High-speed Internet is available from a number of sources, including satellite and DSL, which is an Internet technology that utilizes telephone lines. Both services offer speeds much higher than the fastest dial-up service, and both services allow users to remain connected to the Internet at all times, rather than having to dial in when they want to connect. While both options offer better service than dial-up, each has its advantages and disadvantages.
DSL is available in homes and businesses that have copper telephone lines installed and are located within an 18,000-foot radius of an access point. Beyond this distance, the signal becomes too weak to transmit data. In addition to this limitation, some older lines cannot transmit the signal. This means DSL is not available to all people in all regions. Satellite, on the other hand, is transmitted from satellites orbiting the earth and the signal can be received by any satellite dish that has a clear line of sight to the satellite. This makes satellite Internet an ideal service for those living in remote regions where phone companies have not laid phone lines.
There are two speeds to consider when comparing Internet services, upload and download speeds. Upload speeds are typically lower than download speeds for all high-speed Internet services. This difference is suitable for typical users who download more data than they upload. For DSL, upload speeds fall between 128 and 384 Kbps and download speed is usually around 1.5 Mbps. Satellite speeds vary greatly, but the average service offers a 50 Kbps upload speed and a 500 Kbps download speed, which is one-third the speed of DSL.
It important to consider cost when comparing any high-speed Internet services. Equipment costs and installation fees, which are usually one-time investments, should also be factored into the equation. Some DSL providers offer slower versions for a lower price. DSL requires a modem, which comes with a cost as well as an installation fee. Satellite service requires a satellite modem and a small satellite dish.
The main factor influencing the reliability of satellite Internet is weather. Because the satellite dish needs a clear line of sight to the satellite, heavy cloud cover or storms can cause loss of service. Once the weather clears, service will resume. Since DSL uses the same lines as telephones, heavy phone traffic or neighbors using DSL bandwidth will slow service. Phone calls take precedence over Internet services, so in extreme cases of excessive phone usage DSL users could be locked out until traffic calms.
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