A wired broadband connection is the most ideal and reliable internet connection, and during the heightened demand caused by many people working from home it’s understood that many families might not have access to this connection or it could simply be too expensive. Below are four alternatives but as a warning, they come with inconvenient trade-offs.
1. Mobile broadband
The U.S. cellular LTE data download speeds have an average of 14 megabits per second, according to nerdwallet. Mobile internet connections can function as a viable replacement for traditional broadband. Just connect to a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot device with a data-only plan for a relatively low-cost and high-speed internet. Smartphone owners likely already have mobile broadband connection on your cell phone. Just click over to your settings and use it as a hot spot and eliminate the dedication to home internet entirely.
Once smartphone users begin to use personal hot spots, it’s over. It’s best for light internet activities like web browsing, email and social media. To make sure users get the best use make sure you have, reliable LTE service where you use the internet most.
Satellite internet is probably the most common form of wifi used today — even in the most remote locations. There is a high start-up cost associated with the leasing or buying of the necessary equipment like the satellite dish that goes on the top of your roof. It’s possible to also get slower speeds while paying a higher monthly fee. Keep in mind, the signal has to travel 22,000 miles up to a satellite and then back down, typically taking a long time relative to other methods.
3. Fixed wireless
Fixed wireless travels to your home through radio waves. This wireless connection uses an antenna in your home to speak to nearby towers, which then sends your data to a cloud-type network. The costs will likely be higher than a hard-wired connection, and it’s possible to run into problems if you can’t get connected to a tower nearby. There will also be out of pocket cost of the antenna and installation but you could potentially save with access to unlimited data and not having a problem with the high latency associated with satellite.
If none of the above are on the table for you, then Dial-up is your best option. If you have a landline in 2020, you likely have access to dial-up internet. With a maximum bandwidth of 56 kilobits per second, dial-up is much slower than any of the other options above. It will take you roughly 15 minutes to download a 6MB MP3 file over a dial-up connection. It is recommended that 1,000 kilobits per second for most internet activities. This method is feasible for checking emails and basic web browsing. Please note that it ties up your phone line while accessing the internet. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Comcast will offer a 60-day free trial of the service, which costs $9.95 per month through their Internet Essentials Program for low-income families.
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