Types Of Internet Access Technologies Explained, And What You Should Expect
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What kind of Internet access do you really have? Broadband? High Speed? Wireless? Satellite? Fibre? There are so many different names for selling Internet access, but most of them don’t tell you how you are connecting to the Internet. Now is a good time to find out and see just what they mean for you.

Before we get into this, if you are new to looking at the techno-side of the Internet, relax and stay calm. You can figure this stuff out and we’re here to help. If you want a basic understanding of how the Internet works in general, we’ve got an article for that too. Remember, everybody starts at zero when it comes to learning new things. I did too! Look at me now, writing and working with this stuff everyday!


This is where it all started. You would take your home or office phone handset, and put it into a cradle called a modulator/demodulator, or modem as we know them today.

The modem took digital signals from your computer and turned them into audible sounds that would get transmitted though the mouthpiece of the handset. Off the signal would go over ordinary telephone wires to the computer that was acting as your Internet service provider. The signal coming back from the Internet would be played into the ear-piece of the phone and the modem would translate that audible signal into a digital signal that the computer could work with.


That is the essence of how all Internet communications go between your computer and wherever on the Internet your communicating with. What’s changed is the medium which these signals travel through, and the signal itself.

With the dial-up modem, the signal was analog and the medium was a phone line made of a pair of copper wires. This was the “tin can and string” of the Information Superhighway, but it was the best (and only) method there was for a long, long time. Below is a diagram of the basic twisted pair of cable that phone systems use.


The signal, being analog, was not the most efficient way to communicate. If you were to picture a graph, an analog signal would look like a series of peaks and valleys, drawn with seemingly no meaning. Your voice is an analog signal, live music is an analog signal, sounds in nature are analog signals. Now you get the picture. These peaks and valleys are very nuanced, and mostly pleasant to our ears. But does it ever take up a lot of space!


Think of a vinyl record. It’s huge! Twelve inches across with a surface area of about 226 square inches. And all you could fit on it were maybe twelve 3-minute long songs. Not very efficient when you start thinking about how many thousands of songs you have on your iPhone, is it?

What You Can Expect: Dial-up providers throw the term ’56k’ around a lot. In reality, you can expect 33 kbps on average. If you can find a dial-up ISP, it’ll cost you well under $10 USD per month.

DSL (Telephone Line)

DSL is an initialization of Digital Subscriber Line. The phone companies developed a way to send a second signal down the phone lines, and they did this by sending it at a higher frequency. It’s a pretty complex method, but if you’re trying to explain it to someone, here’s a simplified analogy. Imagine a pipe that you send a green marble down every 60 seconds. When there are green marbles in the pipe, that appears to be all that you can really do with it – send green marbles. Those green marbles are the voice communications.


Now imagine that you could start sending red marbles down the pipe, between sending the green marbles. Let’s say you send the red marbles every 5 seconds. The red marbles are data. As you can tell, the data (red marbles) travel at a higher frequency than the voice (green marbles).


Yet we can still use the same old pipe that we only used for voice before and have data flow through it.


At the other end of the pipe, there’s a machine that sorts the marbles. All the data marbles go to the computer, all the voice marbles go to the phone.


In real life, this is done by a signal filter. If you have DSL service, you know what these look like. It filters out the high frequency so you can hear the voice better. Otherwise there would be a high-pitched hiss on the phone line.


To make DSL work even better, the smart folks came up with Asynchronous DSL (ADSL). They figured out that your average person is more concerned with download speeds than upload speeds. When you’re on Facebook, most of the time you are only typing a few letter and sending a few mouse clicks. That doesn’t need much bandwidth. But you’re downloading everyone else’s statuses, pictures, and videos. That takes a LOT of bandwidth.

The most popular analogy is a four-lane highway between two towns. Normally, you’d have two lanes going east, and two lanes going west. That would be a synchronous highway. We have more traffic going west than east though. So why not use one lane to go east, and three lanes to go west? That’s an asynchronous highway. The one lane is your mouse clicks and typed letters, the three lanes is everyone else’s statuses, pictures, and videos. You can see it in this chart that also shows the voice part in the lower bandwidth range.


What You Can Expect: DSL ISPs promise speeds from 1.5 Mbps to 10 Mbps, however new technology could push it to 100 Mbps. A more realistic number is about 80-90% of what your ISP advertises. DSL service cost range widely, as the speeds do, from $20 USD to $120 USD or more.

