What Is Broadband Internet?

Broadband is the most common form of internet access. The word “broadband” refers to wide-bandwidth data transmission, which is a fancy way of saying your internet is always connected and doesn’t depend on a phone line connection.

There are four main types of broadband internet:

  • DSL
  • Fiber-optic
  • Cable
  • Satellite

The nice thing all broadband connections have in common? You don’t hear any dialing noises when you try to make a phone call. (Wait, it’s still 1998, right?)

Let’s take a look at the different kinds of broadband internet you can use in your home.

DSL internet

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) uses phone lines to get you internet access. Thankfully, a DSL connection doesn’t mess with your home phone lines, either.

As far as speeds go, DSL lags a little behind more modern broad internet connections but is generally cheaper. Your internet speed will depend on which DSL provider you go with. You can still find DSL providers that get you upwards of 115 Mbps.

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Need more speed?
If you want a faster broadband connection, consider getting a fiber-optic connection or cable internet.

Fiber-optic internet

Fiber-optic internet provides you access through—you guessed it—fiber-optic lines. These tiny glass-and-plastic lines transmit information and bring the internet to your home.

The most important thing to know about fiber-optic internet is that it’s the best option for broadband internet. The biggest downside is that it’s not available everywhere just yet. But if you’re fortunate enough to have it in your area, you can get download speeds up to 900 Mbps.

If you have fiber available near you, check out your best options for fiber internet providers.

Cable internet

Cable internet works pretty much the same way as your cable TV. Coaxial cables connect from your house to your neighborhood node, and eventually to your service provider. But this time, instead of getting Property Brothers, you get internet data.

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Faster speeds will cost you.
Cable internet generally isn’t as quick as fiber-optic internet, but you can still get download speeds above 1000 Mbps if you’re willing to pay the price.

The speed you enjoy with cable internet will largely depend on the cable internet provider you choose, the plan you sign up for, and your neighborhood’s bandwidth. But cable internet is one of the more reliable broadband options available.

Satellite internet

About 23,000 miles above your head right now, there’s a satellite floating around somewhere that can hook you up to the internet.

Unlike fiber or cable, with satellite internet, it doesn’t really matter where you live. So for those of you living in rural communities, satellite internet might be your best option.

You don’t have tons of options when it comes to satellite internet, but you can still get up to 100 Mbps of download speed (though it will likely end up being less than that).

Satellite internet is a noticeable step below other broadband internet options, but if you don’t have other kinds of access, it might be your only option. After all, are you just going to not have the internet in your life? Forget about it.

Find the fastest internet providers near you.

Now that you know, here are your next steps.

Looking for a fast connection? Check out the fastest internet providers.


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