Types of Internet
A Quick Reference
As technology grows, so does our need
for bigger, better and faster. Over the years, the way content is
presented via the Web has changed drastically. Ten years ago being able
to center bold, colored text was something to admire, while today Flash,
animations, online gaming, database-driven Web sites, e-commerce and virtual offices to name but a few are becoming standards.
The need for speed has changed the options available to consumers and
businesses alike in terms of how and how fast we can connect to the
While technology changes at a rapid pace, so do Internet connections. The connection speeds listed below represent a snapshot of general average to maximum
speeds at the time of publication. This is no doubt will
change over time and Internet connection speeds also vary between
Analog (up to 56k)
Also called dial-up access,
it is both economical and slow. Using a
modem connected to your PC, users connect to the Internet when the computer
dials a phone number (which is provided by your ISP) and connects to the
network. Dial-up is an analog connection because data is sent over an analog,
public telephone network. The modem converts received analog data to digital and vise
versa. Because dial-up access uses normal telephone lines the quality of
the connection is not always good and data rates are limited.
Integrated services digital network (ISDN) is an international
communications standard for sending voice, video, and data over digital
telephone lines or normal telephone wires.
Broadband ISDN is similar
in function to ISDN but it transfers data over fiber optic
telephone lines, not normal telephone wires.
SONET is the
backbone of B-ISDN. Broadband ISDN has not
been widely implemented.
DSL is also called an always on connection because it uses existing
2-wire copper telephone line connected to the premise and will not tie up
your phone as a dial-up connection does. There is no need to dial-in to your
ISP as DSL is always on. The two main categories of DSL for home subscribers
are called ADSL and SDSL.
ADSL is the most commonly deployed types of DSL in North America. Short
for asymmetric digital subscriber line ADSL supports data rates of from
1.5 to 9 Mbps when receiving data (known as the downstream rate) and
from 16 to 640 Kbps when sending data (known as the upstream rate). ADSL
requires a special ADSL modem.
SDSL is still more common in Europe. Short for symmetric digital
subscriber line, a technology that allows more data to be sent over
existing copper telephone lines (POTS). SDSL supports data rates up to 3
Mbps. SDSL works by sending digital pulses in the high-frequency area of
telephone wires and can not operate simultaneously with voice
connections over the same wires. SDSL requires a special SDSL modem.
SDSL is called symmetric because it supports the same data rates for
upstream and downstream traffic.
Very High DSL (VDSL) is a DSL technology that offers fast data rates
over relatively short distances the shorter the distance, the faster
the connection rate.
Through the use of a
cable modem you can have a broadband Internet
connection that is designed to operate over cable TV lines. Cable Internet
works by using TV channel space for data transmission, with certain channels
used for downstream transmission, and other channels for upstream
transmission. Because the
coaxial cable used by cable TV provides much
greater bandwidth than telephone lines, a cable modem can be used to achieve
extremely fast access.
Wireless Internet Connections
Internet, or wireless
one of the newest Internet connection types. Instead of using telephone or
cable networks for your Internet connection, you use
radio frequency bands.
Wireless Internet provides an always-on connection which can be accessed
from anywhere as long as you geographically within a network coverage
area. Wireless access is still considered to be relatively new, and it may
be difficult to find a wireless service provider in some areas. It is
typically more expensive and mainly available in metropolitan areas.
T-1 lines are a popular
option for businesses connecting to the Internet and for Internet Service
Providers (ISPs) connecting to the Internet backbone. It is a dedicated
phone connection supporting data rates of 1.544Mbps. A T-1 line
actually consists of 24 individual channels, each of which supports 64Kbits
per second. Each 64Kbit/second channel can be configured to carry voice or
data traffic. Most telephone companies allow you to buy just one or some of
these individual channels. This is known as as
fractional T-1 access.
A bonded T-1 is two or more T-1 lines that have been joined (bonded)
together to increase bandwidth. Where a single T-1 provides
approximately 1.5Mbps, two bonded T1s provide 3Mbps or 46 channels for
voice or data. Two bonded T-1s allow you to use the full bandwidth of
3Mbps where two individual T-1s can still only use a maximum of 1.5Mbps
at one time. To be bonded the T-1 must run into the same router at the
end, meaning they must run to the same ISP.
Lines support speeds of 1.544 Mbps
Fractional T-1 speeds are 64 Kbps per channel (up to 1.544 Mbps),
depending on number of leased channels.
Typical Bonded T-1 (two bonded T-1 lines) speed is around 3 Mbps.
T-3 lines are dedicated phone connections supporting data rates of about 43 to 45 Mbps.
It too is a popular
option. A T-3 line actually consists of 672 individual channels, each of
which supports 64 Kbps. T-3 lines are used mainly by Internet Service
Providers (ISPs) connecting to the Internet backbone and for the backbone
Internet over Satellite
(IoS) allows a user to access the Internet via a satellite that orbits the
earth. A satellite is placed at a static point above the earth's surface, in
a fixed position. Because of the enormous distances signals must travel from
the earth up to the satellite and back again, IoS is slightly slower than
high-speed terrestrial connections over copper or fiber optic cables.
Vangie 'Aurora' Beal
Last updated: April 07, 2006
Webopedia Quick reference: Dial-Up Modem Standards
The CCITT, an international committee that specifies the way modems and fax
machines transmit information to ensure compatibility among modems, has
classified dial-up modems according to the following modulation standards.
Webopedia: "Did You Know... Cable vs. DSL"
Both DSL and cable modems are common home networking broadband connection
technologies . but which option is better?
Founded in April, 1999 by Ted Stevenson as part of internet.com's xSP Channel,
ISP-Planet was designed from the start to address the concerns of Internet
Service Providers. ISP-Planet covers the main areas of interest for Internet
Service Providers such as equipment, perspectives, Fixed wireless, industry news
& trends, market research, news, and more.
802.11 news, commentary and information.
Search this directory for Wi-Fi hotspots in your
Good resource for information on sharing a cable modem connection with multiple
computers. Contains clear, easy-to-follow instructions for both the PC and Mac,
as well as other related resources.
A listing of Satellite Internet Services available worldwide.
Satellite Internet Operate?
Satellite Internet access may be worth considering. It's ideal for rural
Internet users who want broadband access. Satellite Internet does not
use telephone lines or cable systems, but instead uses a satellite dish
for two-way (upload and download) data communications.
CNET Internet Services
This new tool lets you compare the performance of the most common Internet
service providers with lists of average speeds ranging from Dial-up to all
Broadband types. You can choose up to five ISPs and click the "Compare" button;
from there, you can view average connection speeds over a week or a month, sort
and filter the results and chart performance using side-by-side comparisons or
create a real-time snapshot.