Cable (Coaxial Cable)

When Internet access made the jump from dial-up, cable was the first new medium to be used. The cable used is the same as the cable that you may have for cable TV. One of those round cables, with a solid copper wire core inside of a thick plastic like insulator. Around the insulator there is usually a foil shield with a braided aluminum jacket around that. All of that is inside the outer plastic jacket of the cable.


The beauty of cable was that many homes already had it. Coaxial cable had been used for decades to send multiple signals, why not add Internet? So they did.

Delivering Internet access over cable uses a standard called Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS). This method isn’t a whole lot different than what DSL does by using a high frequency for data and a low frequency for voice. Cable, however, uses many different frequencies – one for each channel. The oversimplified explanation of how DOCSIS works is that they added another channel (or frequency) for data. Cable can also use asynchronous data transmission, like DSL does.

Of course, cable Internet access does require special modems to work. The modem has to separate the data from the television channels and present the signal to your computer in a fashion that it will understand.

What You Can Expect: Residential service can go up to about 250 Mbps, but most ISPs offer somewhere between 10 Mbps and 120 Mbps. Cost? From around $10 USD to $100 USD per month.

Fibre Optic

The technologies that we’ve talked about so far use electricity and copper wires to transmit the signal. Then along comes fiber optics. In it’s simplest terms, the signal is light and the medium is a special type of flexible glass or clear plastic cable. Glass allows light to travel quite well, right?


Here’s an oversimplified explanation of how a fibre optic communication system works:
There is a transmitter on one end that converts the electrical signal to light. It pulses, in a similar way to how Morse Code pulses. The light travels down the glass cable to a receiver at the other end. The receiver detects the light and generates an electrical signal that your computer can use.


Light actually travels faster than electricity, a lot faster, at least when it comes to electricity flowing through a copper wire. According to UCSB’s Science Line site:

“Light travels through empty space at 186,000 miles per second. The electricity which flows through the wires in your homes and appliances travels much slower:
only about 1/100 th the speed of light.”

That’s a big part of the reason why fiber optic networks are so fast.

Unfortunately, fiber networks are not as inexpensive or simple to install and run as wire-based networks. That’s why it’s most often used for large trunks on the Internet between major cities and across oceans. More and more, you are able to get fibre to the home, though.


What You Can Expect: Download speeds up to 1 Gbps, however most services offer 100 Mbps. You can expect to pay $85 USD per month and above, as your service speed increases.

Broadband over Powerline

You might not have heard of this method of connecting to the Internet. There was some talk about it in the news about 10 years back. The basic idea is almost identical to using cable or phone lines. The signal goes over the power lines that come to your house. Why not? The lines are already there!

Remember the big blackout on the east coast of North America back in 2003? Part of the cause of that was that all the regional power suppliers have systems that aren’t the same. That makes it difficult to make the system work for reliable Internet access.


In theory it was a good idea, but not yet good enough to become a solid option to the Internet access methods we already have.

What You Can Expect: Don’t expect it.

Wireless Internet Access

The term ‘wireless’ is a big catch-all term to cover any type of Internet access that doesn’t require a cable between you and your ISP. This makes it important for you to ask a few questions before signing up for ‘Wireless Internet’. Each type works a little bit differently and has it’s own pros and cons.

Wireless Broadband

When ISPs advertise wireless broadband for your home, this is usually the type that they are talking about. The ISP will connect to the Internet through a cabled connection and then broadcast that connection using radio waves. You, as the customer, would have some sort of antenna and modem set up that would let you communicate with the ISP.

how wireless internet service providers work

These systems work almost identically to cordless phones, even on the same frequencies that cordless phones do. The ISP just broadcasts with higher power so the signal will travel further. The one challenge is that your antenna needs to have a clear line-of-sight to their antenna. If there are trees or buildings in the way, you will get little to no service.


Wireless broadband is almost always only considered an option when you don’t have cable or DSL service to your home. It’s a good option for rural homes or cottages.

The service speeds with wireless broadband aren’t nearly as fast as with fiber or cables, for the same reason that your WiFi isn’t as fast as being connected to a network cable. Signals travel better in cables than free-air.

We do have an article that will give you a more in depth look at how wireless broadband works How Does Wireless Internet Work? How Does Wireless Internet Work? Live in the country and wondering how wireless internet provides broadband coverage to rural areas? Here's what you need to know. Read More , if you’re interested.

