Internet Connection Types – What They Are & How They’re Different From Each Other

You know you have the internet, but do you know what type of connection you have? This might leave you scratching your head. Many people just simply have a go-to, or they’ve just had the internet through the same provider for years. So, maybe you haven’t considered that there might be a better connection type for your home or office? There are six different connection types, and they all have different pros and cons. Let’s explore what each of them is, from our top pick to our last choice when it comes to internet connection types. 

Fiber

Fiber or fiber optic is an internet connection that runs through fiber-optic cables. These cables are very thin and made out of glass. Fiber is really different from other connections since it uses cable when a lot of other connection types use the phone line’s copper wires. 

This technology is amazing and can carry much more data in a quicker manner than traditional connections. It has a great quality of connection that is immune to electromagnetic interference–making it faster and more seamless. If security is important to you, fiber also doesn’t have signals (since the information is carried by light), so it won’t be showing off your data to the world. 

One of the disadvantages to fiber is it is prone to what is called fiber fuses. This is where there are problems with the glass in the cables that are met with too much light, which can hurt the cables. The cables can also be damaged if you’re doing construction in your home and they accidentally get cut. It’s also important to keep in mind that the upfront cost to set up fiber in your home might be more expensive. Over time, it is cheaper than other options, but that upfront cost can be a deterrent.

So if you’re looking for a pure and fast internet connection, the download and upload speeds of fiber are amazing. It will get you better streaming for your TVs, games and other devices.

Fixed Wireless Connection

Have you heard of a fixed wireless connection? It’s a high-speed service that is especially great for people who live in more rural areas. When you live somewhere rural, often internet providers and services are limited. If this sounds like you, a fixed wireless connection might be great for your home or office. It also runs through airwaves instead of wires, so you won’t have to worry about a phone line.

A  pros of using this service, besides it being available in rural areas is there are no limits on the data. In addition, it’s very reliable and fast, which is why it’s also one of our top choices when it comes to internet connections. A con of a fixed wireless connection is that it might cost you a little more than other options. The cost is more comparable to cable service internet rather than a dial-up or DSL connection. So, it can be a little more expensive, but it’s not the most costly option either.

Cable

Cable internet connections work through the wiring from your cable TV. So, if you have internet from your cable provider, this is your connection type. Cable runs through a coaxial cable and a modem. It connects to the cable modem termination system (or CMTS) for your internet provider. This type of connection is different from others because it runs through the cable network, but unlike DSL, it is not slowed down by how far it is from the CMTS.

Some of the pros of cable internet include that it’s pretty fast and secure. So, you should be able to stream, play games and complete day-to-day internet tasks pretty easily. However, since cable connections are beholden to other users in your area, you might have slower internet speeds at peak usage times. It is also typically slower than other options like fiber.

If you have a cable TV provider, sometimes bundling your internet can be cheaper than other options. So, it would be pretty easy to set up, and while not the cheapest, it’s also not the most expensive. Overall, it’s a great option if you’re looking for a good connection without having to have any kind of new wiring installed.

Cellular

A cellular connection is probably one of the most utilized connections out there simply because it is how your smartphone or internet-enabled phone/device, connects to the internet. It is facilitated by being on a network and having your device connect to your provider’s cellular network. It utilizes phone towers and a large network to do this.

The very best thing about a cellular internet connection is that it’s portable. You don’t need wires to connect, and it can go with you when you’re not home or close to a router. It’s easy to use, convenient and pretty quick. It’s also a great option when your home internet provider is having an outage. Some disadvantages of cellular include that it can’t send as much data as other wired, traditional connections. 

As mentioned above, if you are looking for a connection that can go with you out and about, cellular is your connection type. As long as you have cell service, you should be able to access the internet. 

Satellite

A satellite connection sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel, and truly, it is very different from the other internet connection types. It’s essentially your internet provider, pinging at satellites to provide you with the internet. As such, there are no wires or cables.

This can be a great option because it’s available on the go. However, it can be really slow and interrupt activities like streaming, downloading or gameplay. This is because your satellite has to connect to another satellite in space. This is called having a high ping rate or having poor latency. This is a good connection for someone looking for internet for their simple day-to-day tasks.

Dial-Up

If you are over 30, you might remember this type of internet from several years ago. It’s hard to forget the distinctive sound that is made as the internet connects to your phone line. Yes, dial-up is called dial-up because it literally uses your phone line to connect to the internet. It starts out with a modem that connects to your phone line. 

This type of connection is cheaper and easy to use. However, it does tie up your phone line and does not have fast download speeds. 

If you live in a rural area, dial-up may be your only option. If so, it’s better to have the internet than not. Though it’s not the fastest or best, it will get you where you need to go.

Finding the Internet Connection that Meets your Needs

Here are a few things to consider as you choose the kind of internet you need:

  • What are you looking to pay?
  • Are you looking for a fast connection?
  • Are you willing to pay more for speed?
  • Are you on the go a lot?
  • What devices in your home require an internet connection?

While all connection types get you the internet, there’s a big difference between speed, cost, setup and what you are going to do with the internet. For example, if you’re always streaming shows or playing games, you will want a fast and clear connection, so fiber or fixed wireless might be your best bet. If you’re just looking to do basic day-to-day activities, and you don’t do gaming or streaming, you might be able to get away with a DSL connection.

It’s also important to think about how many devices you have on your internet. Do you have multiple computers, TVs, tablets, phones and gaming systems on your network? Do not forget about other sneaky devices like doorbell cameras, regular cameras or even a robot vacuum. You might be surprised how many devices are all competing for bandwidth on your network. So, it’s important to take all of these items into consideration when selecting a network type for your home or office.

Another important thing to know is many internet packages are tiered. So, you can pay for different speeds, depending on the type of internet you are looking at. Just keep this in mind when looking at cost and speed. You also should seek out a provider based on whether you need internet for your business or internet for your home. They both vary in cost and how many devices you can have on your network at a time. 

Now that you know more about the six different connection types, you’ll be better equipped to choose the types of service you need. Consider speaking with different internet providers before making your choice since some services may be better than others in certain geographical regions. Utah Broadband is a great place to start when it comes to getting the internet that best fits your needs.

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