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Broadband Internet Connections Explained

Choosing a broadband internet connection option

Broadband Internet connections are changing the online world. With broadband, a graphics intensive web page that used to take minutes to load in your browser now takes mere seconds! Multi-megabyte downloads that used to take hours now take minutes.

Below is a list of the different types of broadband connections available today along with the advantages, disadvantages, and availability of each.

DSL broadband connections

DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line. These broadband connections are provided by regular telephone and telecommunications companies over standard phone wires. The signal is "conditioned" by special equipment located at both the phone company and the subscriber locations.

Advantages of DSL Broadband:

  • Several times faster than dialup connections.
  • The broadband connection is "always on" 
    (no dialing up or logging in and no busy signals).
  • No second phone line is required. You can surf the 
    web and talk make calls at the same time.
Disadvantages of DSL Broadband:
  • Availability is very limited (you basically have to be "downtown").
  • More expensive than dialup. 
  • Requires a special broadband modem. 
  • When both services are running at maximum 
    speed, DSL is slower than a cable broadband
Cable broadband connections

Cable broadband internet connections are provided by local cable TV companies over high-speed fiber optic links.

Advantages of Cable Broadband:
  • When operating at full capacity, cable broadband is many times faster than dialup and considerably faster than DSL.
  • Installation is usually very fast (you can often install 
    it yourself with a fairly simple "self-installation" kit).
  • The broadband connection is "always on". 
Disadvantages of cable broadband:
  • The available bandwidth is shared by all of the cable users in your area which slows down the connection speed for everyone at peak times.
  • Cable broadband is more expensive than dialup. 
  • Requires a special broadband modem. 
  • Availability is limited to areas where digital cable lines 
    (fiber optic) have been installed.
Satellite Broadband Connections

Satellite broadband Internet connections use a communications satellite and a dish to connect you to the Internet.

Advantages of a satellite broadband connection:
  • Several times faster than dialup.
  • The broadband connection is "always on". 
  • Satellite broadband Internet is available almost 
    anywhere in North America where the subscriber
    has a clear view of the southern sky.
Disadvantages of satellite broadband:
  • Special equipment is required.
  • Relatively expensive to "get started" because of 
    special equipment costs.
  • Typically slower than cable broadband connections. 

Broadband Internet connections have made it possible to really enjoy surfing the web. Many content providers including AOL and Yahoo now offer rich media content that is optimized for broadband.

Your choice of broadband connections will depend on several factors, the most important being availability in your area. You're likely to be very happy with any available broadband connection (especially after being used to dialup).

If you're among the lucky few that happen to live in an area served by all three types of broadband connections you can make your decision based mainly on cost.

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