There are many different ways to connect to the Internet. One of the most common ways is via a dial-up connection. With a dial-up connection, the Internet user can connect to the Internet via his or telephone line and an Internet service provider. This method of connecting to the Internet is generally considered the cheapest, but it is also provides the user with the slowest overall connection speeds. However, it may suit the purposes of the occasional Internet user without a need for a fast or consistent connection.
Broadband connections offer another way to connect to the Internet. In this category are cable and DSL connections. With a cable connection, the user must subscribe to a cable-television/Internet service. These connections are typically very fast, offering speeds upwards of 70 times faster than dial-up connections. They also allow the user to stay connected to the Internet at all times; the user need only open a browser window to access the Internet, as there is no log-on process to complete.
Like cable Internet service, DSL offers much faster speeds than those available with dial-up modems. However, there is a wide range of speeds available from different providers, generally going up to 3 Mbps (3000 Kbps). With DSL, normal telephone wires are used to combine usually separate voice and data lines, allowing users to connect to the Internet and talk on the phone via the same telephone line. Further, users needn’t hang up with callers to access the Internet, as phone calls and web surfing can occur at the same time.
Satellite Internet service is another form of high-speed Internet connection. It employs telecommunications satellites to allow users to connect to the Internet. Typically, such connections are most popular in areas in which cable and DSL connections are either unavailable or unreliable. However, satellite connections are usually slower than cable and DSL connections. Also, they often experience high network latency because of delays in data transmission, and this can lead to a rather lethargic performance, especially when it comes to gaming and downloading.
In addition to broadband and dial-up services, web users are now able to connect to the Internet wirelessly, accessing the web without wires or cables of any type. Wireless technology allows users to have mobile connections, accessing the web (with some limitations) where and when they need to. This can be accomplished via public Wi-Fi networks, cellular services, and Wimax — a somewhat newer type of wireless service. These technologies vary in terms of connectivity, reliability, and cost, but they all allow users to connect whether they are at home, school, work, or on the road.