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A Quick Overview of Cable, DSL and Satellite Broadband Internet



Which High Speed Broadband Connection is Right for You?

Cable

Cable Internet access uses the same Cable TV wiring already found in many homes, although your cable company will typically come out to install the cable model and software. Cable download speeds are theoretically up to 2 times faster than DSL, but because access is shared with other users in your neighborhood the speed can fluctuate depending on who is on the network. Since itís unlikely that everyone will be using the connection (that is, actually downloading information and not just reviewing Web pages) at the same time, each individual most of the time will not notice any degradation in service. Still, in more rural areas with fewer subscribers, you're bound to have faster download speeds than a subscriber in a metropolitan center.

Due to its speed and availability in most homes, Cable Internet is especially useful for people who enjoy playing online games, downloading music, sending instant messages, and surfing graphic-intensive web sites.

DSL

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) brings high-bandwidth to homes and small to medium sized businesses over the ordinary copper telephone lines presently installed behind your walls. DSL technology is available in various flavors, collectively referred to as xDSL. It allows voice, video and data to be transmitted at very fast speeds, 20 or more times faster than an ordinary 56K modem.

Your distance from a telephone company switching station will determine whether you can receive DSL (you typically have to be within 3 miles) and the speed of your connection. Depending on the flavor of DSL you have, DSL may require special jacks and connections or changes to the wiring inside your home but in the vast majority of cases you will be able to install DSL yourself.

DSL provides fast Internet access, high bandwidth and speed, reliability, "always on" service and increased security.

Satellite

Satellite Internet connects your computer to an Internet service provider through a satellite orbiting 22,000 miles above the earth. It doesn't require telephone lines or cable access, making it the one choice for high-speed Internet access in locations where DSL or Cable are not available. It does tend to be one of the more costly broadband alternatives.

Satellite Internet access is equipment-heavy. You will attach a small satellite dish to your house (or structure close by) that has a clear, unobstructed view of the southern sky to receive the signal. Like with satellite television reception, trees and heavy rains can affect reception of the Internet signals. You may also notice lags in the time between clicking on a link and receiving the data. These lags do not interfere with most Internet activities but can cause slowdown during online games and may interfere with some VPN software.



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