Let’s face it: We all want things to be quick. We want our phones to send texts right away; we want our apps to stream seamlessly; and we want to see content the minute it is published. This generation of internet users is not accustomed to Internet that takes more than two seconds to connect to the World Wide Web or Internet that is slow to download a two-hour movie to one of our devices.
The problem is that there are so many types of Internet that it is hard to discern which one is best. Some Internet speeds are great for uploading and downloading—but only for a range of one to three users. Other types of Internet connections are better for multi-user homes that have an always-connected household. And yet, other Internet plans are better suited for multiplayer gaming and multiple-device connection.
Depending on your needs and use for the Internet, the options can seem endless and, frankly, overwhelming. One thing is certain, though: Internet connection is no longer optional. It is an indispensable part of our lives. Acronyms like “Mbps” have become a regular part of our vocabulary, and the availability of high-speed Internet and WiFi can determine how smoothly our day goes.
Cable companies have made it easier for us in a lot of ways when it comes to the options we have for wireless Internet, but it can also be very confusing if we don’t know exactly what to look for when comparing internet plans and bundles.
It is important to be educated in the types of high-speed Internet available. The best decisions are informed decisions. Sometimes it’s important to dive a little deeper into the world of the Internet to really know what is best for us as consumers and users.
How much speed you need really depends on what you use the Internet for on a daily basis. Before you do your research about what best suits you and your needs, think about what type of things you want to accomplish with your Internet plan.
The answers to all these questions are important because they will help determine how many megabits per second (Mbps) you will want in a plan.
Mbps is a measure of your Internet bandwidth. Essentially, the Mbps speed determines the download and upload rate of your Internet connection—the higher the Mbps, the better and more efficient your connection will be.
The way Mbps is measured is simple. For example, for a household with only one or two users that only utilize the Internet for simple searches and email, an Internet connection of three to eight Mbps works fine.
If you are someone who utilizes the Internet for a lot of downloading and uploading and sharing large files, or if you have an overall need for fast and efficient Internet, then an Mbps speed of at least 25 will be needed to be able to accomplish everything you want, but different companies offer variations of Mbps per plan or bundle—with download speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps to accommodate extensive files, multiplayer gaming, and large amounts of data being downloaded and uploaded.
If you are not sure what your current Internet speed is, you can always run a speed test and see where you stand.
There are a number of websites online that can help with running a speed test on your computer. A speed test measures the speed between your device and a test server. This can help you figure out how fast your current Internet has the ability to download and upload files.
Once you figure out what your speed is and what kind of needs you have, then you can move on to searching for the best internet option for you and your household.
There are four types of internet connection that you should pay attention to:
DSL refers to Internet that uses a wall jack on an existing telephone line to connect users to a high-speed bandwidth connection. Some might say that DSL is closely related to dial-up Internet because of the connection to the wall jack; however, unlike a dial-up connection, with a DSL connection, you can still use your landline without disconnecting from the Internet.
Because DSL uses the phone line to connect, it is widely available in most homes. DSL is also an inexpensive way to have Internet at home without breaking the bank. The con to DSL is that it is slow, and it also tends to work better the closer you are to the central connection.
To put it in simple words, DSL is old school, and while it is affordable, it is not very practical for users who want to utilize their Internet connection for more than just simple browsing. Download speeds typically range from 5 to 100 Mbps.
Cable Internet, on the other hand, uses coaxial cables to send a data signal to your home via a modem. The modem then uses an ethernet cable to connect to your router or computer, and this is what gives you Internet access.
Fairly popular, cable Internet can provide much higher speeds than DSL connections at a reasonable price. Cable Internet is great for whenever you want to purchase bundles through cable companies, as there are usually good deals on cable Internet when purchased with cable TV. Download speeds can reach up to 1,000 Mbps depending on the plan you get, and the connection is much more reliable than with DSL.
Just like the name implies, satellite Internet service providers use a satellite to connect users to the Internet. The Internet provider sends a signal to a satellite in space, and the Internet signal then comes to you once it’s captured by your satellite dish—pretty cool stuff!
While satellite Internet works in an innovative way by utilizing satellites in space, it’s not as reliable or as fast as cable internet. Speed for satellite Internet usually ranges between 25 and 100 Mbps. Cable is still faster than both DSL and satellite Internet because it reaches up to 1,000 Mbps.
Satellite internet tends to be more popular in rural areas where the options are limited to dial-up, slow versions of DSL, or satellite Internet. While the pricing for satellite Internet is reasonable, if you have the option to get cable Internet, it’ll be more cost efficient than satellite in the long run.
Also known simply as fiber Internet, fiber-optic Internet is considered to be the fastest type of Internet. Until now, we’ve talked about cable Internet reaching up to 1,000 Mbps in terms of download, but upload speed is usually slower. Fiber Internet can deliver 1,000 Mbps speed for both uploads and downloads, which easily makes it the fastest Internet out there.
The way fiber Internet works is by utilizing fiber-optic cables that can send data so fast that it’s about 70% the speed of light, which means that your uploading and downloading would finish in seconds. Large file sharing, online gaming, and backups all work in the blink of an eye.
Fiber Internet is ideal for multi-user households. It enhances streaming capabilities and can make the household a smart one by helping connect all sorts of devices and appliances to one Internet connection. With fiber Internet, you will never have to experience the dreaded buffering of media or movies stopping midway to download. Fiber Internet is the modern way to to go when it comes to Internet.
It’s tempting to assume that WiFi and high-speed Internet are the same thing. Even though they are similar, they work differently, and they mean different things.
WiFi is a wireless network that uses Internet connections to send data through the air to wide area networks (WANs) and to wireless computers. Basically, WiFi is a way to connect to the Internet without having to use an ethernet cable or a satellite. It is a very convenient way to get online.
However, even though WiFi is generally very useful, it is not always the most secure. With high-speed Internet that you personally acquire through cable, satellite, DSL, or fiber—the connection is more secure because it is connected to a cable (or a satellite) in your own house or business. It is more difficult for someone to break into it without being inside of your house or without you giving someone your password.
WiFi, on the other hand, can technically be open for anyone to join unless you make sure to secure it with a sufficiently strong password that you only share with trusted family members or friends. WiFi connections also tend to be more prone to hacking and viruses.
The main benefit of WiFi is its ability to be taken anywhere. Users are not tethered to cables or satellites in order to get online and use the internet. This is what makes WiFi so attractive to users everywhere.
The main takeaway is that if you’re looking for speed, high-speed internet is the way to go, but for quick access anywhere, WiFi is the better option.
Internet connections are constantly evolving and changing. This is why it’s imperative to do research to compare Internet options and what they can offer. It’s also important for us, as users, to understand our needs to help us choose the best high-speed internet.