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Comparing the 5 Major Types of Broadband Internet

Learn everything you need to know about the different types of broadband Internet connections, including fiber, cable, wireless, DSL, cable, and satellite.

From online gaming to video conferencing, fast Internet is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity. However, finding the best broadband provider and high-speed Internet service that fits your needs (and budget) is not always easy.

Understanding the different types of broadband connections is the first step. Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s much easier to select the best Internet service provider (ISP) for your needs.

In this guide, we explore:

  • The Basics of Broadband Internet Service
  • Types of Broadband Providers and Internet Services
  • The Differences Between Fiber, Cable , Wireless, DSL and Satellite Internet
  • Comparison Chart of Price, Availability, Internet Speeds, and More
  • How to Find The Best Broadband Internet Provider in Your Area

What is Broadband Internet Service?

Broadband” is another way of saying high-speed Internet access (in comparison to dial-up speeds). Broadband Internet includes many kinds of technologies that help deliver fast Internet to a home or office. Services commonly offered by broadband providers include:

  • Cable Internet Technology
  • Fiber Optic Internet Technology
  • Wireless Internet Technology
  • Satellite Internet Technology
  • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Technology

The type of Internet connection offered by your ISP depends on whether you live in a rural area or a big city, your specific address, and many other factors.

Understanding the Different Types of Broadband Connections

Below, we’ll dive into the specifics of what each type of broadband connection really is and how it performs. This will give you a better idea of what types of services are actually available to you.

What is Fiber Optic Internet?

Fiber optic Internet service isn’t just fast Internet — in most cases, it’s the fastest.

Certain cable Internet providers can compete with lower-tier fiber optic plans on download speeds. However, no broadband service comes close to the upload speeds offered by fiber Internet.

Instead of using the traditional copper wires, fiber Internet uses fiber optic cables, allowing for a much faster, stronger Internet connection.

How Many Mbps is Fiber Optic Internet?

ISPs offering fiber Internet usually have multiple speed tiers. Exact download and upload speeds depend on the ISP, your location, and the specific plan you choose. Generally, you can expect the following Internet speeds with fiber:

  • Fiber Internet Download Speeds: 250-1,000+ Mbps
  • Fiber Internet Upload Speeds: 250-1,000+ Mbps

Pros and Cons of Fiber Optic Internet

Fiber Internet is still a fairly new technology. While it does offer the fastest Internet (in most cases), there are still a few drawbacks to be aware of., Pros and cons include:including:


  • Usually a better connection than DSL or 5G home Internetcable Internet
  • Faster speeds mean higher quality streaming
  • More secure than other types of broadband Internet


  • Limited availability in rural areas
  • Typically more costly than other Internet services

What is Cable Internet Service?

Cable Internet service allows ISPs to deliver high-speed Internet through the same coaxial cable as your TV. All you need is an Internet connection, modem, and WiFi router (if required).

In most cases, cable Internet is faster than DSL and more reliable. So much so that a report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concluded that most ISPs offering cable Internet and fiber optic often exceed their advertised speeds (unlike DSL providers).

How Many Mbps is Cable Internet?

Cable Internet speeds depend on your ISP, location, and a few more factors. However, you can generally expect Internet speeds in the following ranges:

  • Cable Internet download speeds: 25-500+ Mbps
  • Cable Internet upload speeds: 5-50 Mbps

Some ISPs may offer cable Internet that surpasses the ranges listed above.

Pros And Cons of Cable Internet

Cable Internet is among the most popular types of broadband Internet service, especially in urban areas. A few advantages and disadvantages include:


  • Fast enough to handle most household needs
  • It doesn’t require a landline
  • Widely available across the country


  • Connection fees are generally higher than some other types of service
  • Limited availability in rural areas

Take a deeper dive into the pros and cons of cable Internet.

What is Wireless Broadband Internet?

You can think of wireless broadband as an unshackled Internet. It’s not tied down by cables, wires, and lines. Instead, it uses radio signals to bring an Internet connection to you wherever you are.

How Many Mbps is Wireless Broadband Internet?

