To access the internet from homes, offices or mobile devices, internet services are necessary. This is offered in mainly four different forms – Digital Subscriber Line or DSL, cable, fiber-optic and satellite. All the above are commonly known as broadband services since they provide high access speeds compared to the old dial-up connection, which is the only non-broadband service. Although this is the cheapest way of connecting to the Internet, most users prefer faster connections such as provided by a broadband Internet connection.
The DSL connection makes use of unutilized telephone wires to provide Internet service. The speed of the connection varies with the distance of the user from the switching station – the speed will be slower the further away the user is.
A local provider of cable TV provides broadband Internet services through cable. Here, there will be several subscribers on a single service, sharing the bandwidth. The speed will vary with the number of users on the service at any specific time – decreasing as the number of connected users goes up. The speed is usually at its lowest at peak times, for example in the late evenings when many people will access the internet after the day’s work is over.
Fiber optics provides the fastest Internet connection and is the latest method. Since it is one of the newest methods, service areas are limited. In addition, laying fiber-optic cables under the ground is a time-taking task. Although the cost is comparable to that of both DSL and cable, the service provided by the fiber-cable is of a much faster connection.
Satellite services are one of the slowest forms of Internet connection and the most expensive. They are also notoriously complicated to set up and use. However, for people living in remote rural areas, a satellite broadband Internet service may be the only means of communication possible.
Broadband Internet services provide several advantages over more conventional means of accessing the Internet. DSL and cable connections are very easy to obtain and connect with the computer. The high speeds enable users to multitask while working on the Internet. For example, it is possible to surf the net while listening to music over the web.
At home as well as in the office, networking of several computers is made easier with a shared broadband connection. Both wireless as well as wired modems are available for this purpose.
Another trend recently introduced is the mobile broadband service. The modem offered is typically in the shape of a USB stick, only larger. It comprises a wireless device and a socket for the SIM card. When connected to the computer and supplied with the username and password, the wireless device searches for and connects to the transmissions of the service provider. Nowadays, with newer devices in the 4G or fourth generation, very high speeds are achievable.
One of the main advantages of broadband services is that it will not keep your phone lines engaged while you are surfing. This was the case with the old dial-up type of Internet service, where the user would not be able to make or receive telephone calls while connected to the Internet.