Your Options for High Speed Internet

Cable and ADSL are not the only options for getting online. Broadband (high speed) internet can be achieved a variety of ways. Here are four major broadband choices below. If you can average 10 to 25 megabits-per-second down speeds with your connection, you should have a smooth daily internet experience, whichever connection method you choose.

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Cable Internet

Coaxial cable
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What We Like

  • Cable internet is the fastest overall choice in 2016.

  • The best choice for heavy file sharing, heavy downloading, and sending/broadcasting your own streaming video.

  • A good choice for serious gamers, as latency is moderate.

  • A good choice for families, as multiple computers can easily share a single cable connection.

  • Available to most people in metro areas.

  • Many users already have a cable connection for their TV, so setup can be fast.

  • If combined with TV and VoIP telephoning, an all-in-one media bundle package can be a very attractive setup for your family.

What We Don't Like

  • The special modems can sometimes be quirky.

  • You may need to have the tech install booster devices if you do a lot of downloading.

  • Bandwidth can be high, but gaming latency can also be higher than DSL.

  • You will share your bandwidth speed with your neighbors. This means that if you happen to live next door to many serious downloaders and movie-streaming fans, your own speeds will decline sharply when they are online.


  • Down speed (more is better): 25 to 100+ megabits per second
  • Up speed (more is better): 2 to 8 Mbps
  • Latency: (less is better) 150 to 500 ms, depending on your area


  • $25 to $90 per month, plus installation fees


Cable should be the first choice for 99 percent of urban users.

TV cable internet is arguably the best choice for urban residents. Depending on your location, you can get blazing fast download speeds of 30 to 100 megabits-per-second (Mbps).

Cable internet is a service offered by your television cable provider, and the type of cable hardware they use supports these phenomenal connection speeds. The one major downside is that cable internet often shares your download speeds with your neighbors, in the same way, your hot water tank is shared across your whole house. If you happen to live near 2 or 3 hardcore file downloaders in your neighborhood, you will see your download speeds drop to as slow as 5 Mbps during simultaneous heavy usage.

Cable internet requires special modems, and a hard line will need to be either wired to your house, or your existing TV cable will be spliced to bring the internet into your home.

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DSL: Digital Subscriber Line

A modem and ethernet cable on a desk
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What We Like

  • Very convenient for users who already have telephone subscriptions.

  • Available in more rural areas than cable.

  • No sharing of bandwidth with your neighbors: your speeds should be very constant through each day.

  • Perhaps the best choice for gamers, as DSL commonly has lower latency than cable.

What We Don't Like

  • The monthly price should be cheaper than cable internet, so watch that you are not gouged.

  • ADSL speeds are considered slow by modern standards.

  • Not the best choice for heavy downloading and file sharing.

  • Not always the best choice for families, as many ADSL providers limit the number of computers to 2 for addressing reasons.

DSL has a few variants: ADSL, ADSL2+, and VDSL2, in order of increasing speed.


  • Down speed: 1.5 to 15 Mbps for ADSL
  • Up speed: 128 kbps to 1.0 Mbps for ADSL
  • Latency: (less is better) 75 to 400 ms, depending on your area


  • $35 to $50 per month, plus installation fees


ADSL should be the second choice for most users, after cable internet.

ADSL, or often just called 'DSL' for short, is a type of telephone connection made for internet signals. If you already have a telephone hard line in your home, it can be quite quick to enable internet DSL for your computer.

ADSL achieves speeds that are not as fast as cable but can be quite fast for most users: 8 to 15 megabits per second. Unless you are a hardcore downloader, this is plenty fast for daily Internet and gaming needs.

ADSL does require special modems and small devices called microfilters.

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3G/4G Wireless Cell Phone Internet

Flash drive and laptop
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  • Down speed: 0.4 to 50 Mbps
  • Up speed:  0.2 to 6 Mbps
  • Latency: (less is better) 250 to 800 ms, depending on your area


  • $30 to $110 per month, plus startup fees


While this is the third choice for metro users (after cable and DSL), 4G is the first choice for travelers and rural residents. 4G and its HSPA+ technology are getting better, and we can expect to see 100 Mbps wireless speeds as a standard in a couple of years. If the 4G providers manage the target market well, 4G wireless will become the worldwide standard in internet connectivity within a few years.

3G and 4G are named for '3rd generation wireless' and '4th generation wireless' networking. They are essentially cell phone internet connections. Both 3G and 4G wireless use cell phone towers and cell phone signals to provide your internet connection. 

3G download speeds are significantly slower than wired cable and DSL. Expect a 3G connection to average 1 to 4 megabits-per-second down speed, and even less up to speed. 4G connections, however, are much faster at 14 to 42 Mbps down speed, and easily rival cable and DSL connection speeds.

As a 3G or 4G user, your wireless modem will likely be a 'dongle': a small device that will connect to your laptop USB port. As long as you are in a cell phone coverage area, you should get wireless Internet with the same reliability that you get cell phone service. You will only get to have one computer on the internet at a time with your dongle, so this is not a good choice for families with several machines. But as an individual traveling user, 4G is an excellent way to get online.

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Satellite Internet

A home satellite dish
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  • Down speed: 0.5 to 1 Mbps
  • Up speed:  less than 1 Mbps
  • Latency: (less is better) 800 to 2500 ms, depending on your area


  • $100 to $250 per month, plus $300 to $1000 for the satellite dish, plus installation fees


Don't even bother looking at this satellite choice if you can get cable, DSL, or 4G.

Satellite is prohibitively expensive and should be the last choice for any private user. But if you live in a remote area with no cell phone coverage, a satellite may be your only choice. Satellite internet is available as a down-only connection (you cannot send emails or file share; you need to use a telephone modem to do that), or as a full two-way connection which is much more expensive.

Installation of the satellite dish on your home will cost you over $1000, plus the time and effort to do the install. And monthly subscription costs are often $100 to $250, depending on your provider.

Down speeds with satellite internet are 0.5 to 1 megabit-per-second, and up speeds are much slower. Latency is very poor, often 800 ms and worse.