Compare types of internet connections
Discover which internet connection is right for you.
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What is internet access?
The phrase “internet access” indicates the ability to establish an internet connection using a computer, smartphone or another internet-connected device. You can buy internet access from an internet service provider near you, like AT&T, Cox, Spectrum or Xfinity. Learn more about the providers in your area and the types of internet connections they offer with Allconnect®.
Types of internet connections
Before you pick your internet service provider, learn about the different internet connection types and which browsing habits they best serve. Based on your internet usage, you’ll find that certain types of internet connections are better suited for the activities you enjoy.
- Cable: Best for moderate users who enjoy web browsing, streaming movies and music, gaming and video chats. Largest providers include Spectrum and Xfinity, despite widespread availability.
- Dial-up: Best for occasional to light usage, such as budget-friendly users who enjoy casually browsing and checking email, social media and news updates. The largest provider is AOL.
- DSL: Best for moderate users who enjoy streaming, browsing and gaming. Largest providers include AT&T and CenturyLink.
- Fiber-optic: Best for avid users who enjoy streaming, gaming, video chats and downloading large files on the fastest speeds available. The largest provider is Verizon Fios.
- Satellite: Best for light to moderate internet users who enjoy streaming music and movies. Largest providers include HughesNet and Viasat, formerly Exede.
Many internet connection types offer a range of internet speeds, so in some regions, shoppers can get similar speeds from a variety of providers. In other areas, one type of internet connection may be distinctly slower or faster than another type.
Your choice of internet service provider also affects what speeds you can get. For instance, some DSL internet providers offer speeds up to 15 Mbps while other DSL providers offer speeds up to 140 Mbps. Call for more information on the speeds and providers that are available in your area
What type of internet connection do you need for your home?
Depending on your browsing habits, a certain type of internet connection may work best for the needs of you and your family. Keep in mind that certain types of internet connections may or may not be available where you live and that providers offering the same type of connection may supply drastically different speeds.
Compare cable, DSL, fiber and satellite internet connections
If you’re trying to find the best internet connection for your home, compare DSL vs. cable, cable vs. fiber internet and more based on which types are most compatible with your internet usage.
|Email, web surfing & online shopping on 1-2 devices||5-10 Mbps|
|Email, web surfing & online shopping on 3+ devices||10-25 Mbps|
|Streaming video in standard definition||5-10 Mbps|
|Streaming video in HD||10-30 Mbps|
|Online gaming, 1-2 devices||10-25 Mbps|
|Online gaming, 3+ devices||25+ Mbps|
|Working from home||40+ Mbps|
How we determined the suggested internet connection types
The chart above is based on minimum required internet connection speeds, service reliability during peak usage, latency and upload speeds. For instance, satellite internet provides speeds adequate for gaming, but has high latency, which often prevents a consistent gaming experience.
Additionally, cable internet and fiber connections can handle most online activities. However, satellite or DSL internet may be higher value options if you mainly use the internet to occasionally browse or stream.
The best internet for your home varies by how many connected devices are in use in your household, your online activities and the reliability of your provider
Frequently asked questions about internet connection types
Cable internet and fiber internet are both reliable internet connections, but fiber has a slight edge. Fiber internet tends to give the lowest latency (delay in data communication) and is less likely to get clogged up by other internet users than cable internet. According to a 2018 FCC report, Optimum, Spectrum and Verizon Fios customers consistently experienced speeds that were at least 95% of what was originally advertised.
An internet provider with a large number of Wi-Fi hotspots can help you go mobile. Optimum and Xfinity offer the most — each has millions of Wi-Fi hotspots across the U.S. You can also pair Xfinity internet service plans with Xfinity mobile phone plans for even more mobile access.
AT&T Fiber℠ offers equal upload and download speeds for all fiber internet plans. Verizon Fios comes close to providing equal upload and download speeds. The fastest Fios plan offers upload speeds up to 880 Mbps instead of matching the plan’s download speeds of up to 940 Mbps.
Look for a reliable internet connection like cable or fiber. The speed you need depends on the size of your business and what kind of daily online communications your business uses. The more connected devices you have, and the larger the files you download and upload, the more bandwidth your business needs. When shopping, ask about included business internet features such as free email accounts, customer Wi-Fi, internet security systems, cloud backups and more.
No matter what type of internet connection you have, your home Wi-Fi may deliver speeds slower than you pay for. Home internet can slow down because of other users in the area, your internet router needs a reset or when materials at home block the signal. You can boost your internet by moving your router, resetting it or using a different transmission channel with fewer connected devices.
Last updated 06/04/19.