Types of ISPs

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have several types of connectivity options for the Internet. Each ISP is different in that the company provides a different type of connectivity protocol and speed. Most ISPs are cable or DSL, but other options are available for small, rural areas. It's important to analyze your individual needs before deciding on an ISP.

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Although it's painfully slow, dialup access is still a necessity for small, rural areas. ISPs offer dialup access in these areas. A dialup ISP requires the user to have a modem for Internet access. The user dials a phone connection using a telephone number, connects to a remote server, and uses the telephone connection to browse websites.


DSL is normally offered by the local phone company. DSL is a technology that uses the "extra" signals not used by telephone signals. These "extra" signals make DSL usage available even during times when the phone is ringing or people are using the telephone access. DSL uses a DSL router that connects using a telephone cable to a phone jack.


Cable is offered by the local cable company in the user's neighborhood. Cable Internet access is available by connecting a cable router to the computer and connecting to a designated jack. Cable ISPs are usually faster, especially in areas where there is not much usage. Cable connections are shared by neighbors, which differs from DSL, so cable access speed is dependent on the amount of traffic from other neighborhood users.

Wi-Fi Access

Wi-Fi is wireless Internet access. It's used by laptops and offered freely by many hotels and coffee shops. Wi-Fi can also be installed in the home for people who have desktops and laptops networked. Wi-Fi is not as quick as DSL or Cable, but it's a more convenient ISP service.


Satellite access is offered for people who are not able to receive DSL or Cable options. Satellite access is very quick download speeds, but upload speeds are used through a modem, which is very slow. This type of ISP connection is used by people in very rural areas who have no other broadband connection.