It is easier than ever to get online. In fact, the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project estimates that in 2009 more than 60 percent of adults have Internet access at home. Yet, there is still confusion about the best way to get online. Many methods are available, including DSL, cable, Wi-Fi and dial-up. Each uses different standards and methods of access. For a computer owner considering buying a broadband access card, however, the choices can be easily narrowed down to two: DSL (or Digital Subscriber Line) versus wireless.
Access to broadband Internet service means one thing: speed. DSL and wireless connections are the two most prevalent methods for high-speed Internet access. The service in your area largely determines the speed, however. Services can range from 1 megabyte-per-second on the slow end of the spectrum to as much as 80 megabytes-per-second in large urban areas.
With DSL service, you are guaranteed a stable and reliable connection because your computer will be hard-wired to the network. Several factors can interrupt wireless access including weather and the use of other electronic devices in the vicinity of the computer you are using. This is because wireless relies on short-wave radio transmissions, which are susceptible to microwave radiation and other communication systems.
Ease of Use
DSL is generally simpler when it comes to installation and use. Wireless networks rely on an extra layer of protocols compared to DSL. You only need to set up a broadband router and your computer's own network settings in order to get yourself up and running with DSL. Setting up wireless access requires those steps in addition to establishing a wireless hub with proper settings for maintaining a secure network. That can be time consuming and potentially fraught with errors.
Of course, speed and consistency are not the only considerations to take into account when thinking about broadband access cards. Portability is one area where wireless provides greater flexibility than DSL. With wireless Internet access, there are no cables or cords to worry about. Especially with more people choosing to work on laptops and mobile devices, wireless is becoming a more robust choice for broadband access. Price is also a consideration. DSL and wireless cards themselves are largely comparable, however, with each type of card costing anywhere from $6 to $600, as of the time of publication.
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