Families use the internet to access personal email and surf social networking websites. Students at colleges and universities go onto the World Wide Web to register for courses and research information for classes. Employees at many companies stay in touch with clients, customers and coworkers via meetings and conference calls conducted over the internet. In order for people to use the internet, they must have a way to access it.
Today, companies known as internet service providers (ISP’s) most commonly provide this access in the form of broadband internet service.
How is broadband different from the traditional dial-up service?
In terms of speed, broadband is superior to dial-up service because it provides a higher speed of data transmission. This allows more content to be transmitted in a shorter amount of time. Broadband also allows users to access high quality internet services such as VoIP (internet phone), streaming music and videos, internet gaming, and other interactive services. Dial-up service is considered by most to be technically obsolete and may not be able to handle the large amounts of data and speed that these services require.
This can result in slow movement, “freezing” of the application being run, and a computer can even crash or malfunction due to the stress carried by the connection. Broadband connections also maintain a constant connection to the internet without blocking phone lines, which means that a user can make a phone call with the line while still surfing the internet. Dial-up connections usually block phone lines or disconnect when a phone call is received.
Types of Broadband Connections
o DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) – transmission technology that uses a wireline to transmit data quickly through traditional copper telephone lines that are already being used at homes and businesses. DSL access is available in most areas that are served by a telephone company facility but some rural and newly-developed areas aren’t accessible by local companies and have to use other means to access the internet.
o Cable – cable modems allow cable companies to deliver broadband internet service through the same coaxial cables that provide cable television to televisions. The modems connect to the cable line on one end while the other side connects to the computer. The speed is comparable to that of a DSL connection and the user can still watch cable TV while using the internet.
o Fiber (fiber optic) – converts electrical data signals to light and sends it through transparent glass fibers that are about the size of a human hair. The speed varies but it can be very fast and can provide VoIP and video services simultaneously. Fiber optic technology is fairly new, and most companies plan to expand their networks in order to offer bundled services to consumers.
o Wireless – uses a radio link to connect users to the internet, and service can be fixed to a location or used as a mobile connection with laptop computers and cell phones. People who require service in rural areas often use wireless internet service to access the internet. Wireless connections are widely available in public settings such as airports, bookstores, restaurants and parks. One popular form of a wireless connection is wireless fidelity, or “Wi-Fi.”