“Broadband” is a broad term. And what you don’t know can slow you down.
Broadband is a way of connecting to the internet using higher-speed and faster transmission than traditional dial-up access.
Back in the olden days, dial-up internet access was the only way to reach the World Wide Web, but with the rise of social media, video streaming and instant-everything came the desire and demand for something more.
In response to this new era, broadband connectivity was born and internet providers like us can now bring you connection speeds that match your needs. There are six main types of broadband: Fiber Optics, Cable Modem, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), Wireless (not to be confused with WiFi), Satellite and Broadband over Powerlines (BPL).
The latest—and greatest—of the broadband types: Fiber Optics.
Fiber Optics, also known as optical fibers, are ultra-thin strands of glass about the diameter of a human hair. These individual fibers comprise what are called optical cables. Optical cables run underground and directly into your house, resulting in the fastest, most secure, most reliable connection available.
Unlike other wired connections such as copper, whose signal degrades significantly over long distances, Fiber optics signals maintain speed integrity over great distances, supplying you with more of the signal you pay for. And that fiber optic signal can reach speeds up to and sometimes more than 1 Gigabits per second, which is equal to 1,000 Megabits per second.
Cable Modem uses the same cables that bring sound and picture to your TV to bring you higher-speed internet service. Connected by a coaxial cable, the cable modem communicates with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and translates it into something your router can understand.
Cable Modem has a little bit higher speeds than DSL, but it’s typically less reliable. Because you’re in a network loop with your neighbors, you share cable modem bandwidth with others in the area. This means there’s only so much bandwidth available for all in the loop, and their internet usage directly affects yours, which can slow down your connection.
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
DSL is a family of modem technologies that uses existing telephone lines to transmit digital data. Since many customers had phone lines, this internet connection technology became popular early. There are two types of DSLs:
- Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL): ADSL typically provides a faster download speed than upload speed. Typically offered to residential customers who receive lots of data (streaming services for example) but don’t send much.
- Symmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (SDSL): Symmetrical means similar uploading and downloading speeds. Businesses that use a lot of video conferencing and other activities that require high-speed connection often chose SDSL.
The plus side of DSL is that it doesn’t require any new wiring, but it also comes with lower speed limits; you will generally only get up to 100 Mbps. On top of that, because the service is provided by the phone company, you’ll likely be required to purchase their phone service as well.
Wireless broadband connects you to the internet using a wireless radio link between your location and the ISP. Wireless can provide speeds similar to Cable Modem and DSL and allows you to connect more than one computer to the WiFi router. (By the way, don’t confuse Wireless broadband to your home with WiFi, which connects devices within your home.)
Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages with this type of broadband, primarily regarding security and reliability. Your wireless connection is more susceptible to hackers, neighbors and passers-by, potentially giving them access to personal or private information. As for reliability, the strength of any wireless connection is often hindered by the weather, since heavy rainfall, mist, or even heatwaves can absorb some of your signal.
The same satellites orbiting the globe to provide telephone and TV services can also provide broadband internet. To receive data, your ISP will send out a signal to a satellite in space; that signal then comes back down to earth and is captured by your satellite dish. Your dish is connected to your modem, and your modem to your devices. To send out data, the whole process is reversed.
Satellite internet can cover larger geographical areas than other broadband services. Much like other wireless connections though, weather or sunspots can affect connectivity.
Broadband over Powerlines (BPL)
BPL works through the same power lines that carry the electricity that powers your home. Set up initially involves plugging in a BPL modem to any electrical wall socket, which then sends data via power lines to fiber optic cables.
Critics aren’t too fond of the broadband service for a number of reasons, primarily because the cost of the technology, which is called “transformer bypassing” might end up costing more than originally thought. Powerlines also weren’t created to carry data along on top of electrical energy, so BPL has proven vulnerable to heavy energy “leakage”— resulting in a reduction of connection reliability.
Now what you know can speed you up.
Each broadband signal has its perks, but one performs well above the rest. If you’d like to learn more about the difference Fiber Optics provides, please reach out to our Customer Care Representatives at 833.717.4448. We’re always happy to help, and we always strive to do Right By You®.