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High Speed Providers - Selecting High Speed Internet Providers

lines cable digital subscriber

For many, determining which high speed internet provider to use is as easy as picking up a phone book. They use the provider who bundles their cable or telephone service and are done with it. This may be the easiest, but is not always the best way to select high speed providers. There are some features the different types of high speed internet provide that are worth considering before making a snap decision.

It would be nice to be able to consider the features one at a time, but regretfully not all options are available in all locations. One must look at which sorts of companies provide local service. For example, a metropolitan area may have the choices of digital subscriber lines, cable service, satellite connectivity or fiber optic lines. Rural areas will be more limited. For example, some satellite high speed providers rely upon clear south facing skies. A house with large trees to the south may find connectivity to satellites difficult. Also, not all cable companies provide lines more than thirty or forty miles from their hubs. Finally, phone companies need to consider the communication traffic in areas with limited lines.

Should one have all four options available, compare the relative download speeds. The first option is digital subscriber lines. Most adults remember the first internet connections required external modems and reliable dial up phone lines. Those seldom exceeded a download speed of 216 kilobytes per second regardless of manufacturer promises. The modems may have been capable but the phone line was not. Because of this limitation, phone companies introduced digital subscriber lines. Instead of having to choose between using the land line and being on line, homeowners could now do both simultaneously. Digital subscriber lines are still on average the slowest option for high speed internet with a minimum speed of around 700 kilobytes per second. They have improved to a maximum of 7.1 millibytes per second, however, which makes them viable if not always reliable avenues to stream audio or video.

The second option is to bundle high speed internet with one’s cable provider. The download speed capacity of a cable connection runs between four and 50 millibytes per second with the average top speed is closer to 20 millibytes per second. Comparable to the higher end of digital subscriber lines, cable internet can be more reliable because even the slowest speed is fast enough for most video files to play without extensive buffering. Some cable companies have laid their lines underground to improve reliability. After all, squirrels and wind cannot damage lines covered by several feet of earth.

Satellite high speed providers have greater flexibility and greater restrictions. They tend to cost less after initial set up since they have no lines to maintain. All one needs is a dish and an open sky. The speeds are comparable to cable and digital subscriber lines, but they are less reliable since signals are carried over the air and weather events can disrupt service. For example, a good wind storm may damage the dish, or intense cloud cover can reduce signal strength. However, a well placed dish that is capable of being turned to find new signals can be successful in outlying areas.

The most recent improvement high speed providers have introduced is fiber optic technology. These lines are made of thin filaments of glass that transmit signals much in the same way as electrical lines do. Since the digital impulses are transmitted using lasers, they travel at the speed of light. The only limitation is the translation at each end from analog to digital or from light to electrical impulses that computers understand. Fiber optic high speed internet providers can guarantee download speeds from 10 to 50 millibytes per second. Obviously fast enough for almost any real-time interaction, this technology is more expensive to supply and is limited in geographic availability.

When looking at high speed providers, one must by necessity be limited to the technologies the providers have available for purchase. Within those limitations and the limitations of one’s budget, one should look for an internet service that is reliable, consistent and fast. Modern communication technology such as video streaming and social networking demand it.

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