Whether you use the ‘net once a week or spend hours surfing every day, there are plenty of options available to help you get online. Internet service providers (often called ISPs) offer various packages and types of Internet service, and each type comes with its own pros and cons. If you’re trying to choose the best ISP, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Some are priced higher than others, and you will generally pay more if you want faster speeds.
Four of the most common options are dial-up, satellite, broadband, and mobile Internet. Each has its own place depending on your lifestyle needs. Here’s what you need to know about these common connection choices.
If you connect via dial-up service, you probably won’t have as many options for choosing a good ISP. Internet providers are increasingly moving away from this low-cost, low-speed option, except in rural areas where broadband and other options simply aren’t available. Internet service can be frustrating on dial-up because webpages, email attachments, and so on will load slowly. You will also need to wait to connect to the Internet. Still, if you’re looking for a low-cost option and you don’t use your computer very often, dial-up can work for you.
While not as fast as broadband, satellite service is perfect for those too rural to obtain your usual DSL service. Internet speeds when you’re connecting via satellites orbiting the Earth requires, as you might expect, a satellite dish to pick up these signals. Services like HughesNet satellite Internet service are starting to get faster, so if you want an option that’s more flexible than broadband and can be installed in a remote area, satellite is the way to go.
The standard Internet service today is broadband, and the most popular types are DSL and cable. ISPs will provide a modem so you can connect whenever you like, and you don’t have to wait to connect like you do with dial-up. Cable is typically faster than DSL, and both types are significantly faster than dial-up or satellite service.
The latest type of Internet service is mobile service, which can be provided in the form of tethering (from a mobile phone), USB keys, and more. Mobile connections are great for those who are frequently on the road or plan to travel by car, for example. Mobile Internet is also perfect if you tend to be out of the house a lot and need to be able to connect quickly.
Different types of Internet service are suitable for different people. You should assess your own individual needs before deciding on the type of connection that’s right for you. Slower connections tend to be cheaper, so if you’re an infrequent user, there’s no sense in wasting money on “always-on” connections. If you tend to be online a lot, don’t frustrate yourself by trying to save money with dial-up. Check with at least two ISPs in your area to compare pricing, packages, and different types of connections before you decide on one.
Jerry Lehman travels on business constantly and is always concerned with Internet access. An avid blogger, he likes to share what he learns by posting mainly on technology blogs.