What's the difference?
Choosing a high speed Internet service can be a bewildering experience, in part because so many options are available. On top of that, many of the services have similar sounding technical names.
Here's a quick review of everything you need to know about high speed Internet access.
The Need for Speed
When it comes to Internet access, speed is king. In the Internet world, speed means bandwidth. In layman's terms, bandwidth is the speed at which data travels across the Internet.
While your car measures speed in miles per hour (mph), bandwidth is measured in bits per second (bps). So, the higher the bandwidth the faster the speed.
It is also important to remember that the Internet is a global shared network, and most Web sites exist outside of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Therefore, every time you use the Internet you compete with other users across this shared network. As a result, you may occasionally experience slower speeds.
The most basic Internet access option is Dial-up. Although it was the first method to connect to the Internet, and is still used, it has two big disadvantages.
First, it requires the use of your phone line, which means you cannot make phone calls while connected to the Internet.
Second, the speed is slow and often unreliable. A fast dial-up connection tops out around 48,000 bps, but it is not uncommon to see speeds as low as 20,000 bps.
For some perspective, today there are now four high speed options: Wireline DSL, Wireless DSL, WiFi and WiMAX with speeds that range from 128,000 bps (128K) to 1,544,000 (1.544M). Accordingly, the monthly fee is based on the speed.
No longer tied to the phone line: Wireline DSL & Wireless DSL
Besides offering higher bandwidth, high speed solutions do not limit the use of your phone line. The wireless options don't even require a phone line.
Wireline DSL is a technology that transmits data over phone wires. Because it uses a separate dedicated portion of the phone line, it can send and receive data much faster than Dial-up. Plus you can use your phone while connected to the Internet.
The Internet Service Provider (ISP) will typically provide a modem to access the system. and the user will pay a monthly fee based on the bandwidth.
Wireless DSL is simply DSL transmitted across the airwaves. Since there is no wire required, the user doesn't need a phone line to receive this service. The service is typically transmitted from a tower site directly to an antenna located at the user's residence or office. Although wireless DSL is not impacted by weather (i.e. rain, wind), the user's antenna must have a clear line-of-sight path to the tower site. Similar to Wireline DSL, Wireless DSL needs a modem to connect to the system. Again, the user pays a monthly fee based on their bandwidth.
WiFi is a wireless high speed service that operates over very limited areas (max of 2000-3000 feet) called "hotspots." This technology does not require a clear line-of-sight to the tower, but it does require the user to have a wireless Ethernet card in their computer. Through the wireless card, the user can log into the "hotspot" and connect to the Internet. This service is very popular in Internet cafes where users typically pay an hourly or daily usage rate.
WiMAX is the newest high speed wireless Internet service. It is similar to WiFi in that the user does not need to have an antenna with clear line-of-sight to the tower.
More importantly, it operates over much larger ranges (up to 20 miles) than WiFi. In most cases, the user can simply pick up a modem from their ISP and connect it to their computer at home for instant access to the Internet. Similar to Wireline and Wireless DSL, WiMAX also lets the user choose from a variety of service levels and pay a monthly fee based on the bandwidth.
ez Tech Talk from your tech savvy friends at Choice Communications.