There are a lot of different ways of connecting to the internet today. Some have definite advantages above others, and in this post I hope to get you up to date on the current advantages and disadvantages of all the modern connection types.
"Working with Packetworks has been a pleasure. Situated as we are, in a rural area between two towns, we are accustomed to waiting up to a week for service from various providers when we experience a problem. But Packetworks is different: if we have network problems, they address them right away and we are back in business."
Dial up connections are the oldest, most out of date connections still available today. They are incredibly slow, unreliable, take up your phone line, and they make the very loud and annoying dial up sound when connecting to the internet. The only real benefit of a dial up connection is that it might be the only kind of internet available that is reasonably priced where you live or where your business is located. This is the only kind of internet that I will say, with 100% certainty, if you can upgrade from this connection, you should.
DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line. In a DSL connection you are using a 2 way phone line to connect to the internet, without disturbing your phone. DSL is the most common form of home internet connection today, and is also very popular for small businesses. There are many variants of it, all with different speeds. The two basic common types of DSL are as follows:
ADSL stands for asymmetric DSL, and its distinguishing characteristic is that the upload and download speeds are different. Usually the download speed is faster than your upload speed, and this is because the typical user will be downloading things more often than uploading things.
SDSL stands for symmetric DSL, and its distinguishing characteristic is that the upload and download speeds are the same.
FTTN (Fiber To The Node)
The installation of optical fiber to a junction box (node) in a neighborhood or business park that serves a few hundred customers within a radius of about a mile. FTTN will be significantly faster than DSL but not as fast as fibre.
Ethernet Over Cable
Ethernet Over Cable is very similar to DSL, however you the service will be provided over a coax cable infrastructure instead of a phone line to connect to the internet. Again, depending on the ISP or your internet package you could get vastly different speeds from another cable user.
Tier 1 or T1 is a digital line that is usually private and used for businesses. The businesses that use T1 tend to have more control over their line than other options. It also is considered more reliable. Its speeds are roughly the same or lower than Cable and DSL, reaching up to 1.5Mbitps upload and download. This upload/download isn't amazing, however T1 lines do well for smaller businesses.
Tier 3 is a bigger, faster, more expensive version of T1. It can get up to 44Mbitps upload and download speeds. It is great for medium/large businesses, as it provides a good deal of bandwidth. T2, T4, T5 all exist as well, with the higher numbers being faster, however T1 and T3 are the more common ones.
Optical or fiber optic internet is the up and coming replacement for DSL and Cable. It is already used in some T1 and T3 lines; however it is rare to be seen in houses right now. It has a very high max speed, and the speed can be continually upgraded as time brings better technology without having to change the physical cable. I wrote an article on businesses having their own fiber lines not too long ago.
Satellite internet is as it sounds. It is good for people who travel a lot or live in a very isolated location who are unable to get any of the other “normal” connection types. I can't imagine justifying satellite for a business' main connection, but for single employees to have it, it can sometimes make sense. It tends to be the most expensive type of internet, and it isn’t too fast. However you pay for the convenience and it brings you a lot of it.
Wireless internet is like satellite, however instead of using a satellite orbiting the earth you are using cell phone towers to connect to the internet. This is a little bit faster and cheaper than satellite (generally) however it is also slightly less convenient. It is still slower and more expensive than DSL and Cable. As for convenience, wherever you might get cell phone coverage you get internet, and as I’m sure you know you don’t always get cell phone coverage, but for the most part you will get phone coverage in populated areas. Wireless is often the best options in rural and remote locations for the simple reason that it is often one of the only options. This is another one that I'd suggest businesses stay away from unless it is, for some reason, absolutely necessary.
There are a lot of different types of ways to connect to the internet. From the convenient (satellite, wireless) to the powerful (optical, T3) to the common (DSL, Cable) there is something for everyone. If any of these connections sound like something you might be interested in, feel free to contact us.