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Internet Services Galore: What Differentiates One From Another?

written by: KennethSleight•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 6/1/2011

There isn’t anyone who hasn’t heard of the Internet, but certainly aren’t aware of many forms of Internet connections available. Why there are so many different forms of Internet services? Here I will explain how these services differ from each other and what they offer.

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    Cable Internet


    Cable is a form of broadband Internet which offers very high speed data rates. Cable Internet downstream speed varies between 1 and 30 Mb/sec and between 128 Kbps and 768 Kbps for upstream.

    While Cable Internet typically runs faster than DSL, it often gives reduced speed for some technical reasons. One of the main reasons is that your neighborhood accesses the Internet simultaneously – hence, sharing your bandwidth.

    Another form of Cable Internet services called “Symmetric Cable” provides equal bandwidth for both uploading and downloading, but due to the fact that downloading is the main requirement of majority of the users, they do not prefer this form of Cable Internet service.

    With cable modem, it is very convenient for customers that they can get all - TV, Telephone and Internet - from a single provider and get a combined bill for all services (unless more than one provider are used for different services).

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    DSL - Digital Subscrber Line

    DSL stands for “Digital Subscriber Line.” It is an always-on connected Internet, which does not require you to dial into the Internet Service Provider.

    In DSL connections, the download speed is relatively less than upload speed. However the good thing is that your connection is not shared with the neighborhood – giving you maximum speed at all times.

    Giving many PCs access to the Internet with one DSL connection is practical. Multiple Computers whether in home or office can easily be given Internet access with just a single DSL connection.

    The downstream rate you can get often varies from 1 to 9 Mb/s. Similarly, the upstream rate also varies between 15 and 640 kB/s.

    New technologies are coming to markets and the speed of DSL Internet is also increasing as service providers upgrade their network equipment with the latest technology.

    DSL connects you to Internet through a regular telephone line and brings you an extra benefit of using the telephone on the same line while using the Internet connection.

    Customers can stay logged onto the Internet for indefinite periods if they want, but this creates a minor security risk because the PC will use the same IP address for a long time – giving hackers a higher chance to attack your PC! However, DSL provides overall reasonably safe Internet access.

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    ADSL - Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line

    ADSL or “Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line,” although much faster than DSL, can generally be used only over short distances - usually within 4 kilometers. The user must live within a certain distance of the nearest telephone exchange to receive the best speeds.

    ADSL connections, unlike DSL, offer higher download speeds than upload speeds.

    The maximum speed for ADSL connections varies between 256 kB/s and 8 Mb/sec for downloading and around 1 Mbit/sec for uploading.

    ADSL, like DSL, operates over a normal telephone line. Voice calls can still be made even when internet is in use.

    ADSL often presents some technical problems during its setup. Therefore the installation of appropriate frequency filters at the customer's premises is necessary to avoid possible interferences with the voice service.

    ADSL2 and ADSL2+ are starting soon. ADSL2 will provide download speeds of up to 12 Mbps, while ADSL2+ will offer twice of this.

    Because ADSL requires its users to be located within 4 kilometer of its base, it has comparatively fewer users than of any other form of high-speed Internet.

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    SDSL - Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line

    SDSL is an acronym for Symmetric Digital Subscriber’s Line.

    Basically, SDSL is similar to DSL with the only exception being the bandwidth for up and downstream. Unlike, DSL that has less download speed than upload, SDSL is symmetric – that means you can get equal bandwidth for both up and down streams.

    Although a fast form of Internet that gives up to 1.5 MBit/Sec rate, speeds will still vary depending on your distance from the service provider.

    SDSL best suits business users because it provides them a consistent high-speed Internet that allows them to transfer files to vendors, customers, different offices, etc.

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    WiMax is acronym for “Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access.” It is a technology designed to deliver cost-effective and high-speed Internet over long distances without using wires.

    This technology provides up to 72 Mb/s symmetric speeds to the radius of up to 30 miles.

    To receive Internet using WiMax, two forms of equipment (signal receivers) are available – “Indoor” and “Outdoor.” Indoor devices are obviously convenient since these are very small in size, but the subscriber must be significantly closer to a WiMax base in order to avoid any radio losses and possible temporary disconnections.

    WiMax Internet is connected at all times - there is no need to dial into the service provider.

    WiMax may also be useful for providing the Internet connection for Wi-Fi hotspots. A hotspot is a place (e.g. a café, airport, hotel, etc) where an Internet connection is wirelessly available. The general public can freely use the Internet by connecting their PCs to these hotspots. There many websites containing list of hotspots in different regions. This is one of many Hotspot finding websites I like.

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    Dial-Up Internet

    While surfing the Internet, did you ever feel going for a nap while your webpage is loading? If yes, then certainly, you were using dial-up internet. Dial-up Internet Access allows access to Internet via regular telephone lines. The main two disadvantages it bring are that it runs very slowly and also that voice calls cannot either be made or received whilst you are online.

    A Computer uses a modem to connect to the Internet. Although, dial-up Internet service offers data transfer speed with maximum of 56 kB/second, users usually get around 40 Kbit/second due to phone line noise. Some modem standards such as V.42, V.42bis and V.44 allow even faster transfer rate (over 150 kB/second) by allowing the modem to receive uncompressed data. Some dial-up ISPs implement acceleration servers to give a little boost to the transfer rate. They do it with “compression,” “filtering,” or “caching.”

    Despite all these methods, dial-up connection is not good at all for playing audio or video streams from internet.Dial-up Internet, because of its slow speed and because of the much faster connections that have been introduced, is the cheapest way to connect to the internet.

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    There are various forms of Internet connections as seen above. The proliferation of ISPs (Internet Service providers) has made it a bit difficult for us to decide which connection might be the best for us in terms of both the cost and speed.

    Many people are interested in buying cheap internet service like dial-up Internet but computer geeks only go for rocket fast Internet such as WiMax, DSL, etc, which helps them do more work in a shorter time.