[Guest Post by Carmen]
Taking the time to choose a good internet provider can often save you a lot of time and frustration in your internet travels. Many providers take steps to appear as the best option to potential customers, such as aggressive marketing, “one time” offers that are often too good to be true, and social engineering. Knowing the common terminology and spending time going over potential options can help you make a much more informed decision before signing up with an ISP (internet service provider).
Before I can go into the details of negotiating tips and telltale signs of questionable practices, going over the types of Internet connections (the technology that your internet provider uses to deliver service to your house) is vital. In most countries, three prominent technologies are usually used by providers to deliver an internet connection to your home or office.
A digital subscriber line (DSL) is one of the most common types of connection worldwide. DSL is usually offered by the same company which offers landline telephone service in your area; however, other secondary companies may offer DSL service as well. Under the right conditions, DSL can reach fairly high speeds (50 Mbps+); however, speeds may vary depending on distance from the provider’s node (where the internet is converted to a signal that is capable of reaching your home). DSL providers often advertise speeds higher than what you are capable of actually receiving. The best way to know if you are truly able to get the maximum speeds would be to ask neighbours.
Cable internet comes in at a close second to DSL, in terms of availability. Cable internet is usually offered by your local cable television company and ran over the same infrastructure as cable TV. This type of connection can reach very high speeds (100+ Mbps); however, the speeds offered by cable internet providers can vary based on the standard used (DOCSIS 3 is the latest cable internet standard, offering theoretical speeds of 300+ Mbps) or back end network capacity. With cable internet, reaching the maximum speeds is usually possible at least at some points in the day. Unlike DSL, network congestion can be a problem with cable. As providers upgrade their networks to meet the demand, this is less of a problem.
Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) is another viable option and alternative to the two other major options. FTTH uses light over a glass wire to transmit internet. Once reaching the home, there is equipment to convert that fiber signal in something that your devices can understand. With current technology, fiber can reach the highest speeds of all the major methods listed above (1000+ Mbps). Fiber internet can often be expensive however, this is not always the case.
These are the three major technologies currently used for internet service worldwide however there are many other technologies available such as Satellite and Antenna (3G) internet that are in use as well.