What You Can Expect: Maximum of 1.5 Mbps, more like 800 Kbps at around $40 USD to $50 USD per month.

Mobile Internet

This is how you get the Internet on your phone, USB stick, or PC cards that go in your computer. Service providers typically refer to it as Mobile Wireless Broadband, even though the term broadband isn’t technically being used correctly.


For a large part of the world, if you have cell phone service, you should be able to get mobile Internet service. Being available practically everywhere, and so many people having smartphones, there is an argument to be made that wireless Internet is the future.


Mobile Internet works with radio waves, similar to wireless broadband. Most people don’t realize that their cellphones are actually a type of radio. Over the years, service providers have figured out a way to transmit voice and data at the same time. There are several different ways that data can be sent over the cell signal. You’ve heard the terms 3G, 4G, and more recently, LTE. Each of those methods has a different way of sending data. 3G is an older, slower method and LTE is the newer faster method. The underlying principle is still the same though.

What You Can Expect: With LTE service, up to 150 Mbps, but more like 75 Mbps. Much less if you’re not in an LTE zone. Prices vary wildly.

Satellite Internet

As the name suggests, this is a way to get Internet access via a satellite dish. The signal gets beamed to a satellite which turns around and beams the signal to you, and vice versa. Like wireless broadband, it is a line-of-sight technology. Your dish needs to have a clear shot at wherever the satellite is in the sky. That’s why it takes a professional installer to set it up.


Each transmission takes about a 45,000 mile trip between you, the satellite, and the ISP. From what we talked about earlier, you know that a signal traveling that far will get pretty weak. Attenuation. That’s part of why satellite Internet service isn’t usually your first choice. Another reason is that everyone in your area using satellite Internet has to share the same bandwidth. The area is the size of Utah or Ghana. That could be a lot of people. If you’re hogging the bandwidth, the ISP will slow your connection down to a crawl to give everyone else a chance. If you want to learn a bit more about how satellite Internet works How Satellite Internet Works? [Technology Explained] How Satellite Internet Works? [Technology Explained] Read More , we’ve got an article on that too.

What You Can Expect: Up to 10 Mbps, but expect about half of that. It can cost from $40 USD to $100 USD per month.

Summing It Up

Just like there are many ways to get your television or phone service, there are many ways to get your Internet service. (Whether Internet access is a human right Isn't Internet Access a Human Right? Isn't Internet Access a Human Right? You love being online, but is it a fundamental of life? Is internet access a human right? And if not, should it be? Read More  is another matter altogether.) Often, all three of these services are using the same method to come into your home. That prompts the question – where does the phone and TV stop and the Internet begin? Hint: they’re all part of the Internet now.

Image Credits: Analogue modem – acoustic coupler by secretlondon123, US Robotics 56K Modem Front by Xiaowei, Basic Twisted Pair Phone Cable via Wikimedia,
Coaxial Cutaway via Wikimedia,
Multimode Fiber by Hhedeshian, HughesNet Satellite Dish by MyBoogers, ADSL Frequency Plan via Wikimedia, ADSL splitter by Generatorglukoff, Fiber Optic Lighting by Hustvedt, Installing Fiber Cable by Shuli Hallak
Ice Storm Power Lines by Brian0918 WISP Antenna on a House via Wikimedia, A few Novatel Wireless devices by Aravind Sivaraj, Mobile Broadband Worldwide by Wikimedia.

Explore more about: Bandwidth, ISP, Powerline.

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  1. Rinchen chogyel
    July 26, 2016 at 5:10 am

    sorry to distrub to the concern people .so i need help or information.
    In my villages there are many house hold and some are scattered say 6-7 km away from the main station so please suggest me how can i use tv cable to view the same station Tv

  2. Brian
    March 2, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Nice article but terribly out of date.

    • Guy McDowell
      March 2, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      Thank you. Yet all of these technologies are still in use around the world.

      Prices and speed specs may have changed, but the underlying principles are the same.

  3. ankit
    December 18, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    First of all, very nice article.

    I want to create a college project which is based on how internet work but main challenge for me is, how can I make working satellite which contact with server as well as user.

  4. rajesh
    December 12, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    oops! is it

  5. rajesh
    December 12, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    it,s possible to make internet by own with simple materials

    • Guy McDowell
      December 12, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      You can network two computers together with just a network cable, or a null modem cable. But that's not the Internet.

      Connecting to the Internet requires at least a computer, a modem, and a telephone line. Then you could connect to an Internet service provider.

