How To: Find the internet service that's right for you. - Blackfoot Communications

How To: Find the internet service that’s right for you.

December 29, 2021

Once upon a time, when you wanted to use the internet, you needed a modem connected to your telephone line. As the modem connected to the internet, you’d hear all the buzzes, whirrs and pongs as it dialed your carrier’s number and connected you to their server, where you’d be able to download data at the rate of 56kbps.

Back then, we didn’t even consider downloading music or movies. Instead, we simply went to the kitchen and made ourselves a cup of coffee while we waited for our single web page to appear.

The world has changed a lot since then!

With more people working from home, increasing remote education needs and streaming movies and music, today’s requirements on our internet service have multiplied. And depending on your unique internet demands, we now have many different ways to connect to the internet—all of them a whole lot faster than once upon a time.

Fiber optic broadband

Usually just shortened to fiber internet or simply fiber, fiber optic broadband consists of fiber optic lines that are made up of small strands of glass or plastic cables, each about 1/10th the size of a single human hair. These lines transmit data using pulses of light that travel at nearly the speed of light.

Fiber internet state-of-the-art technology and is considered to be future proof.

Pros of fiber internet

  • Fiber broadband offers speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second (gbps)
  • The internet signal doesn’t degrade over distance
  • Fiber doesn’t rely on electricity, so power outages and proximity to powerful electric equipment won’t jeopardize your connection

Cons of fiber internet

  • Fiber internet isn’t yet available in all areas
  • Fiber internet can be a more expensive option than some other types of internet service

Fixed wireless

Fixed wireless internet relies on radio waves transmitted by a cell tower to deliver internet signals to an exterior antenna in order to deliver service to your home.

Pros of fixed wireless

  • Fixed wireless internet is sent through airwaves (versus through phone or cable lines)
  • Fixed wireless providers are typically locally owned and operated
  • Most often there are no data limits

Cons of fixed wireless

  • You must have line of sight connection with (and usually need to be within 10 miles of) the access point
  • internet is sent through the airwaves, which means the signal be affected by weather and other environmental factors

Cable internet

Cable internet is transmitted to your home by a local cable service provider via copper coaxial cable using the same infrastructure as cable TV.

Pros of cable internet

  • Cable internet is widely available
  • Cable internet is generally reliable and fast

Cons of cable internet

  • Cable internet is not as fast or reliable as fiber internet
  • Your cable internet connection is likely shared with your neighbors and community, slowing the service down during peak usage times
  • Many areas are service by a single provider—often a large non-local company
  • Many cable providers have been known to throttle service if you exceed certain bandwidth guidelines

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) internet

Similar to the way the internet was delivered in “the old days,” DSL internet delivers a high-speed connection to your home through a wired phone wall jack on an existing telephone network. DSL works within frequencies that aren’t used by wired or landline phones, so you can still use the internet even while making phone calls.

Pros of DSL internet

  • The cost of DSL is often less expensive than other internet services
  • Newer versions of DSL are getting faster, yet still fall behind cable and fiber
  • Dedicated line and bandwidth mean your neighbors’ use won’t affect you
  • DSL is more secure than many types of internet service
  • There are generally no new wires needed for service, as DSL runs over traditional phone lines

Cons of DSL internet

  • DSL is still much slower than man other internet options
  • DSL speeds are dependent on your proximity to the main DSL hub (the closer you are, the faster your service will be).
  • Some DSL providers implement data caps

Satellit internet

Satellite broadband involves satellite dishes in three locations: at the internet service provider’s hub, on a satellite in space, and a final dish in your home. The internet signal is then transmitted from the provider’s hub to the satellite and then to your home—and every request you make for a new web page or to send an email reverses that route.

Pros of satellite internet:

  • Currently, the primary advantage of satellite internet is that it may be available in hard to reach rural areas where conventional broadband infrastructure hasn’t yet reached
  • Speed and service are gradually improving

Cons of satellite internet:

  • Satellite internet has very high latency (or lag time) as the signal needs to make a round trip between your location and space
  • Cost tends to be higher for satellite internet than comparable conventional broadband services
  • Satellite internet can’t reach certain areas, such as deep canyons or heavily wooded areas
  • Connectivity can be impacted by weather and environmental issues
  • Many satellite internet carriers have data limits

As you can see, there’s a lot more to the choices you can make when it comes to connecting to the internet today. Which one is right for you?

At Blackfoot Communications, we’re be happy to discuss your service options with you. Contact our friendly, local service team with your questions. We’d love to hear from you!

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