Fifteen years ago, there was basically one option if someone wanted to connect to the internet: get dial-up service through a phone line using a service such as Prodigy or America Online. While this got you online, it was slow, and it occupied a phone line while you browsed the web. You would need two lines if you wanted to use the phone and the internet at the same time.
Fast forward to the present – we now have a handful of different technologies to choose from for internet access. Which is the best? Which is the best for you? The following is an overview of your options, and what you can expect from each:
Digital Subscriber Line is sort of the evolution of dial-up. It still uses a standard telephone line, but it is much faster, and you can use your telephone at the same time. Couple this with a wireless router, and you have a nice solution for simple web browsing around the house with your laptop. DSL is among the least expensive options, but it is slow compared to other technologies available today. Don’t expect to be streaming high definition movies and TV shows with DSL.
Providers include AT&T and SBC Global.
This uses cable television lines to deliver internet access. In comparison to DSL, it is slightly more expensive — but much faster. If you already subscribe to Comcast or RCN for your television service, it is easy to add internet access to your bundle. You can also purchase home phone service through your cable provider.
Providers include Comcast and RCN.
Cell phones have come a long way in recent years, and can do much, much more than just make phone calls. They can now access the internet at faster speeds than many cable and DSL options. Now, cell phone companies such as Verizon and T-Mobile have ‘hotspots’ – small devices which connect to cellular networks to provide wired or wireless internet access to other devices such as laptops or tablet computers. The speeds are comparable to other ‘hard-wired’ options, and these devices offer a unique advantage: if you are travelling, you can bring the hotspot with you and have internet access anywhere you go! This is a great option for those who travel a lot, or maybe just want to use their laptop in the park. Pricing is comparable to cable internet options.
Providers include Verizon, AT&T, Clear, Cricket, Sprint, and T-Mobile.
One last note about cellular internet options — they are not all created equal. Cellular internet providers use a few different technologies which have varying speeds. However, just pay attention to this: ‘3G’ vs ‘4G’. 4G uses newer technologies and offers much faster speeds than 3G. Look for a device and provider that offers 4G, and you can’t go wrong.
In conclusion, when choosing your internet provider, make sure to explore all of your options. There are new technologies emerging all of the time and it can pay to be well-informed. If you’re interested in learning more about any of these options, feel free to e-mail or call me.