What Is the Difference Between Broadband, DSL, and Wireless?

By Matt Koble

There are many methods of connecting to the Internet available to consumers, and it can be a bit confusing figuring out which is best for your specific situation. Broadband, DSL and wireless Internet are three different types of Internet connections. Basically, a broadband Internet connection is used to connect your DSL modem to the Internet, sometimes on a wireless network.


Broadband is most commonly used when referring to a high-speed Internet connection that utilizes fiber optic cables, as opposed to a phone line connection using a 56k modem. Unlike dial-up services, broadband Internet is always "on" and readily accessible as long as your computer is set up to receive it correctly. Broadband is a technology that allows for faster Internet, but is not a specific product or device, rather something these devices use to access this high speed.


Wireless Internet is simply Internet your computer connects to without the use of any wires. Wireless Internet signals can vary in strength based on many factors. Distance from the router, type of service, and your computer's wireless capabilities can all play a part in the effectiveness and speed of your wireless network connection. Wireless Internet is often utilized with DSL or cable connections, as they're fast enough to allow for connections without the use of wires.


DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is a technology used to connect to the Internet. DSL often utilizes broadband and even wireless connectivity to allow it to work faster and better than the competition. DSL utilizes phone lines to transfer information at high speeds, using hardware that allows the phone line to remain free during use, unlike with dial-up connections. DSL is usually more pricey than dial-up for its added features and speed, but it is worth the price because it brings up web pages quickly.


Aside from being able to use the phone without getting disconnected, you'll also be able to instantly start the Internet using broadband; there is no waiting for a slow connection as with dial-up. The most obvious and biggest advantage is the speed boost over dial-up. These technologies in tandem with each other allow for a very fast connection and more freedom to move around, as the connection is wireless.


A cable Internet connection is the main alternative to DSL service. According to high-speed-internet-access-guide.com, while cable usually costs more, it also allows for a faster Internet connection in most cases. Though not quite as secure of a connection as DSL, cable offers a pretty secure connection with a larger coverage range than DSL. If you happen to live outside of an area covered by either cable or DSL, you may consider satellite broadband. This technology allows Internet connections to get to places connections previously couldn't reach.