What Types of Internet Connections Available

The majority of today’s world population uses the internet on daily basis, however, sadly, very few people have the basic knowledge regarding this powerful technology. As such, we decided to devote today’s article to take a closer look at various types of internet connections.

Herein, you will learn all you need to know about the different types of internet connections. With the knowledge attained in this article, you will have a deeper understanding of the topic, which will enable you to choose the best option for your needs among the types of internet connections available to you.

Are you ready to dig in? Let’s do this?

What Is the Internet?

To make sure we are all on the same level of understanding before we move on to types of internet connections, we need to tell you what the internet is. We are sure you have some level of understanding and your own definition in your mind already, right? What is it? It can seem like something very abstract, right? Check if it matches the definition below.

Types of Internet Connections

The internet is a global network of computers. To help you imaging this complex network better we can use the analogy with the postal system. So imagine the internet as a postal system that is able to make deliveries in less than one second. Now, replace the envelopes and packages with packages of digital data and you should have a good sense of what the internet is. It enables all connected to that network of computers to send or receive those packages of data.

That explained, let’s take a look at the types of internet connection.

Types of Internet Connections

Now that you know what the internet is, we can focus on various types of internet connections, which we will dive into below. Before we do that, let’s also explain what internet connections are. Knowing that the internet is nothing but a huge network of computers, then we can easily define that the internet connection is nothing but a way or method of connecting to that network of computers. And there are quite many types of internet connections in 2020.

There are many ways to look at each internet connection type but we will focus on how it works, what speed it offers, how much it costs, and its major pros and cons.

Dial-Up Internet Connections

Dial-up used to be the most common type of internet connection, however, these days it is relatively rarely used since it offers slow speeds. Dial-up is recommended only for occasional to light usage, such as budget-friendly users who enjoy casually browsing and checking email, social media, and news updates and do not mind slower speeds. The largest provider is AOL.

How does it work?

Dial-up (as the name suggests) uses phone lines to transfer data. It also uses the modem that is usually installed in your computer – essentially modems are connected using the phone line. When you connect, your modem dials other modems (those typically owned by landline providers) and thus establishes the connection that enables you to access the web.

Average speed

Dial-up is by far the slowest among all the types of internet connections. Dial-up connections are, theoretically, able to offer speeds of up to 56 kbps (k = kilo; M=Mega; 1M = 1000k), however, in reality, average speeds range between 40-50 kbps, but can be as low as 28 kbps.

Average cost

The average cost for dial-up services ranges between $10 – 15. It can be as low as $5 or as high as $25. Those packages will typically come with unlimited data, however, there may be data caps in some case. Alternatively, you may look at providers that charge by minute connected (prepaid internet).


  • Main advantage of dial-up internet connection is its affordable price
  • All you need is a landline (good coverage) – no external modem boxes required


  • Main disadvantage of this type of internet connection is its very slow speed
  • Your landline is not available for calls when connected to the internet (single line)

DSL Internet Connections

DSL – Digital Subscriber Line. It is a type of internet connection that is always “on”. It uses 2 lines, which means that your phone is not tied up when your computer is connected. No dialing is needed to connect, which makes it way more practical and thus way more widely used than the dial-up. There are several types of DSL, including ADSL, SDSL, and VDSL, which is on average three times faster than ADSL.

How does it work?

When it comes to a DSL internet connection, both voice and internet data can flow over the same telephone line at the same time (two lines). It also requires the use of a DSL modem that is used to filter the voice and data. The modem converts an analog signal into a digital one.

Average speed

DSL speeds come in a wide range, depending on the provider and the area. DSL download speeds can be as low as 128 kbps or as high as 100 Mbps.

Average cost

The price of DSL internet connection service varies from area to area and from provider to provider. However, on average, it will cost you somewhere between $40-45 per month.


  • In the right areas, DSL can offer solid speeds (at least compared to dial-up)
  • Always-on – no need to reconnect every time you want to go online
  • Uses your phone line but does not tie up your phone.
  • Good coverage


  • Special equipment and setup from your phone company is required
  • Buy or rent a modem
  • Set up fees
  • The farther away you are from the central office, the slower your DSL speeds.

