Accessing the internet is an essential part of many of our lives. We use the internet to get from place to place, pay bills, order food, stay connected with others and manage our schedules. From working at home to online schooling to countless forms of entertainment, the internet keeps us connected to the outside world, and it makes this connection seamless.
How you connect to the internet depends on where you live, what your purpose for using the web, and your budget. Depending on where you access the internet determines your choice of connection. For example, someone in the city has different options than someone in a rural area. Someone on the road has different needs than those at home.
Internet can be delivered through several means:
- Telephone Landlines
- Cable coaxial lines
- Broadband lines
- Fiber Optics
- Cellular signals
- Satellite dish
The type of internet service may have one or more of these means of delivery available. For example, telephone landlines can be used for dial-up and DSL service. Cable uses coaxial lines. Broadband and fiber optics can be used to deliver DSL or Cable services. Cellular signals use radio frequencies. Satellite uses a dish.
Here are the most common services available to access the internet.
The simplest form of internet connection is through your telephone line. Using a modem, your computer can connect to the telephone landline. A program is installed on your computer where you dial the internet service provider and are able to access the internet. The landline is either used for a telephone call or for internet access. You can’t do both at the same time. While the cost for dial-up service is low, download and upload speeds are very slow. If you just want to check your email and some other simple tasks and don’t mind waiting, this may work just fine for you.
The next form of internet also uses your telephone line. Adding a DSL service will allow the phone line to be used for both telephone calls and accessing the internet. Your phone line is attached to a DSL modem, which has plugs for phone service and internet service. Because the internet and phone service use different bandwidths, you can use both services at the same time. Add a router with Wi-Fi and you can connect multiple devices in your home. DSL tends to be a lower cost alternative and is accessible for anyone who already has a telephone landline, but the speeds vary depending on how close you are to the telephone company’s facility and the different DSL options available.
If there is cable service in your area, internet service can be added to your package. A coaxial cable is installed in your home, then attached to a router. Internet, cable and telephone lines can be run through this router; internet is basically using one of the cable channels. The major difference from DSL is that the bandwidth piped into your home is not all dedicated to your service, so during peak hours, the download or upload time may be slower depending on how many people are accessing the neighborhood network.
Cellular networks are getting more advanced and are reaching more and more areas. Depending on where you live, you can use your cellphone for numerous internet applications. Depending on where you are in proximity to the cell tower, you will have signals of 1X to 4G. This will determine how long it takes to download data. With 4G, you can do just about anything in the palm of your hand, from watching movies to getting directions to a new store. Enable the mobile hotspot feature and others can connect to your own Wi-Fi network. The future of cellular technology is strong as well. Soon 5G speeds and technology will be available in urban areas allowing faster and more advanced technologies such as smart cars.
A mobile hotspot is good for those on the go as well as at home if you have a good strong cellular signal in your area. Through a mobile hotspot, you can connect to the same cellular network your smartphone uses. Via Wi-Fi, all of the devices within range can share the same network. For home use, you can purchase a router with built-in Wi-Fi for all devices you don’t plug in, a small stand-alone hotspot can be placed in your home, or even many cell phones can function as a mobile hotspot. When you are on the go, you can take that device with you and it will work as long as there is a cell signal. On a side note, coffee shops, libraries, and recreation centers have complementary Wi-Fi and use mobile hotspots. There is usually a password you need to obtain, but you may save on data charges if your cellular plan is limited.
If you live in a rural area, you may want to consider satellite service. Through a modem, your computer sends a signal to the satellite dish installed on the outside of your house, which then sends a signal to the provider’s orbiting satellite in space and then on to the provider’s office. You will need a router with Wi-Fi to connect to more than one device. Drawbacks to this type of internet are the delay in service because the signal travels so far, the cost of equipment (you need a dish, router and modem), and sometimes weather is a factor in reliability of service.
Which is best for me?
Determine your internet needs and your budget and then research providers in your area to determine which one works best for your needs. Those in city settings and rural areas will have different options. Even which neighborhood you live in makes a difference. Depending on whether you are just accessing your email, streaming movies or sporting events, working from home or using the internet for countless other uses will all play a factor in your decision-making process.