“High Speed Internet” is one of those terms you hear quite frequently in radio ads and TV commercials. It’s used to describe all sorts of services that may or may not be good deals for average consumers. The best way to make sure you’re getting the most for your money is to be informed, so let’s take a closer look at the different options out there.
Dial-Up: Slow, Undependable and Aggravating
For the first few years of Internet service, the only way most people could get online was by signing up with a service like America Online (AOL) and paying a monthly fee, plus per-minute rates. Their PC modems would call a local access number, the user would hear a horrendous screeching noise, and after a minute or so, their connection would be established.
Millions, in fact, still use this kind of hookup. But the number is getting smaller every day, and with good reason. Dial-up is very slow by today’s standards, especially for those who like to watch online videos or listen to music. It tends to throw people off the Net with no warning, causing frustration and stress when they must go through the whole process over again. While it was fine in its time, dial-up Internet just isn’t much of a bargain nowadays.
The Alternatives: Satellite, DSL, and Cable
These three Internet options are the alternatives to dial-up that you hear most about. Satellite relies on a signal from space. Even when it works, it’s slower than both cable and DSL. It’s also highly vulnerable to changes in the weather; sometimes even light showers can disrupt the connection. It also tends to cost more than other services.
DSL vs. Cable: Which is Best?
DSL is provided by the local phone company. Unlike dial-up, it allows users to make and receive phone calls while online. It’s relatively fast and overall, it’s pretty reliable.
Cable-based Internet services are the fastest option available to most people. In fact, it can often be 5-10 times faster than DSL! One drawback of it is that speeds can slow down if a lot of people are online at the same time. However, this is changing as cable companies install new equipment to fix this problem.
The Bottom Line: Cable Internet is One of the Best Internet Options
If you already have cable, or if you’re planning on signing up for it, then chances are your local provider can add High Speed Internet to a bundled package, saving you money. Given that cable’s streaming and download speeds are the fastest in the industry, it’s the best solution for most folks who want a quick, reliable connection to the web. For those who can’t access cable, DSL offers reasonably fast service. And, for those who live in isolated areas, satellite is faster than dial-up, making it a better, although more costly, option.