ISDN Internet Connections

Integrated Service Digital Network (ISDN) is very similar to DSL, and those two are often mixed up in various discussions. However, ISDN is much slower than DSL and has, as such, been mainly replaced by DSL. It is basically not in use.

There are two major types of ISDN, which include BRI (Basic Rate Interface) and PRI (Primary Rate Interface)

How does it work?

ISDN is a digital network to transmit voice, image, video, and text over the existing circuit-switched PSTN telephone network. It makes it possible to manage two connections or calls at the same time and simplifies data transmission when using the internet.

Average speed

ISDN offers faster speeds than dial-up, however slower than DSL. On average, ISDN speeds are around 144 and 192 kbps.

Average cost

No longer available for new customers. Replaced by DSL.


  • Two line
  • Faster than dial-up
  • Always-on – no need to reconnect every time you want to go online


  • Still very slow
  • Often better option in rural areas

Cable Internet Connections

Broadband Cable internet services are typically provided by the same providers that provide cable television as it uses the same infrastructure.

How does it work?

The internet service provider (ISP) has a cable line reaching your home/office. The cable line is then normally split into two lines, one leading to the cable TV box and the other to the cable modem (Wi-Fi modem may also be used). The modem converts the signal, which is then transferred to your computer or other internet devices.

Average speed

Cable internet speed varies from 512 kbps to 20 Mbps on average.

Average cost

Cable internet providers offer various speed packages and thus the prices vary noticeably. Lower speeds can come at as low as $20/month, while the highest speed may cost up to $80/month in some areas.


  • Solid speeds (faster than dial-up, satellite, and most DSLs)
  • Unlike DSL, cable internet is not affected by distance
  • Lower latencies
  • Doesn’t require a phone line
  • Always-on – no need to reconnect every time you want to go online


  • Multiple users are on the same line, which causes slower speeds during peak hours
  • Speed are not as fast as with fiber
  • Not available in many areas (coverage limitations)
  • Initial connection fees can be relatively high

Fixed Wireless Internet Connections

Fixed wireless is a relatively new technology. It is a solid alternative, especially for certain remote rural areas. Coverage is still limited since there are not many providers yet, however, the speeds can match those offered by satellite connections and at a much more affordable price.

How does it work?

Instead of using a cable, it brings the internet signal to your home via radio waves transmitted by a base station (in a sense it works similar to cellular signal but on different frequencies). When you opt for fixed wireless internet, your provider installs a receiver on your house, which then communicates with the nearest wireless base station. That way it offers you access to the web via a cable carrying the broadband signal from the receiver to the router in your house.

Average speed

Speed can’t compete with fiber and vary from area to area. However, they can be between 12 and 75 Mbps.

Average cost

The price will depend on the speed of the package and its cap. Fixed wireless is normally more affordable than a satellite but more expensive than DSL, cable, or fiber. It can be anywhere between $50 and $100 per month.


  • Great and simple solution for rural areas (no wires required)
  • Solid speeds
  • Fast and easy installation
  • New technology


  • Very limited number of providers for now
  • Not as affordable as some other solutions
  • Speeds can’t match the fiber

Fiber-Optic Internet Connections

Fiber optic is without a question the best among the available types of internet connections in 2020. Of course, it has its cons too, however, it is overall the best choice for those lucky enough to live in an area that offers the required infrastructure.

How does it work?

Fiber-optic internet connection uses a relatively new infrastructure of the optic fiber network. In some areas, the network is shared among the internet providers, in others each provider has its own network. That means that the coverage is still limited.

The signal travels via the optical fiber (it offers lightning speeds) from the provider to the local signal switch and from there to your house, where it uses a modem to convert the light into a digital signal.

Average speed

As mentioned above, fiber-optic offers incredible speeds – up to 10 Gbps (G= Giga; 1G = 1000M).

