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Article Title:
How to Choose the Best Broadband Internet Access Option

Article Description:
Not so many years ago, accessing the Internet was a 'one size 
fits all' technology.  Most of us didn't mind the slow speeds,
because we realized that the slow speeds we endured were shared 
by everyone else.  The notion of Internet 'speed envy' had yet 
to emerge.

Additional Article Information:
1192 Words; formatted to 65 Characters per Line
Distribution Date and Time: Thu Feb 23 18:35:08 EST 2006

Written By:     Jacob Minett
Copyright:      2006
Contact Email:  mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]

Article URL: 

For more free-reprint articles by this Author, please visit:


How to Choose the Best Broadband Internet Access Option
Copyright © 2006 Jacob Minett
WildBlue Satellite

Not so many years ago, accessing the Internet was a 'one size 
fits all' technology.  When you wanted to surf the web, send and 
receive emails, post files to a web site, or just play around on 
AOL, you accessed it all through your telephone line using a 
modem and a standard dial-up account.  Most of us didn't mind 
because we realized that the slow speeds we endured were shared 
by everyone else.  The notion of Internet 'speed envy' had yet 
to emerge.

Well, those days are long gone!  Nowadays, in ever-increasing 
numbers, people are dumping their old dial-up modems and those 
slow connections for a much faster Internet experience through 
DSL, cable, and satellite technologies.  In 2002, only 21% of 
Internet users had broadband connections at home.  As of late 
2005, that number had risen to 53% [Source:  Pew Internet & 
American Life Project].

For the remaining 47% still using dial-up access, it's often 
because they live where DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) and cable 
technologies are not available.  Yes, there are still lots of 
rural areas that do not have access to either.  Among those who 
do have access to broadband connections, it is most often older 
and poorer Americans who choose to keep dial-up access.

Which Internet Access Option is Best for You?

You may be wondering which broadband solution is the best 
option. While much depends on what's available in your area, 
for many users it comes down to a personal choice, centered 
on convenience, speed, and cost.  Let's examine the various 
technologies and the relative advantages of each.

Cable Internet Access

Using your home's existing cable television lines, you can get 
Internet access included for an additional fee.  Expect a large 
speed increase versus dial-up access.  In fact, in many cases 
cable Internet access is the fastest alternative.  Installation 
is usually completed quickly with just one visit from your cable 
company's technicians.  You will also need a cable modem 
(supplied by the cable company in virtually every instance, 
but can be purchased separately as well).

Clearly, the biggest advantage of going with cable access is 
speed.  All things being equal, it is the fastest of the three 
broadband alternatives, with a top speed of 10 Mbps (Megabits per 
second).  Having said that, cable speeds can be substantially 
reduced if you share a local network with a lot of other 
subscribers.  People living in densely packed areas, or locations 
where the cable company has a lot of users on the same network, 
will only realize a fraction of that top speed.  It's a good idea 
to call your cable provider and ask some pointed questions about 
these issues before you order.  Better yet, ask neighbors who 
have cable Internet what kind of speed they get.

DSL Internet Access

Digital Subscriber Line access utilizes your existing telephone 
line in an innovative way to greatly increase your Internet 
speeds.  While cable is usually faster, DSL is substantially 
speedier than traditional dial-up access and offers a much-
improved experience for a modest increase in cost.  Installation 
is quick, usually only requiring a simple change at your home's 
phone box outside of the house by a phone company technician. 
You will need a DSL modem, which is included at no extra charge 
by most providers when you sign an extended service contract.  

If you live where DSL is not currently available, be patient. 
Major providers like Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T are spreading 
their coverage areas quickly.  Even many rural areas can expect 
to have DSL access in the coming months.

The two big advantages of choosing DSL are cost and speed.  
You will only need to get the modem and follow some simple 
instructions to configure it.  If you agree to a one-year 
contract with your phone service provider (most major carriers), 
the modem will cost you nothing.  And the service itself is 
generally in the $15-$40 per month range, making it a good 

Speed is a bit trickier with DSL.  It is slower than cable (top 
speed is about 6 Mbps), and the major providers offer different 
packages that limit speeds based on the price you pay per month. 
To further muddy the waters, DSL is what's known as a 'distance 
limited' technology.  This means that how far you live from the 
nearest telephone company switching station determines your 
actual speed.  Those living within a few yards will experience 
the highest speeds, while those at the other end of your street 
or block may only get half that speed.  As with cable, call your 
local phone provider and ask questions about the various services 
and what kind of actual speed you can expect based on your exact 
physical location in relation to the switching station for your 
street or neighborhood.  If you have a next-door neighbor with 
DSL, ask what his or her experience has been, as yours will 
probably be very similar.

Satellite Internet Access

Satellite Internet access uses a small mounted dish and group of 
electronics to send and receive data through satellites orbiting 
the Earth over the equator.  Users must have a clear view 
of the Southern sky (in the U.S.) from the face of the dish, 
unobstructed by trees, buildings, and other obstacles.  Coaxial 
cabling connects the outdoor equipment to indoor send-and-receive 
equipment that then connects to your computer through a standard 
USB connector or network card.

The major advantage with satellite Internet access is faster 
connection speeds for people who live where cable and DSL are not 
available.  Users can expect to download data at a rate that is 
about 10 to 30 times faster than dial-up access.  While satellite 
Internet connections are significantly faster than dial-ups, they 
are slower than cable and DSL, and should not be the first choice 
for those who do have cable or DSL available to them.  Satellite 
access is also more expensive than DSL or cable and can suffer 
outages when the weather turns ugly.  Clearly, the other two are 
better options unless you live where they are not available.

The Bottom Line

Overall, cable and DSL are terrific broadband Internet access 
solutions for the majority of people who live in urban or 
suburban locations.  Satellite access adds a much-needed 
alternative for folks living in rural areas, completing the 
coverage area for the vast majority of America and Canada.  While 
proponents of both cable and DSL have legitimate arguments in 
favor of their services, deciding between them should be made on 
an individual basis, determined by the actual speeds and costs 
for each in your location.  

If speed is your top priority and you live where there are not 
a lot of other users sharing the local cable network, go with 
cable (especially if your neighbors report high speeds and 
good service).  If not, look into DSL.  If cost is your main 
consideration and speed isn't as important, a lower-end DSL 
service will probably be a better fit, as long as you don't live 
too far from the nearest telephone switching station.  Finally, 
if you live in a rural area, satellite Internet access may be 
right up your alley, especially if you long for faster downloads 
and web site surfing.

If you do live in a rural area where cable or DSL are not 
an option then your best bet would be to go with the new 
<a href="";>WildBlue Satellite</a> System. My name is 
Jacob Minett, and 
my website is



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