  6. Anonymous
    October 12, 2015 at 1:28 am

    Thanks. Excellent article.
    I'm angry that we are paying more, getting less.
    Less speed and few choices.
    We don't live in the land of the free anymore.
    ComCrap is now charging me $40/mo for 3.4Mbps.
    Just spoke with nice young lady in the Phillipines. She said they only pay $11/mo
    and are getting 4.7Mbps. A gent in India told me thay have six ISPs to choose from.
    The only other true option appears to be AT&T which is a worse monopoly than Comcast.
    In previous years I was paying $14.95mo for basic broadband, it was faster and the ISP even gave me a whopping 10MB space for a web site. That was with Earthlink who now only offers dial-up in the south Florida area at $25/month. No thanks.
    I'm just adding this to the list of reasons to leave this Land of the Sheep, Home of the Enslaved.

    • Guy McDowell
      December 12, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      Sorry I didn't see this earlier.

      I feel your pain. I'm on ADSL that maxes out at about 900 kbps and that costs me $100/month. Meanwhile, our provincial government keeps throwing money at ISPs to get highspeed to the rural areas.

      Still waiting...

  7. kumar kaustubh
    April 22, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    Really helpful article..
    Had one question
    What does broadband basically mean?
    Can ADSL connection be considered as braodband connection?

    • Guy
      April 22, 2015 at 7:50 pm

      Hi Kumar,

      Thank you!

      Yes, ADSL is considered a broadband connection by most standards. Granted, it's a lot slower than fiber optic, but it's way quicker than dial-up.

      The word "broadband" can be used in so many different ways. The common denominator is that a broadband connection is always on. You don't need to sign in or dial up everytime you want to use it.

      A broadband connection will also use a wide array (or band) of frequencies. So if we were talking radio stations, it'd be like one station broadcasting on every channel between 88 and 108 FM. That one station could send out a lot of info.

      A very narrow band would be one station operating at, say 101.5 FM. That's all they have to send info over, so the information will be much more limited.

      That's not a perfect analogy at all, but I hope it gets the general idea across.

      The FCC in the US used to define broadband Internet access as any service with greater than 4 Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speeds - at peak. They've recently changed it to be any service greater than 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload speeds.

      Hope that helps!

  8. Guy
    November 15, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Hi Sopheavy,

    I'm not sure I understand the question. Could you give me some more details?

  9. Sopheavy
    November 14, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Can you tell me " how many type is Internet? "

  10. Esa N
    October 14, 2014 at 12:01 am

    Hi! I live in Finland, Rauma (small city, population around 40 000). I have seen pretty poor speeds in the comments. I have a DOCSIS connection. Here are my results: http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/3829954803

    My parents live on countryside and they have 24 mbit/s ADSL.

    Many people in Finland complain that we have so slow internet connections, but when reading these comments, I think we have pretty fast connections!

  11. Guy
    October 6, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Hey Kai,

    Thanks for the info. Yep, I'm guessing they do need to bump up their infrastructure. Many of the ISPs I checked were Canadian, so I wonder if that has something to do with it.

    Good to hear that WISP in general is much faster than I had pegged it to be. Lots of rural folks will be happy to hear that.

  12. Kai
    October 2, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    I used to work for a rural Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) in Colorado for a few years. Our starting/low-end speed was 1.5 Mbps but our average speed was 5-7 Mpbs with 10 offered in some areas. Our Internet speeds were often faster and more reliable then the phone companies in the area who provided DSL.

    Much of the speed for wireless Internet depends on the infrastructure going to the antennas that service customers as well as their locations in relationship to customers homes and businesses. So it sounds like the ISPs whom you based your 1.5 Mbps speed on need to make some improvements.

  13. Peter F
    September 24, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Thanks for this article. It's a great starting point for folks like me who use the internet but don't always understand it fully.

    I have ADSL at home and found the part about the upload/download speed quite eye opening and answered a few questions I always had at the back of my mind.

    It seems that everyone around me has superfast fibre optic broadband, but I live waaaaaaay out in the middle of nowhere (UK) and am content with my average 5mb/sec so far!

    • Guy M
      September 25, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      It's all relative isn't it? 5MB/s is usually enough for anything but intensive video streaming. Somethings just take patience. I'm fine with that.