Average cost

Depending on the area and the provider, the speeds vary a lot. You can get it for as low as $30 in some areas. However, the average monthly cost is about $50-60. For extreme speeds, you may be charger up to $200 per month. Considering the speeds that fiber-optic internet offers, it is the most affordable option.


  • Extreme speeds
  • Highest level of reliability
  • Very limited amount of signal disturbance
  • Extremely scalable
  • Very secure
  • Long-term cost-effective
  • Always-on – no need to reconnect every time you want to go online
  • No data caps


  • Physical damages to the fiber can be costly to replace
  • Sensitive to bending
  • Unidirectional light propagation (only transmits information in one direction)
  • Limited availability (new and high initial cost)

Satellite Internet Connections

Satellite is a great option for areas that no other internet connection is available. This often refers to remote rural areas. It requires the use of a satellite dish.

How does it work?

In satellite internet connection the signal is sent to the satellite via a satellite dish and from satellite to NOC (Network Operation Center) retrieves data on earth, and sends it back to the satellite, and vice versa. This means the data travels about 46,000 miles (the distance between the satellite and user dish is about 23,000 miles).

This results in relatively high latency.

Average speed

Speeds are not as impressive as with some other types of internet connections. They average between 512 kbps and 20 Mbps.

Average cost

Depends on the speed and the data cap. It can be as low as $50 or as high as $150. With satellite internet, you are not able to get an unlimited data cap, which is a huge downside.


  • Great alternative for most remote areas
  • Solid speeds (compared to dial-up)


  • Limited data caps
  • Costly
  • High latency (not suitable for gaming or other live online activities)

Cellular Internet Connections

This is the internet we all use on the go. These days, most cell phones operate on 4G or even 5G networks, which offer great data speeds. As such, cellular internet connection is a quite popular option.

How does it work?

Cellular internet services use their network of underground cables to get the data to the signal tower. From the signal tower, the data is transferred using electromagnetic waves to reach individual cell phones. The signal/data also travel in the opposite direction.

Average speed

4G, which is the most widely used type of cellular network offers average download speeds of 5 – 12 Mbps and average download speeds of 2 – 5 Mbps. The top download speeds can peak at 50 Mbps. Of course, the actual speeds vary according to a specific area, provider, and amount of users in those areas. With emerging 5G network speeds can be up to 20 Gbps.

Average cost

Cellular internet connection often comes with data caps set at various levels. Even unlimited packages offer a limited amount of high-speed data. After the limit is reached, the speed offered is too slow for any serious internet use.


  • No wire needed
  • Simplicity
  • Extremely mobile (use on the go)


  • Most deals are capped
  • Unlimited packages can be costly ($70+ per line)
  • Signals are not as consistent as one would like
  • Weather affects the signal

Wi-Fi, Hotspots, and Broadband Internet Connections

Wi-Fi, Hotspots, and Broadband are commonly treated as internet connections, while they are in fact just specific types of connection.


Wi-Fi can be achieved by using basically any of the above-presented internet connections in combination with a Wi-Fi router, which transforms the wired signal into radio waves.


Hotspots are nothing but Wi-Fi internet connections, however, the hotspot uses the cellular signal to send/receive data. Most modern SIM-card based devices are able to serve as hotspots. This includes mobile phones, tables, hotspot devices (similar to Wi-Fi routers), and even smartwatches.


Broadband internet connection refers to wide bandwidth data transmission that transports multiple signals and traffic types. The medium for broadband connections can be coax cables, optical fibers, radio, or twisted pair. As such, it can come in most of the types of internet connections presented above. Generally speaking, broadband internet represents fast internet connections. According to the FCC, those speeds must be a minimum of 25 Mbps for download and 3 Mbps for upload.

Which Internet Connection Is Best for Me?

If we were forced to select one ultimate winner among all of the above types of internet connections, we would have to go with the fiber-optic. Considering all aspects, including the price, it is the best option for most users.

However, some may not be that lucky to have that connectivity option available in their area, others may find it way too fast for their needs, while some may find it too costly.

That said, finding the best internet connection for you and your needs mainly requires you to consider the following aspects: availability in your area, price, and speed requirement. When it comes to speeds and cost, consider the details provided in the previous section. As far as the coverage goes, use Google or other search engine and type ‘internet providers in (replace this with your zip code).’

