Broadband Internet For Dummies – The Basics

I am not tech savvy in anyway and I’m usually the first to be asking questions or left scratching my head. Remember that scene in Zoolander where they are trying to find the file in the computer? I’m basically one step ahead of them but not by much. So when my eight year old niece saw a commercial for an internet service provider, she asked me how I got the internet on my laptop. In the past, she has asked me to look things up for her on the internet but this time she’s asking me how I got the internet.

She’s obviously asking the wrong person but I told her the basic version of it which I’m sure didn’t make much sense to her. Regardless, it got me thinking that a lot of people don’t know what broadband internet is or how it works. With so many service providers, it’s difficult to even select a company that you’d like. Take a company like Virgin Media, they have many different Virgin Media broadband packages to choose from. The type of package you choose obviously depends on what you need to use it for.

High-speed internet which is also commonly refereed to as broadband internet, is internet access of at least 200 Kbps (Kilobits per second). These high broadband internet speeds allows users to take advantage of the technology when it comes to things like video conferencing, streaming HD audio/video, speedy downloads and uploads, and voice calls over computers. The major types of broadband available in most developed nations include cable, DSL, satellite, fiber-optic, and the fastest growing mobile broadband for smart devices.

Cable Internet

I remember when we first made the switch to cable internet in the late 90’s or early 2000’s. It was the best thing since sliced bread. These were the days when teenagers became entrepreneurs selling downloaded music for $5 per CD. With cable internet, data is delivered at high-speeds over the same cable that is used to deliver the television data. Advanced cable internet can reach speeds as high as 75 Mbps or more. The downside to cable internet is that the speeds can be affected by other users within the same vicinity using the same cable connection as you.

DSL Internet

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is high-speed internet which is delivered over copper phone wires and I remember people in high school being super excited about getting DSL. With DSL, the lines are split into two different frequencies. One is used for data while the second is used for voice. Traditional DSL speeds can vary from 768 Kbps to speed as high as 7Mbps. That catch however is that you must be located within two miles of the phone company’s central office for those optimal speeds.

Fiber-optic Internet

Fiber-optic broad, sometimes referred to as just “fiber”, is high-speed internet delivered over fiber-optic lines. These lines use light to transmit data signals at faster speeds than traditional copper wires or coaxial cable.

Satellite Internet

Satellite broadband uses the orbiting satellites to transmit and receive broadband data. Satellite broadband is mainly used in areas where DSL, fiber-optic, and cable are not available or too expensive to build an infrastructure for it. Speeds for satellite broadband are similar to traditional DSL and speeds range between 768 kbps to 5Mbps. But keep in mind that data speed can be affected by changes in weather conditions as well as the physical position of the satellite. Inconsistent service is quite normal with satellite services.

Mobile Broadband

And finally, we have mobile broadband which is a wireless broadband technology made available via 3G/4G/LTE enabled smart devices such as smart phones, tablets, and e-book readers. The connection speeds will vary between carriers and are affected by the location and coverage provided by the carrier. When it comes to wireless broadband, LTE is the fastest and offers maximum theoretical download speeds as high as 150 Mbps.

There you have it folks, a basic lesson in the types of services that are available to you. Isn’t the advances in technology over the past two decades amazing?




Leave a Comment