  14. J O
    September 24, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    I am a customer of prairieinet. http://www.prairieinet.net/

    • Guy M
      September 26, 2014 at 11:39 am

      Very cool. You should let them know you mentioned them here, on one of the top 1000 websites on the Internet. Maybe they'll spot you a month or something. Couldn't hurt to try! :)

  15. J O
    September 24, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    I am a current wireless internet customer because I live in a rural area. I receive my signal from a grain elevator about two miles away from my house via a dish that looks very much like a satellite TV dish. I am getting download speeds of about 8Mbps and upload speeds of about 3Mbps. I am on the lowest price plan offered. My ISP promises to increase speeds in the next year without a rate increase. 1.5Mbps seems to be very low.

    • Guy M
      September 24, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      That's excellent! If you don't mind, could you put your ISP's name and web address here? I'm sure people would like to know about them.

    • J O
      September 25, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      My ISP is PrairieInet. prairienet.net

  16. Eva
    September 24, 2014 at 3:33 am

    Guy, I think you did a fine job of keeping it simple, and some of us like that. I started this online stuff a long time ago, with DOS, Prodigy, Genie & my first modem was a blazing 300 baud hurricane.

    Remember the movie "Sneakers?"

    I'm still learning, and ALL of your articles have taught me something new. BTW, thanks to your tips on extending battery life, I've told many of my friends to use the black background, and now they, too, are using it. It's elegant and very classy.

    Please continue to keep it simple. ÷)

    • Guy M
      September 24, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      Hi Eva. Oh yes, those were the days! Sneakers is one of my favourite movies. Even though the movies are usually a little off on the tech facts, they're partly responsible for me getting into IT. That and a great Grade 6 teacher. Thank you Mrs. Dogger!

      We're all still learning. That's the whole point, isn't it? The day I say I know it all is the day they should take me out back.

      I'm constantly learning about technology from people who are journalists, artists, accountants...all walks of life. They usually find the most unique ways to do things - some of them way better than the accepted methods. A chiropractor introduced me to Ubuntu.

      I hope you continue to enjoy our site and comment. That's where we all really learn.

  17. Janet Van Stry
    September 24, 2014 at 2:16 am

    Your service provides exactly what it's name implies. If the professional is to advanced for this site, perhaps he should stick to. The more technical sites.His remarks were totally out of bounds. I was offended and I think he belittles himself. Not flattering. Not impressed!

    • Guy M
      September 24, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      Hi Janet. I'm glad you enjoyed the article and I hope you continue to enjoy our site.
      Are there topics you'd like us to write about?

  18. Joe
    September 24, 2014 at 2:07 am

    Dear MUO team
    I am one of those people just learning and after having read many of your articles I find they are easy to understand and don't care for the in depth techno jargon.

    Good work(s) guys.

    • Guy M
      September 24, 2014 at 4:43 pm

      Joe, thank you!
      When we do use technical terms, we try to explain them in layman's terms as best we can first.
      Maybe we should have a glossary on the site somewhere too.

  19. Dottie
    September 24, 2014 at 2:02 am

    Jeff, I am a 73 year old female who enjoys reading these articles from MUO so I can feel like I am not totally clueless. I am a consumer and feel these articles help me to become more informed before I buy something.

    • Guy M
      September 24, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      Dottie, thank you. I'm glad you're enjoying our articles.
      Feel free to ask questions if there's something you'd like to know more about.
      Our authors and other readers are a pretty helpful bunch.

  20. Jeff Schallenberg
    September 23, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    It's true I have a physics and telecommunications background. But MUO is for geeks, not nincompoops. When you add an unsourced explanation like "Part of the reason is that light is massless; it has no weight, whereas the electricity flowing in the wires is made up of a stream of electrons, all of which have some small amount of weight", it bugs me.

    It's not electrons that move through copper cable at half the speed of light - it's the electromagnetic field that they generate as they move short distances between collisions with other electrons. The speed of waves in any medium depends on the dielectric constant of the medium - the insulating material in the copper cable, or the mixture of silicon dioxide and trace minerals like germanium or erbium in the case of fibre.

    Don't treat your readers like dummies.

    • Guy M
      September 23, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      Jeff, I'm sorry to say, you are mistaken.

      MakeUseOf.com is for EVERYBODY. Especially those people that are just learning to 'make use of' technology.

      If you couldn't get from the brevity of this article and the breadth of scope that it attempts to cover, that the article was for people new to telecommunications, I'm sorry. I just don't know what else to say to you.

