Over the past 10 years an Internet connection has become just as important as TV, radio and a telephone connection.
When connecting to the Internet there are several access options available.
The best option for you will depend on the device you are using, your location, and the network availability in your area.
Should you use broadband/DSL or Wireless or a mixture for your home/small business/home office internet connection?
When choosing your connection methods you need to be aware of the options. The following methods are commonly used and available:
- Broadband DSL/ADSL
- Broadband Wireless (WI-FI)
- Broadband Cable
- Mobile Broadband -GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications)
Here we will examine these connection methods in detail and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each connection type so that you can choose the best option for you.
A broadband Internet connection provides high speed internet access at transmission rates above 256kbits/sec but typically (UK) above 4Mbits/s (for ADSL).
Broadband connections can be provided by 4 main access mechanisms-
ADSL, cable and WI-FI (wireless) and GSM (mobile phones).
Which one you use depends on:
- Your Requirements
- Your Location
Broadband access can be provided by several access mechanisms:
- DSL/ADSL (digital subscriber line)
- Cable Internet
- Wireless Internet
- GSM (mobile phones)
- Satellite Internet
- Electric power lines- are also being considered for providing broadband internet access.
Although cable and DSL are broadband technologies ADSL is the more common, as it is carried over the standard telephone lines. For home/home office users ADSL is the standard option.
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line)/Broadband comes in two forms:
- Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), – provides different upload and download speeds (most common)
- Symmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (SDSL)- provides the same speed in both directions.
Monthly Cost: Starts at approx. £13-£30 for ADSL per month
Speed: 128Kbps – 20Mbps
Hardware Requirements: ADSL modem (often included). If you want to connect multiple computers: one ADSL router (approx. £50-£200 if note included)
ADSL is suitable for very heavy Internet users and multiple computers (small office or home network). If you regularly download or upload large files like music, video or pictures then this type of connection is the one you need.
Wireless broadband is of interest for mobile users. The wireless technology used is the same as is used in home wireless networking and hence if you have laptop/pda is equipped for connection to a home or office wireless network then it will also work on a public wireless network.
Monthly Cost: Often free and provided bundled by
some ADSL broadband packages
Speed: 1-54 Mbps
Hardware Requirements: Wireless (Wi-FI) equipped laptop/PDA.
Wireless broadband is suitable for mobile users. It has similar speeds to DSL and so is also suitable for very heavy Internet users and multiple computers (small office or home network).
If you regularly download or upload large files like music, video or pictures then this type of connection is the one you need.
Cable connects you to the Internet through a coaxial cable usually using the same line as your TV service. Cable connections offer very high connection speeds, 1 to 4 Mbps, but the connection may be shared with other users. This means that you can experience much slower speeds due to congestion.
Monthly Cost: £14-£50 per month
Speed: 500 Kbps to 2 Mbps
Hardware Requirements: Cable Modem (Usually included). If you have multiple computers then you might need cable router to share connection.
For very heavy Internet users and multiple computers (small office or home network). If you regularly download or upload large files like music, video or pictures then this type of connection is the one you need. You obviously need a cable connection in the first place.
In the developing world were no fixed land line system is available mobile broadband is becoming the predominate method that people use to connect to the Internet.
There are more than 500 million mobile broadband subscribers and that number is growing fast.
In western countries like the UK mobile broadband is usually used by people who travel frequently and is often a secondary access mechanism and not the primary one.
Modern mobile phones in the UK (2012) use the 3G network (3rd generation mobile telecommunications) with speeds of several Mbit/s.
Which although much faster than the earlier 2G networks it is still much slower than typical ADSL Broadband which most home users/businesses use.
There are two main mechanism used. One uses a Internet
capable mobile phone like the iphone the other uses a USB dongle (3G modem) and a laptop.
Monthly Cost: Varies considerably pay as you options are
Speed: .6 Kbps to 7.2 Mbps
Hardware Requirements: 3G capable Mobile Phone, or USB dongle and package
4G Broadband – This is currently in the initial phases of being rolled out in the UK. It uses HSPA+ access mechanism with speeds of upto 168 Mbit/s in the downlink and 22 Mbit/s in the uplink.
Capability is already built into Google Nexus 7 (mobile data model) and Nexus 4 mobile phone.
Many broadband sites offer a speed testing facility were you can test your Internet speed.
It should be noted that regardless of how fast your connection speed is you will always be restricted by the overall speed on the Internet.
Monthly Cost: Varies from 1p per minute to £13 per month (unlimited access)
Speed: Up to 56Kbps
Hardware Requirements: 56k modem included in most modern PCs (approx. £25-£50 )
Basic Internet browsing and email. Not suitable if regularly downloading or uploading large files like music, video or pictures.
With the rapid adoption of ADSL dial up access is often only used as a secondary/ backup Internet access method for mobile users.
You should be vary wary of this connection type due to
Rogue Internet Dialler software.
Similar to dial-up, ISDN establishes a connection to your service provider when you access the Internet. However, ISDN circuits are 64-128K and fully digital.
ISDN is not easy to install and troubleshoot and requires you to have an ISDN box installed by your telephone company.
It is frequently used by small businesses as in addition to the ISDN
line you can also use a normal telephone line at the same time . This means you can access the Internet as well as talking on the telephone.
Monthly Cost: As Analogue dial up
Speed: 64Kbps – 128Kbps
Hardware Requirements: ISDN card (£30-£60) or router ( £200-£300)
Basic Internet browsing and email and connection sharing. Not suitable if regularly downloading or uploading very large files like music, video or pictures. You should be vary wary of this connection type due to Rogue Internet Dialler software.
Related Articles and Resources