Do you find yourself waiting around for your Internet pages to load or digital photo files and other attachments to transfer? Do your friends and family complain that they can never get through on the phone line because you or your kids are always online. Chances are you are still using dial up Internet service. Perhaps it’s time to consider an alternative method.
The main three types of high speed access include DSL, cable and satellite Internet. At the current time, DSL and cable services are not available in all areas. Some parts of the country do not have access to either option. Good satellite Internet reception is dependant on an unobstructed line of sight to the south. So where you live can make a big difference in which high speed Internet service you choose. Here are some overviews of each service and comparisons for those fortunate to have more than one option available.
DSL, which stands for Digital Subscriber Line, describes a technology that taps into unused frequencies on copper telephone lines to transmit information at much higher speeds. There is no dialup and accessing services. So access is immediate. With DSL, you can send both voice and high speed data over the same line. The bandwith, or data transfer capacity, or DSL ranges from 128 Kbps to 1.544 Mbps downstream to your computer. Upstream transfer from your computer is usually limited to 128 Kbps. Bandwith is dedicated so you don’t have to share with other users, but DSL is also more effective the closer you are to service provider’s facilities. If your local area has plenty of cable bandwith available it may be a better option for those located greater distances from a DSL provider. Average monthly charges for DSL services are around $55-$65.
Verizon is one of the leading providers of high speed DSL service, with a large coverage area. With Verizon DSL you get a monthly package for $34.95 that includes unlimited access with a personalized home page, 9 e-mail accounts, and 10 megabytes of web space. For those customers with multiple computers in the home, there is a home networking option available. You can connect multiple home computers and laptops to a single high-speed DSL Internet connection at no additional monthly cost.
Earthlink DSL is another option. Their basic package, which includes the same features as Verizon’s offer also includes a free dial-up service which allows you to enjoy 20 hours of Internet access per month when you’re away from home. This package typically costs $39.99 per month. Earthlink also offers cable and satellite Internet.
As noted, DSL uses copper telephone wires. Rural areas and some cities do not have these wires available for large volume use, which means that DSL is not yet an option in those areas, even if Verizon, Earthlink or another provider offers services there.
If you have cable TV available in your area, chances are that you have access to Internet through your cable provider. This service uses the same wires as your cable TV programming and depending on the provider and the area, there may be a good deal of broadwith available or a more limited amount. Because users share broadwith, this could be an issue for those living in areas with limited amounts available for Internet use. It is a good question to ask your cable provider before signing up. Your choice for cable Internet is typically limited to only those providers who offer cable TV in your area. On average, cable Internet does tend to be a bit faster than DSL. Service is often slightly less expensive than DSL, averaging around $45 per month.
If you do not have DSL or cable Internet available in your area, satellite Internet may provide a viable option. Its speed is comparable to other high speed Internet services, its always on, and you have the option of adding satellite TV service. However, it requires that you have a clear view of the southern sky from your home anywhere in the continental United States in order to receive good reception from the satellites. The service is typically a good deal more expensive than the other two high speed options discussed, averaging around $100 per month with installation fees of up to $400.
Some people confuse satellite Internet with what’s known as WiFi. WiFi Internet services are actually provided by access nodes located in high traffic areas such as airports and hotel or through Internet cafes. If you have a laptop equipped with WiFi receiver, you can access services from within about 1000 feet of the node. There is typically a fee to use this service. It is a good idea for travelers but does not meet the need for home Internet use because it required the access node.
Although there are several satellite Internet providers, they all use similar technology. DirecTV is a popular provider because they are also a top satellite TV company. DirecTV satellite Internet service is delivered through a wholly owned subsidiary, DIRECWAY. DirecTV satellite Internet costs $99.99 per month and requires customers to purchase a satellite dish and modem. Installation is typically available from the distributor.
This comparison chart taken from the High Speed Internet Guide should give you a fair idea of the speed and costs involved. However, it is important to note that the data transfer rates you can get from either DSL or Cable will depend entirely on whatever local providers are in your area.