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When you first decide to upgrade from your slow dial-up to the newer and much faster high speed internet there is often a lot of confusion. This is because there are actually several different types of high speed internet available in most places in the country, with newer generations of service constantly evolving.
All types of fast connections, also known as broadband, are going to ensure that you have download speeds of between 200 kilobits per second (kbps) up to a whopping 15 Mbps with some of the newer types of services. Most providers offer a top end download speed of 6 Mbps unless you are getting a premium package service. However, unless you are a high level gamer or do a lot of downloading or uploading that speed is more than fast enough to have almost instantaneous page loading and lightening fast download speeds. Upload speeds vary from option to option and package to package, with upload typically slower than download.
One of the more common options for many businesses and personal computer users is DSL. DSL actually stands for Digital Subscriber Line and uses the existing phone lines that are already in place. Phone lines can also be added specifically for DSL service however this is less common. Often the service is packaged with your phone, and even cell phone packages, to offer a lower overall cost option for all services.
Since data is sent along the phone lines there are several factors that can affect your data transfer speeds. The biggest issue is the number of users on each branch of the service line as well as the distance from the hub of the service provided to the residence or business. Most residential DSL lines offer a fast download speed with lower upload speed since consumers are typically surfing and downloading rather than uploading. There are higher speed upload options for businesses, especially those offering streaming videos for conferences or online meetings. These services are priced differently than general residential DSL packages.
Cable internet services are often packaged with TV services and even phone services. Similar to DSL, cable internet is sent over the coaxial cable that provides data to your television. There is an additional piece of hardware, a cable modem that is added between your coaxial cable and the computer to translate the data to a system language your computer can manage. Most services offer the same general speeds as DSL, with the same general limitations. Like other service providers cable high speed internet speeds are usually not guaranteed since high volume of traffic can slow down the network.
Fiber Optics is one of the newest and fastest types of high speed internet available. It is typically offered by phone companies in urban areas and has not yet reached many of the smaller centers and rural areas. Fiber optics requires a special cable that is filled with small glass lines that are about the diameter of a human hair. These glass lines allow data to transfer over much longer distances without any loss or reduce in speed seen in traditional types of copper phone wires.
Traditional phone lines are being converted to fiber optics lines throughout the country and have been since the year 2000. As more phone companies make the transition, high speed internet through fiber optic options is becoming more cost effective as well as much more available. Since there is less loss of data and data slow down with long distance transmissions it is ideal for areas where other types of high speed services are not practical or even possible.