Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) is a wireline transmission technology and is the primary broadband technology employed by telephone companies (common carriers) over existing dedicated telephone lines (typically copper). With DSL, a single telephone line is used to deliver both voice and high-speed data transmission. DSL service can be asymmetrical, with different download and upload speeds, or symmetrical, with equal download and upload speeds. Speeds realized by DSL customers are affected by distance from the telephone company’s central office (CO). Customers generally cannot receive DSL if they live more than 16,000 feet (3 miles) from the nearest CO. For more detail on DSL technology, click here.
Cable modem service is a wireline broadband Internet access that is offered by your cable provider using the cable television infrastructure – the coaxial cables that are used to bring picture and sound to your television. Transmission speeds with cable can vary, but current cable technologies are capable of offering speeds of up to 100 Mbps. For more information on cable technologies, click here.
Fiber optic (fiber) technology is a wireline technology that carries data as light pulses through transparent glass strands. Fiber is capable of transmitting data at very high speeds. For more detail on fiber and fiber network architectures, click here.
Wireless service delivery is either fixed (transmission to a stationary point from a stationary point) or mobile (transmission to or from a device). Fixed wireless is usually provided by Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs), who employ networks of radios that transmit and receive broadband signals of up to 40 Mbps. Radios will be placed on single purpose towers and other high structures (e.g, water towers, grain elevators, tall buildings) and homes or businesses. For more on fixed wireless technologies, click here. For information on WiMax, click here.
Mobile Wireless or Cellular Broadband
Mobile (cellular) broadband, which includes 3G and 4G service, is generally available from mobile phone companies. Mobile broadband services provide broadband connections to mobile devices, such as smart phones and iPads, as well as to laptops through an Air Card, which plugs into the device. For more detail on approaches to mobile broadband service delivery, click here. For information on WiMax, click here.
Satellite is another form of wireless broadband provision, and often the only form in remote areas. Satellites – just as they provide cell phone and television service – provide Internet access. For more information on satellite Internet service, click here.
Broadband Over Power Lines
Broadband over power lines (BPL) is a relatively new approach that permits high-speed Internet traffic to travel down standard high-voltage power lines. As with any emerging technology, there are a number of complex issues to be addressed. The primary issue with BPL is that power lines are inherently a very noisy environment. For example, every time a device turns on or off, it introduces a pop or click into the line, and energy-saving devices often introduce noisy harmonics into the line. The system must be designed to deal with these natural signaling disruptions and work around them. On the positive side, the power line infrastructure is widespread across the country.
To see what Internet Service Providers may be available in your area be sure to check out our Interactive Map.