Alternatively, you can use sites like broadbandnow.com, where you just enter your zip code and click the ‘search’ button. This will provide you with a list of available options in your area.

Recommended speeds for your needs:

  • Email, web surfing & online shopping on 1-2 devices: 5 – 10 Mbps
  • Email, web surfing & online shopping on 3+ devices: 10-25 Mbps
  • Streaming video in standard definition: 5-10 Mbps
  • Streaming video in HD: 10-30 Mbps
  • Online gaming, 1-2 devices: 10-25+ Mbps
  • Online gaming, 3+ devices: 25+ Mbps
  • Working from home: 40+ Mbps (if your work only requires internet for email correspondence, 5 – 10 Mbps will cover you)

How to Set up Internet Equipment

The exact steps of setting up internet equipment will vary based on the type of internet connection. For cellular, it may be as simple as turning on the hotspot, while others may require additional setups. It also depends on the provider. In some cases, a provider will do all the setup for you.

Since cable, DSL, and fiber are the most common choices, we decided to list the steps for them (they share the same action steps):

  • Get modem and router – this can be internet providers rental (in some case it may come for free but most often you will be charged a monthly fee) or you can purchase your own. We recommend getting a Wi-Fi router that will meet all your needs (also consider getting a modem that is at the same time a WiFi router).
  • Connect the modem to the cable, wire, or fiber – physically connect the wires.
  • Set up your WiFi – if you decide to get a Wi-Fi router (which we highly recommend), you will need to set up the name of the network, your password, and additional security settings (depends on the router brand and type).

If you have any difficulties setting up your internet equipment, make sure to contact your provider’s customer support, and ask for assistance.

How to Fix Slow Internet

Dealing with a slow internet connection can be really painful. Once you get used to fast internet, you cannot go back to a slow connection.

If slow internet is only occurring occasionally, it may be the consequence of peak hours or bad weather (depends on the types of internet connections). It is not much you can do about these two issues.

However, there are small tweaks you can make to speed up the process:

  • The reason for the slow internet may lie in your devices. Rebooting your modem and routers may improve the speed.
  • Check that all the cables are secured.
  • Is the issue on both, wireless and direct connection or just one? If only Wi-Fi has issues, then you know where the issue lies. Reboot the Wi-Fi router and make sure that there are not too many devices connected at the same time. Moving your device closer to the Wi-Fi router may also increase the speed.

Moreover, if you are dealing with a slow internet connection constantly, then you need to consider upgrading your package or change the provider.

Make sure to use the information provided in the previous sections to make the best choice for your needs. Keep in mind that your location will play a huge role in determining what speeds will be available to you.

If you want to knew about Internet for Rural Areas visit High-Speed Internet Solutions for Rural Areas

Internet Connections Related Others Thing You Should Know

What is internet speed and why is it important?

When using the internet all information that you try to access, whether, in form of emails, online articles, images, videos, etc., it all must reach you. If you have a fast speed (download and upload speeds to be considered), you will be able to receive and send the data much faster.

If you are using the internet for simple tasks, such as emailing, you do not need high speeds, however, if you plan on streaming HD video, you will absolutely need top speeds.

What internet speed do you need?

It depends on your needs. We do not recommend anything below 2Mbps. If you are an active user or even have several devices accessing the web, we recommend getting speeds above 25Mbps.

Is your internet service provider fast enough?

Only you can answer that question. If you have noticed that the internet speed does not meet your needs, then you need to consider upgrading your package or changing the provider.

What is the difference between ADSL and DSL?

The area several types of DSL, ADSL is just a specific type of DSL. Check the section on the DSL above.

How do I connect my tablet or other wireless devices to the internet?

Connecting wireless devices is very simple. You just need to make sure that the Wi-Fi on your device is turned on (toggle button usually accessed by swiping down the top menu). Tapping on and holding that button typically shows you available Wi-Fi connections. Choose your connection, enter the password, and connect. This is it.

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