      We do have articles that go more in-depth into very specific topics. I hope that you enjoy those, and feel free to gloss over the articles intended for the person new to certain technologies.

  21. Ed
    September 23, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Verizon's DSL offering for most customers is .5-1.0 Mbps, you can check their website. Higher speeds may be available, however what they don't say is that you have to be close to the CO (usually the Telco little brick building somewhere within about 2 miles as the crow flies of your home in urban areas). Think of it as a target with a bullseye center spot. If you are lucky enough to live near the center bullseye you can get the higher speeds offered. Chances are since there is more area around the center you probably live past the limit (they measure it in feet and I forget the DSL speed/distance limits) for the higher speeds so you get the slower speed only and if you are real unlucky you could be past the distance cutoff limit for DSL service at all from your CO.
    Having DSL almost since it was first offered in my area by Verizon I can say ...
    a. The plan quoted speed was higher and my actual speed was higher. The quoted DSL plan speed now is .5-1.0 Mbps and I usually see (from various speed test websites) .6-.7 Mbps. and is the highest speed plan available to me. I know this because once it slowed to a certain point I started (and keep) checking to see if a higher speed plan was available to me and it is not.
    b. Price keeps going up little by little which would not be so bad if the speed had not kept going down since it now to the point that reading my email almost reminds me of the dialup service of yesteryear.
    c. Why is this since I keep hearing about new DSL technology that is faster. Are they closing CO's and using the new tech to run more customers off fewer CO's? Or is it that they have more customers so they reduce each customers bandwidth? I know they can do this since my
    service has dropped below .5 Mbps more than once. This requires me to place a service call, wait usually until the next day for a callback then explain to (x) levels of tech support and then depending on how good the person is that I am talking to finally getting forwarded to the higher level tech support that then go in and adjust back up to the speed I am paying for.
    d. Or it is something different altogether, are they offering DSL just because they have or need to but would rather push service like LTE since it is more profitable so they really aren't interested in keeping customers happy with DSL?

    • Guy M
      September 23, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      Hi Ed,

      Thank you for the in-depth information about Verizon. I'm sure it will prove useful to people looking at different Internet Service Providers.

      Why Verizon does what it does is beyond me, but whenever I'm faced with something like this, technology usually isn't the limiting factor. It's usually policy, and policy is driven by profit.

    • intelligencia
      October 6, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      Hi ED!

      The situation you described is Exactly my experience with VERIZON'S DSL which I have had for a number of years now. I used to have the 3.0 Mbps Plan some time ago but due to financial difficulties I had to cut back to the 1.0. Nevertheless, when I rebounded money-wise I asked for the return of the 3.0 Plan - - but of course there was a Hitch: I could get it as long as it was bundled with VERIZON'S land-line phone service. Yes. I kept the 1.0 speed since I had no need of land-line service as I have MagicJack(tm) which handles all my domestic calls with no monthly fees! I would love to increase my Internet speed though and so I am waiting for VERIZON FIOS service to come into my building (the company is now wiring my building) but we won't have service until about March 2015! I have been waiting years for FIOS and can't wait until I have it installed in my happy abode!


  22. Maryon Jeane
    September 23, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    It all becomes pretty academic if you live in some parts of rural England: we've had Government money (apparently/allegedly) for this purpose but where it's gone is anybody's guess - perhaps in our latest upgrade of the copper wire from the 1930s version to 2014? Where do people most need to work from home? In the countryside. Where is there no fibre optic (or any other type of) cabling? In the countryside. Where is there no mobile mast reception? You guessed it... I've got friends in outback Africa with better communications than we have here!

    • Guy M
      September 23, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Same thing here in Canada. Keyword - Government. Good for some things, but not for much.

  23. Sean Murphy
    September 23, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    My connection is over wireless internet, important for me because I live in rural Ireland. Wireless internet is quite alright if you use the right technology such as the outstanding Ubiquiti Networks products. http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/3781169887, as you can see my latency and speed is quite good. This is because I run my OWN wireless network. I rent a space on a local mast in the city and setup with a RocketDish. At home I have another RocketDish and that gives me incredible speed and latency. My internet is then limited by whatever backbone / OnTheGround ISP I use. Wireless isnt bad in certain places.

    • Guy M
      September 24, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      Sean, that IS cool!

      Would you mind sharing a ball park figure about how much it cost to set this up?
      What's the rent on the space on the mast?

