What Is the Best Internet Service?

By Teresa R. Simpson

In today's technological world, Internet access is becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity. If you are considering your choices for Internet service for the first time or even for the first time in a while, you may be surprised to learn how many options are available.

History

It is fascinating to note that as recently as 1994, there were only four private companies that provided Internet access to the public. The popularity of the Internet spread quickly, though, and by early 1995 there were about 160 companies offering this access. At that time a typical home user needed a modem and a phone line to connect to the Internet. The modem would be plugged into the phone jack, and would establish a connection to the Internet service provider (ISP).

Types

Today, there are many Internet access choices available to consumers, and different companies offer different types of service including:Dial-Up--Uses a modem and a phone line.High Speed Dial-Up--This method also uses a modem and a phone line but loads web pages faster than traditional dial-up.DSL--Connects through your phone line but unlike dial-up, it uses a wire not used by your telephone. Cable--Uses a cable broadband connection to access the Internet.CDMA--Uses cellular-type technology, allowing you to connect to the Internet without lines or cables.

Features

Each type of Internet service offers its own set of pros and cons. For example, dial-up service (including high speed dial-up) is the most economical but it also provides the slowest connection to the Internet. It also ties up your telephone line. DSL is faster and frees up your phone line but typically costs more per month. In addition, DSL connection speeds can vary depending upon how close your home is to the telephone company. Cable service is faster still, but generally costs a little more than DSL. Wireless CDMA service is a fast and convenient choice. Unfortunately, it is also the most costly one.

Considerations

To pick the best service to fit your needs, you should first identify your needs. Do you simply want to send and receive email from time to time? If so, dial-up might be a good choice. Do you want to surf the Internet, check the weather or even do a little shopping? DSL might be right for you. If you are planning to play a lot of games, frequently upload photos or watch videos, cable access will provide you with the speed you need. On the other hand, if you travel a lot or work from your laptop, you may want to pay a little more for the convenience of CDMA.

Expert Insight

Internet service doesn't come in a one-size-fits-all package. Cable Internet companies such as Comcast and Cox offer various speeds of connectivity. DSL companies such as AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon do the same. In each case, the faster the speed, the higher the price. Keep in mind that you may never use all the bandwidth that the highest speed tier provides. For that reason, it is a good idea to start out with a cheaper speed tier and upgrade later, if necessary.