Cable, fiber, 5G and more: The different internet connection types and how they work

Internet using fiber optics: Fast and dependable, but limited availability

We’ll start with fiber-optic internet, undoubtedly the most significant connection type. Fiber, as the name implies, refers to an internet connection delivered to your house via fiber-optic cable, which transmits data by sending pulses of light over tiny strands of glass or plastic. These fiber-optic strands provide faster speeds and more dependability than other connection kinds.

The Fiber Optics prefferablly used by different IT companies and also recomend by Managed IT Services Professionals

Although fiber-optic can give Download Rates of up to 2 gigabits per second (2,000 megabits per second) – fast enough to download a two-hour HD movie in less than a minute – most fiber-optic providers will likely offer maximum download speeds of about 1,000Mbps. Upload speeds are also substantially quicker with fiber-optic connection, which is very crucial while working and studying from home.

The only true downside of fiber is its scarcity. Laying enough fiber-optic cables to connect entire cities and regions is a significant logistical task, and with so much competition and red tape to go through, any of the main service providers have been hesitant to expand coverage to underserved areas. As a result, according to the Federal Communications Commission, fiber internet is only available to around 45% of US consumers, largely those in metropolitan regions.

Notable fiber internet providers

  • AT&T
  • CenturyLink
  • Frontier FiberOptic
  • Google Fiber
  • Verizon Fios
  • Ziply Fiber

Cable internet: Your go-to connection for speed and convenience.

Although cable internet lacks the full speed potential and dependability of fiber-optic connection, it is far more commonly available. Cable is one of the most widespread forms of internet connections, serving approximately 90% of the US population, and is sometimes packaged with home phone service and TV packages. This makes it reasonable given that cable internet uses the same coaxial connectors as cable TV.

Although coaxial connections lack the speed potential and dependability of fiber-optic lines, cable internet remains one of the fastest internet kinds. Most cable companies provide a choice of download speeds, including a gigabit service with download rates of 940Mbps. Upload speeds, on the other hand, are an entirely different story, with few companies offering upload rates exceeding 50Mbps. Cable internet speed reliability can also be an issue, since coaxial cables are prone to network congestion and reduced speeds, particularly during high usage times.

Notable cable internet providers

  • Comcast Xfinity
  • Charter Spectrum
  • Cox Communications
  • Mediacom
  • Optimum
  • WOW internet

Mobile internet: On the rise with 5G

Mobile internet is primarily intended for use on your phone, but as technology advances and speeds grow – particularly with the advent of 5G – mobile connections are becoming more feasible for home internet use. A mobile phone carrier, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon, sends signals in all directions, most of which are picked up by smartphones, but in the case of home internet, a router receives those signals and converts them into a home connection.

If you live in a city or another region with a robust cellular infrastructure, you may be able to connect through 5G, with companies such as Verizon providing speeds of up to 1Gbps. You may also select cellular internet plans that employ LTE, the previous generation of technology, or a combination of LTE and 5G.

Notable cellular internet providers

  • AT&T
  • T-Mobile
  • Verizon

DSL internet: excellent for rural regions but somewhat outdated

Digital subscriber line, or DSL, internet access is commonly available in locations where cable or fiber internet service is not. DSL makes it possible for you to access the internet via your phone lines. In contrast to dial-up, DSL allows you to surf the internet without being concerned about being disconnected by an incoming call.

DSL internet is ideal for folks in remote areas who need a dependable and economical internet connection. While it lags below cable internet options in terms of speed (only around 42% of individuals eligible for DSL service can receive broadband speeds, defined as minimum downloads of 25Mbps and minimum uploads of 3Mbps), it can be a cheaper alternative to satellite internet. Providers may keep pricing low because DSL leverages existing phone lines to offer service.

Notable DSL internet providers

  • AT&T
  • CenturyLink
  • Verizon
  • Frontier Communications
  • Windstream

Satellite internet: slow and pricey, but possibly the only alternative.

Because it does not rely on ground-based infrastructures such as cables, cellular towers, or line-of-sight antenna connections, satellite internet is the most broadly available sort of internet. Instead, you’ll need a unique dish to communicate with geostationary satellites that orbit far above you. There’s a considerable probability that if you have a clear view of the southern sky, there’s a satellite provider capable of supplying an internet connection to your home.

To get it started, your supplier will come out and install a satellite dish on your roof or the ground pointing southerly. It is most suitable for people who live in distant areas without access to other options, especially since bad weather and other obstacles may impair your service in ways that you are unable to control.

The typical speed range offered by modern satellite internet providers is 12 to 100 Mbps. This often makes it an excellent option for smaller houses wishing to stream video, browse the internet, and stay current on social media. By using low Earth orbit satellites, which are closer to the ground, new providers, like Elon Musk’s Starlink network, which started expanding service in some areas this year, claim to boost such speeds. This implies that the signal does not have to travel as far, resulting in less latency, or lag. Amazon’s Project Kuiper is another huge name attempting to enter the internet space race.

Notable satellite internet providers

  • HughesNet
  • Viasat
  • Starlink

Fixed wireless internet: Similar to satellite internet, but it is superior.

Fixed wireless internet is another alternative for remote towns. Permanent wireless, like satellite internet, involves the installation of a fixed receiver or antenna, although it is likely to be considerably smaller than a satellite dish. The antenna receives a signal from a nearby wireless hub and converts it into an internet connection.

Fixed wireless connections are ideal for places that lack the necessary resources for DSL. Place your antenna in an area with a clear view of the sky to get the strongest signal. Fixed wireless internet connections require a clear line of sight, so hills, trees, buildings, and other barriers might disrupt your connection.

Even though fixed wireless has typically been a rural internet option, firms like Google Fiber and Starry Internet are actively expanding the connection type in metropolitan areas. Some internet service providers offer service to big structures, such as an apartment complex, and then run service to individual apartments using an Ethernet connection, as opposed to beaming services to individual residences. With gigabit speeds available in some locations, these carriers can provide connections that are far faster than those provided by ordinary fixed wireless service.

Notable fixed wireless internet providers

  • AT&T
  • Google Fiber Webpass
  • Rise Broadband
  • Etheric Networks
  • Starry Internet
  • Unwired Broadband

Choosing the ideal internet package for you

What is the best internet connection for you, then? It depends on a variety of factors. The first thing to take into account is your typical use and how much speed you need. If all you want to do is browse the web and check your email, you can get by with a slower connection, but smaller houses with residents, who stream movies, play online games, or upload files for work or school should ideally have access to download rates of at least 25Mbps.

Of course, costs must be considered. Some service providers will bundle their products to provide you with a discount; however, keep in mind that the special pricing may not be accessible for the term of the service agreement. In such a situation, for instance, the second year of the identical service would cost more.

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