ISPs or internet service providers are companies that give customers access to the internet. There are numerous providers considering how many of us use the internet for communication and business. However, there are only a few types of internet connections.
By type, we mean the hardware or method that allows us to connect to the internet. Slower connections like dial ups are no longer popular except where better services are not available or in regions where broadband or WiFi is too expensive.
The speed of ISP services varies greatly from only a couple of kilobytes a second to several hundred of megabits a second. This speed comes at a price with fast connections costing four or five times the cost of slower dial ups.
Dial up: Dial up services rely on a conventional telephone line to transmit data between your computer and servers. It's among the first type of internet connections made available to the public. The quality of phone lines plays a role but maximum speeds do not usually cross 56 kbps. After the slow speed, dial up connections are very cheap and are available anywhere phone lines can be established.
DSL: Digital subscriber line or DSL technology also uses phone lines but with the addition of models to increase internet speed. ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) and SDSL (symmetric digital subscriber line) make up the technology.
Speeds range between 128 kbps and 9 Mbps. Line condition and DSL technology have a bearing on speed.
Cable: Cable, also called broadband, is a notch above DSL. Although incredibly fast, it's not cost prohibitive. Depending on the subscription plan (whether limited or unlimited bandwidth), monthly charges can run up to and over $ 55. It's possible to get a better deal if your ISP and cable TV provider are one and the same.
The term 'cable' applies to the use of fiber optic cables used in cable television lines. Since bandwidth is greater with coaxial cables, speeds can touch 20 Mbps which is extremely fast.
WiFi: WiFi is based on newer technology than broadband. It uses no cables and phone lines but radio waves to transmit data. Think of cell phones and how they work. WiFi is run on the same principle.
What is needed is an adapter and a router to decode the signals sent by the device using WiFi and transmit them back. Again, depending on the technology and signal strength, speeds can touch up to 300 Mbps although the average is around 11 Mbps.
WiFi is fast becoming the standard way to access the Web in urban cities. However, limited range of hotspots (areas with accessible WiFi) and the expensive cost of the technology are stumbling blocks for many regions.
So, which type is the best for you? If you're a novice internet user and want to be able to download, upload, communicate (video, voice) and access the web for a variety of purposes, a broadband will serve you well. If your city has many hotspots then WiFi is a wiser choice. If, however, you do not intend to use the internet for reasons other than occasionally checking your email or simply surfing the Web, a DSL will serve you just fine. Remember, fast connections are a joy to use but if you have no use for them, you'll be wasting good money every month.