Much like other types of broadband connections, the exact speed of your wireless Internet depends on your location, equipment, line of sight, and many other factors. That said, you can expect the following speeds from a wireless connection:

  • Wireless broadband download speeds: 2-150 Mbps
  • Wireless broadband upload speeds: 0.5-23 Mbps

The speeds vary so much because they are dependent on the wireless technology you’re using to receive/send megabits of data (i.e., 3G, 4G, 5G, etc.).

Pros and Cons of Wireless Broadband

Wireless broadband Internet is all about convenience and mobility. But its reliance on signal strength can be a challenge.


  • Offers freedom to connect multiple devices from anywhere within range
  • Useful in areas where fiber, cable, or DSL connections aren't available


  • Speed can be affected by weather or obstructions
  • If proper protocols aren’t followed, security can be a concern
  • Higher potential for equipment failure

What is Satellite Broadband Internet?

Companies like HughesNet, DirectTV, and Starlink have each made significant contributions to the development and deployment of satellite Internet. When other broadband services can't reach you, satellite broadband steps in.

All you need is a satellite dish, modem, and line of sight. It delivers Internet connectivity from the sky, making it perfect for remote areas.

How Many Mbps is Satellite Internet?

For many people living in rural communities that otherwise don’t have broadband access, satellite Internet is a lifesaver. It can have latency issues sometimes. However, it’s still in very high demand and is known to be very reliable. That said, you can expect the following Internet speeds:

  • Satellite Internet Download Speeds: 12-150 Mbps
  • Satellite Internet Upload Speeds: 3-50 Mbps

Pros and Cons of Satellite Internet

While satellite Internet is often very reliable, there are always benefits and drawbacks. Here’s a look at some of the good and bad:


  • Can reach almost anywhere, making it the go-to for remote and rural areas
  • Unaffected by terrestrial obstacles (mountains, buildings, bunkers, etc.)


  • Slower and usually more expensive than other broadband types
  • Bad weather tends to result in slower Internet speeds

What is DSL Internet Service?

DSL is a method of Internet service delivery that involves fast data transmission via pre-installed copper telephone lines.

While DSL does use a phone line to deliver faster Internet speeds, it uses a different frequency than your telephone. That means that you can use the Internet and talk on your landline simultaneously — unlike dial-up Internet.

Generally, DSL Internet service is faster than dial-up but considerably slower than a fiber optic or cable network.

The two main types of DSL Internet include asymmetric digital subscriber lines (ADSL) and symmetric digital subscriber lines (SDSL). Most home residences have ADSL, while SDSL is usually reserved for businesses that need faster speeds for both sending and receiving data.

How Many Mbps is DSL?

DSL download and upload speeds can vary depending on where you live and which ISP you use. Mbps speeds generally fall into the following ranges:

  • DSL Download Speeds: 1-35 Mbps
  • DSL Upload Speeds: 1-10 Mbps

In limited cases, ISPs may offer faster forms of DSL Internet services with speeds up to 45 Mbps. However, that’s typically only available in select areas.

Pros & Cons of DSL Internet

DSL Internet was once an emerging technology. However, it has since been outperformed by other types of Internet service. While there are a few glaring disadvantages of DSL Internet, there are also a few advantages.


  • DSL Internet is available just about everywhere (including many rural areas)
  • It’s typically less expensive than other broadband options
  • You don't have to share bandwidth


  • Far slower speeds than other broadband services
  • The greater distance you live from your ISP, the slower your Internet speed

How Do These Types of Broadband Internet Connections Compare?

So, how do these broadband types stack up against each other? Let's lay it out:

Type  Download Speed Average Price Availability
Fiber 250-1,000+ Mbps $$$ Currently limited to mostly urban areas
Cable  25-500+ Mbps $$ High in urban areas, limited in rural areas
Satellite 12-150 Mbps $$$ High in urban and rural areas
Wireless 2-150 Mbps $$ High in urban and rural areas
DSL 1-35 Mbps $ High in urban and rural areas

What Type of Broadband Internet is Best for Me?

Ultimately, the best broadband type for you depends on how you use the Internet, the number of people sharing the connection, where you live, and how much you're willing to pay.

Are you interested in fast Internet service but unsure of which ISP offers the best deals in your area? We can help. SmartMove is here to connect you to the best Internet providers available to you.

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