the entire city or region Huge logistical challenges, And to survive a lot of competition and bureaucratic formalism, it is slow for any of the major service providers to extend coverage to underserved areas. As a result, fiber internet is available only to about 45% of US households, primarily urban households. According to the Federal Communications Commission..

Fiber connections have been quite expensive when it comes to internet plans, but most providers have reduced their prices in recent years. As a result, fiber internet can be as competitively priced as other connection types. It’s actually one of the most cost-effective internet types, given the speed you get at a price. No wonder everyone wants it.

Notable Fiber Internet Provider

Cable Internet connects to your home via a copper coaxial cable, much like traditional cable TV.

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Cable Internet: Fast, ready-to-use, standard connection

Cable Internet lacks the full-speed potential and reliability of fiber optic services, but is much more widely accessible. Cables are one of the most common types of internet connections and are available to nearly 90% of the US population. Cables are often bundled with home phone services and TV packages. This makes sense because cable internet uses the same coaxial connection as cable TV.

Coaxial cable does not have the same speed potential and reliability as fiber optic cable, but cable internet is still one of the fastest internet types. Most cable providers offer a variety of speed options, including Gigabit plans with download speeds of around 940Mbps. However, upload speeds vary greatly, as few providers offer upload speeds above 50 Mbps. Speed ​​reliability can also be a concern with cable internet, as coaxial cable is susceptible to network congestion and slowdowns, especially during peak use.

Cable Internet prices vary considerably from provider to provider, but cable is almost always one of the more affordable internet connection types. Broadband connectivity is available from providers such as Cox, Mediacom and Xfinity for less than $ 30 per month. Another well-known cable internet spectrum has a high starting price of around $ 50 per month, but with a maximum download speed of 200Mbps.

Notable Cable Internet Provider


This portable Netgear Nighthawk mobile router receives incoming 5G signals and broadcasts them as a Wi-Fi network that nearby devices can use to bring them online. You can cover a wider area by wiring to a dedicated Wi-Fi router.


Mobile Internet: Increased with 5G

The mobile internet is designed primarily for mobile phones, but as technology improves and speeds increase, especially 5G -Mobile connectivity is becoming more practical for home Internet use.With this internet connection type, mobile phone companies such as AT & T T-mobile Also Verizon It sends signals in all directions, most of which are received by mobile phones, but in the case of the home Internet, routers receive those signals and convert them into home connections.

If you live in a city or another area with a strong cellular infrastructure, you may be able to connect via 5G. Providers like Verizon that offer speeds up to 1 Gbps.. There are also cellular internet plans that use LTE, previous generation technology, or a combination of LTE and 5G.

If you are buying mobile internet for home use, you may have only one plan option. This is a flat rate depending on the speed available at your address. T-Mobile offers a single 5G plan ($ 50 / month for download speeds in the 25-110Mbps range), as well as Verizon ($ 70 / month for download speeds in the 300-980Mbps range).

Notable Cellular Internet Provider

DSL Internet: Great for rural areas, but somewhat outdated

DSL refers to Digital Subscriber Line and is often available in areas where cable or fiber Internet access is not available. With a DSL, the connection to the Internet is made over a telephone line. However, unlike dial-up, DSL interrupts your connection to a call so you can use the Internet without worrying about an incoming call interrupting your connection.

DSL internet is ideal for local communities looking for a reliable and affordable internet connection.Although the speed is slower than the cable internet plan (about) 42% of people eligible for DSL service can use broadband speed, Defined with a minimum download of 25 Mbps and a minimum upload of 3 Mbps), could be a cheaper alternative to satellite internet. DSLs use existing telephone lines to serve, so providers can keep prices relatively low.

Notable DSL Internet Providers:


With satellite Internet, connections are made from satellites with radios in Earth’s orbit. You need a dish to receive the signal.

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Satellite Internet: Slow and expensive, but probably the only option

Satellite Internet is the most widely available type of Internet because it does not rely on terrestrial infrastructure such as cables, cellular towers, and in-line antenna connections. Instead, use a special dish to connect to a geostationary satellite that orbits far overhead. If you can clearly see the southern sky, it is quite possible that there are satellite providers that can provide internet connectivity to your home.

To set it up, your provider will come out to install a satellite dish on either the roof of your home or the ground facing south. It is especially suitable for people living in rural areas where other options are not available, as bad weather and other obstacles can affect service in ways that are out of control.

On average, today’s satellite Internet providers typically offer speeds of 12-100 Mbps. In most cases, this is a good option for small households who want to stream video, browse the internet, or update social media.New provider-that is Elon Musk Starlink Network,Started Expansion of services In some areas this year- Promise to speed them up By using low earth orbit satellites near the ground. This means that the signal does not have to travel far. This also reduces delays and delays. Other celebrities are also trying to participate in the Internet Space Race. Amazon Project Kyper..

Intensifying competition in the satellite Internet industry can help lower consumer costs. Today, satellite internet is the most expensive internet connection type to date. Starting prices for satellite Internet range from $ 50 per month due to their low speed (up to 25 Mbps) and low data capacity. If you need faster speeds or more data, satellite internet can quickly reach $ 150- $ 200 per month.

Notable Satellite Internet Provider

Fixed Wireless Internet: Similar to satellite Internet, but better

Another option for local communities is fixed wireless internet. Like satellite Internet, fixed radio requires a fixed receiver or antenna to be installed, but it can be much smaller than a satellite dish. The antenna receives signals transmitted from a nearby wireless hub and provides internet connectivity.

Fixed wireless connectivity is ideal for communities that lack the resources needed for DSLs. To receive the strongest signal, the antenna must be placed where the sky is clearly visible. Because fixed wireless internet connections require a direct line of sight, nearby hills, trees, buildings and other obstacles can distort the connection.

Fixed wireless internet speeds range from 5 to 50 Mbps, but may vary due to the large number of variables that can affect the quality of incoming signals.That said, many providers offer Elegant data cap Compared to satellite internet. The price is also much better than the satellite, with plans for $ 35 to $ 50 per month.

Fixed radio is traditionally Local internet options, Connection types are expanding rapidly in metropolitan areas thanks to providers such as: Google Fiber When Starry sky internet.. Instead of sending services to individual homes, these providers send internet signals throughout the building, such as apartment buildings, to service individual units over Ethernet cables. These providers can offer much faster speeds than traditional fixed wireless services at gigabit speeds available in some regions.

Notable Fixed Wireless Internet Provider

Find the right internet plan for you

So what kind of internet connection is right for you? It depends on several factors.The first thing to think about is your typical usage, and Really needed speed.. If you’re browsing the web and checking only email, you can slow down your connection, but users who stream videos, play games online, or upload files at work or school. In a small household with, you should ideally have access to the following download speeds: At least 25Mbps.

Obviously, cost is also an important factor.Some providers Bundle their various services to offer you discountsHowever, keep in mind that promotional prices may not last as long as your service contract. In that case, for example, in the second year you will pay more for the same service.

After all, the biggest factor is probably beyond your control, it’s your location. In some parts of the United States, there are many options for going online, but in others, there are few options.

Whatever your options are, understanding the different technologies will give you an idea of ​​what you can expect before you sign up.

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