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What is Broadband Internet?

In general, Internet service providers use the term broadband Internet to describe their high-speed Internet connections. The term broadband is actually shorthand for “broad bandwidth,” which describes its fast speed and "always on" capabilities.The four main types of broadband internet are Cable Internet, DSL Internet, Satellite Internet and Fiber internet

Unlike a dial-up connection – which treats your phone line as a single, narrow pipe between your computer and your internet service provider, and then hogs that entire data line – broadband internet works in an entirely different way. Broadband Internet splits your data line up into multiple channels, giving it the ability to send large amounts of information down these multiple channels at the same time.

Think about it like this: If the information you’re sending or receiving (like an email) is a car, then the broadband Internet connection is a multi-lane highway. This allows all your information (i.e., traffic) to travel much faster down the highway in than it ever could down a single-lane road.

The Four Types of Broadband Internet

Overall, broadband Internet is offered in four different forms – cable, DSL, satellite, and fiber optic – just like there are different kinds of highways, roads, streets, etc. Each one comes with its own benefits and drawbacks, as you’ll see below.

  • Cable Internet – Boasts speeds up to 100x faster than a standard dial-up connection. However, its speeds will fluctuate depending upon the number of folks attempting to access the network at the same time. (Think of it like how traffic slows down your commute at peak times and rush hours.
  • DSL Internet – Boasts speeds up to 40x faster than dial-up, and your speed will always be steady, no matter if you have 2 or 200 people tapping into the network. However, the further you are from the central network, the slower overall your connection will be and remain. (Kind of like how your morning commute is always the same number of miles, so it takes longer to get there than if you lived right around the corner.)
  • Satellite Internet – Up to 50x faster than dial-up. But, since that satellite signal has much farther to travel than other, earthbound internet connections, there is often a slight lag in service and a higher risk of disruptions. However, it does offer Internet to folks far from the grid who couldn’t have it otherwise.
  • Fiber Internet – Up to 1000x faster than dial-up, with a clean and consistent connection coming into your home. As of today, however, only a few markets can take advantage of fiber’s blazing fast speeds, but the fiber network is steadily expanding.

How to Choose and Compare Broadband Internet

There are a number of factors that go into choosing the best broadband Internet provider for your needs – such as speed, price, ease and quality of connection, and availability. So, to compare broadband options that any number of available broadband Internet providers could run into your home, simply enter your address in the box above. Once you do, we’ll gather a list of all the broadband connections and broadband Internet providers that currently offer services to your home.

Once you know what each is offering, you can then use our broadband comparison tool to learn about each provider, select several plans, and weigh their options side-by-side. And with our help, you’ll quickly be able to see which broadband Internet type makes the most sense for you to purchase.