Which Kind of Broadband Internet is Right for Me?

There are more possibilities than ever before for connecting your home to the digital world. Since more choice can bring more uncertainty, we’re here to help simplify your options a bit. Keep reading to discover which kind of Internet is right for you.

What is Broadband?

“Broadband Internet” encompasses the many types of technologies that bring fast Internet to your home or office — including fiber-based Internet, DSL, satellite, and fixed wireless. And this world of high-speed, always-ready, broadband Internet access is only expanding as new technologies emerge.

Simply put, Broadband Internet is high-speed Internet. It represents the most readily available types of Internet for most of the country. Services commonly offered by broadband Internet providers include the following.

Fiber-Based Broadband Internet

Fiber-based broadband Internet is supported by two types of providers – cable and telecommunications companies. Both use fiber to get you connected to the Internet; they vary only in how that connection is delivered into your home.

Fiber Internet from Cable Companies 
Cable Internet service is the USA’s most prevalent means of connecting homes to the Internet. In fact, 90% of American households can access cable Internet, making it the most popular way to get online.

Cable Internet uses fiber optics to deliver the signal to your neighborhood or street, and then uses a coaxial cable to bring that signal to your home. By connecting state-of-the-art fiber highways to high-capacity coaxial cables , this creates a best of both worlds effect, with about 99.6% of the connection occurring over the fiber portion of the network. Speeds vary by location but are available up to two gigabits per second or higher (Gbps).

Fiber Internet from Telecommunications Companies

What is commonly called “fiber Internet” refers to a high-speed Internet network made up of fiber lines that run to the side of your home. Instead of directly connecting to your computer, fiber optics then connect to an ethernet or computer cable to eventually transfer to your router or WiFi.

Speeds vary based on location, but both solutions bring you reliable Internet that hurdles along at astonishing speeds, ranging from hundreds of megabits per second to two gigabits per second and beyond.

Fiber-based Internet is the gold standard for home Internet connections and is a great choice for those who work from home with data-heavy programs; as well as for avid online gamers, and households with dozens of connected devices, including a smart home setup.

Other Connections
DSL Internet

DSL stands for “digital subscriber line.” DSL uses the wires from landline phone services to bring Internet into your home. In the 1990s, this was how most homes surfed the web. But technology has advanced since then, and DSL runs considerably slower than fiber-based Internet services. About 30 times slower to be exact, with max speeds reaching 25-30 megabits per second.

So why would you consider it? Availability. In some areas, DSL may be your only option. Something to keep in mind when setting up a connection: ask your provider directly if it’s fiber-based, if not it may be a DSL connection you’re dealing with. In fact, most telephone companies still predominantly offer DSL.

5G Home Internet

5G Home Internet or Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) is an evolving technology that comes with the promise of fast speeds and connectivity for your household. But there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding its reliability and how it differs from 5G Mobile. The truth is – it really doesn’t. 5G Home Internet speed relies on the same cell towers as 5G mobile devices, which means they are essentially competing for capacity with cell phones. Plus, they’re impacted by the same obstructions such as buildings and trees.

While the technology behind 5G is a great choice when it comes to mobile data on your phone and for serving remote areas with limited broadband connectivity options, the same cannot be said for powering most in-home Internet needs.

Satellite Internet

For years, the idea of using satellites as a means of delivering Internet was considered a last-resort option, hobbled by monthly usage restrictions, inclement weather, and slow connections. Similar to DSL and 5G fixed wireless, satellite Internet is generally better suited for areas where other fiber-based Internet connections are not yet available. While satellite connections have advanced in recent years, satellite Internet customers will continue to experience lower speeds and data restrictions than fiber-based Internet customers.

What Is 10G™? Essentially, 10G™ is a future-proofed initiative designed to keep us connected as digital technologies continue to advance. It’s the industry’s collective commitment to advancing network capacity — from one gigabit to 10G and beyond — in an effort to empower households with a reliable blend of speed, availability and security.

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How Much Speed Do You Need?

Your Internet speed depends on your digital needs. Are you and other members of your household working, attending an online school, or doing homework at home? Do you have several video calls a day? Are you a gamer or a fan of weekend streaming binges?

Our speed quiz is designed to help you discover which speed is right for you. Check it out then use our speed test tool to compare your current Internet speed to what your optimal service might offer.

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Speed Matters

The question of speed hinges on what sorts of applications you use, how frequently you use them, and how many different devices are relying on your Internet service at the same time. If you’re a remote worker whose day consists of a steady stream of Zoom meetings and document downloads at the same time other housemates are streaming content — you probably require a connection speed of 200 or more megabits per second. Signing up for a one gigabit per second Internet connection (the equivalent of 1,000 megabits!) might be even better.

Even so, not everybody needs a “gig.” Fewer users, less frequent online activity and a lower number of devices can shift the equation. Even some high-performance apps can be accommodated at somewhat lower speeds. Netflix advises at least a 15 megabits-per-second connection for a high-quality 4K viewing experience. But keep in mind, you can’t do much more than that at the same time. Our advice: choose the service level that gives you the highest data rates for the amount you’re comfortable spending. It’s also helpful to check your provider’s list of options to make sure you have flexibility to upgrade at any time.

What Internet is Best for Me?

The provider and plan you choose can impact speed and data usage, so it’s essential to know your specific needs when exploring your options.

While advanced technology has brought us so many ways to connect, the type of Internet connection offered by a provider depends on where you live (i.e., countryside vs. big city), availability in your specific location (i.e., certain apartment complexes may not offer certain types of Internet services), and many other factors. It’s crucial to choose the best connection for your household.


Which Broadband Internet Service Is Right For Your Home?

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