Internet Connection Types

There are several different internet connection types and each has a number of pros and cons. Ultimately some people may only have one option available at their home address. However, most people will have the choice of at least cable and DSL. Some people will also have the option of fiber based internet service. Cellular is a great option if you need your internet to be easily mobile or if you can’t get cable or DSL at your location. Satellite is generally last resort only. Useful if no other service is available at your location.

Learn What Your Router Can Do Beyond Connecting to the Internet

DSL  

DSL is a digital technology used to provide high speed internet over traditional copper phone lines. Although DSL uses the same physical wiring as a landline phone the two services can be used at the same time.   

Pros  

  • Available in most places including rural areas.  
  • Often the lowest cost option.  
  • Usually a high data cap sometimes unlimited.  

Cons  

  • Generally slower than cable or fiber options.  
  • Price is often similar to cable or fiber options.  
  • Often a higher ping time than cable or fiber.  
  • Often additional fee if not bundled with phone.  

Best For  

  • Users that can’t get cable or fiber due to their location.  
  • Users that are looking for the absolute lowest cost and don’t use the internet that heavily.   

Cable  

Cable internet service uses the existing cable TV wiring in your building to provide high speed internet access. Service can be purchased on its own or with a cable TV bundle at a discounted rate.  

Pros  

  • Available in many places.  
  • Generally very high download speeds.  
  • Usually a high data cap sometimes unlimited.  

Cons  

  • Upload speeds tend to be lower than with fiber.  
  • Not available in some rural areas.  
  • Connection speeds can be overstated however tend to be faster than DSL or Cellular.   

Best For  

  • Users that do lots of bandwidth intensive activities such as streaming and do not have access to fiber internet due to their location.   
Cable Modem

Fiber  

Fiber optic internet service uses a fiber optic cable ran to the building from the internet service provider. It often requires some wiring to be completed as port of the install.  

Pros  

  • Fastest speeds of any internet service.  
  • Symmetrical download and upload speeds.   
  • Often similar in cost to cable and DSL  
  • Usually a high data cap sometimes unlimited.  

Cons  

  • Not available in most places.  

Best For  

  • Most users that live where fiber internet is available.   
  • Users that want the absolute fastest connection and the lowest ping times.   

Cellular

Uses the same technology as your smartphone to send and receive internet data. Available in the most places and easily mobile unlike hardwired options such as cable, DSL and fiber.  

Pros  

  •  Available in most locations.  
  • Great for people who need temporary internet access such as for an RV or a summer home.   

Cons  

  • Usually billed by the gigabyte and the most expensive option for most people.  
  • Speeds tend to be much lower than cable or fiber and less consistent than with DSL.   

Best for  

  • Users that want their internet connection to be mobile and willing to pay a premium for mobility.   
  • Users in places with no other service available.   
cell-tower

Satellite  

Uses geostationary satellites to provide internet connectivity virtually anywhere on the Earth. Generally the only service available in the most remote of locations.  

Pros  

  •  Available in virtually all locations.  

Cons  

  • Extremely high latency. Makes online gaming and VoIP impossible. 
  • Lower bandwidth caps often less than 50 GB per month. 
  • Generally lowest speeds except dial up . 
  • Requires careful positioning of the satellite dish. 
  • Expensive compared to cable, DSL, or Fiber options. 

Best for 

  • Users with no other options available at their location.   
satellite dish

Bonus Content: Learn How to Keep Your Internet Working During a Power Outage