    • Sean Murphy
      September 24, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      The mast I use is a small 100 foot mast that has direct sight of my home with no cutoffs or trees in the way. They guy who owns it charges me 150 a year to have my TINY rocket dish setup on it, and I run that to the ground where it connects directly to the modem from the ISP on the ground that I use. I pay around 150 a year for the mast 150 for the backbone and all the rest I own myself. 300 Euro a year for 20 + Mb/s internet isnt bad.

    • Guy M
      September 25, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      That's some excellent problem solving. Most people wouldn't think of that, even IT folks. There are a lot of unique ways to overcome what people call the 'last mile' problem. That's how to keep up the speed or connection between the last fast point and the house.

  24. Jurgens Krause
    September 23, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Working for a wireless ISP, we deliver speeds up to 40mbps using off the shelf equipment and up to 100mbps using carrier class hardware. I am not sure where you get the 1.5Mbps from.

    • Guy M
      September 23, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      From the 20-odd WISP websites I visited to see what rates they were advertising.
      I would say that as a WISP your company is the exception not the norm.

  25. Jeff Schallenberg
    September 23, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Your explanation of the speed advantage of fibre over copper is 'way off base. The speed of light in glass and copper is about the same - 0.5 to 0.6 that of a vacuum. The advantage of fibre is the huge bandwidth. In copper wires and cable, signals are limited to around 500 kHz. Multi-Mb/s signals are encoded in amplitude and phase to fit into that bandwidth. In fibre, simple on-off coding is sufficient to send multi-gigabit/s signals.

    • Guy M
      September 23, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      Do you understand that this article is for someone who does NOT have a background in networking, physics, signal theory and all these other advanced areas?

      Do you understand that this article is for the person who just wants a high-level overview of how these things work?

      Do you understand that criticizing an article written at a newspaper audience level for not having textbook detailed or textbook length explanations is just an exercise is asserting your own superiority over people who are superior to you in other areas of knowledge?

      And no, my explanation of the speed advantage of fibre over copper is not way off base.

      "Electrons and light particles/waves do travel at the similar speeds...until you put moving electrons in a cable. Part of the reason is that light is massless; it has no weight, whereas the electricity flowing in the wires is made up of a stream of electrons, all of which have some small amount of weight. In addition, the electrons flowing through the wires constantly bump into the atoms of the wire, which slows them down considerably. If you were to take the electrons out of the wire and make them flow through space (which is essentially what you do when you make a spark), they can move faster, but no matter what, they cannot move as fast light."

      Do you think anyone that just got on the Internet is going to understand a word you just wrote?

    • Joseph A. Nourie
      October 25, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Thank You VERY much Guy for keeping the technical aspects to an "understandable to the newspaper audience" level...Mr. Schallenberg's insufferable need to show his superior intellect in this area needs to be kept at bay......You are doing a GREAT service for the rest of us who are here to LEARN from you. The way you present the facts, and the "innerworkings" of these systems is super interesting to say the least, easy to understand...AND..greatly appreciated. The fact that you don't expose us to the mundane triviality of....say....comparing the speed of light in glass and copper, as opposed to the speed of light in a vacuum shows how well you are able to get your point across without telling us how smart you are, and doing it in an interesting-to-read way....WELL DONE Mr. McDowell

    • Guy
      October 25, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      Hey Joseph, thank you for the kind words.

      It's fairly easy for me to "dumb things down", since that's how I learn best. What I have to do to really learn something is to take something complex and abstract and try to find other real world things that are similar.

      As an afterthought, my Dad had a saying that I find applies more and more every day. "Educated don't mean smart."

  26. dsl_or_multiplex
    September 23, 2014 at 12:57 am

    You're analogy of how DSL travels over a voice line is somewhat flawed.

    What you're describing is multiplexing. Send one green marble, then red marbles in between the green.

    DSL over voice is like sending red marbles in the spaces around the green marbles, rather than the interval between them.

    • Guy M
      September 23, 2014 at 11:28 am

      You're absolutely correct. However the analogy was intended to help someone without any understanding of this sort of thing wrap their head around it.
      By the fact that you understand this, I'd say this article was beneath your level of understanding.

  27. kortez
    September 23, 2014 at 12:16 am

    They have the same princip if you learn one you can get the others quickly and easly

    • Guy M
      September 23, 2014 at 11:29 am

      Yes, the very basic principle of data transmission applies across the board. Then it is honed for each type of medium to get the most out of it. Excellent!