With the various choices in broadband Internet service on the market today, you can be faced with a dizzying array of options. While you often have many questions about the different Internet options, the ultimate question is typically the same: how fast is it? While satellite Internet has certain advantages over DSL, speed isn't one of them.
What Is DSL?
DSL is one form of high-speed, broadband Internet service. DSL delivers content digitally across existing networks of copper telephone lines and wires. Depending on the service provider and your plan, DSL can be symmetrical -- where download and upload speeds are the same -- or asymmetrical -- where download speeds are faster than upload speeds.
What Is Satellite?
Satellite Internet, like DSL, is a form of high-speed, broadband Internet service. But instead of transmitting data over lines and wires, satellite Internet delivers data using a provider's satellite or satellites orbiting the Earth. That data is then sent to and received from customers who have a satellite dish installed. Satellite Internet can be expensive to obtain, due to the potential need to purchase a satellite dish and a satellite modem. But due to the nature of its form of transmission, satellite Internet is often available in rural areas and other locations where DSL isn't.
Although not the fastest form of broadband Internet, DSL is quite fast. The speed of a DSL connection can vary, however, based upon many factors: the service provider and plan, your distance from the service provider's facilities and even the time of day. DSL can be slower at times of peak usage. DSL speeds can thus vary from a few hundred kilobits per second -- several hundred thousand bits per second -- to several megabits -- millions of bits -- per second. The average DSL speed in the U.S. is currently around 10Mbps for downloads and 3Mbps for uploads, as of 2011.
Satellite Internet speeds are generally much slower than DSL speeds. While satellite Internet speeds, like DSL speeds, can vary, the average satellite Internet speed in the United States is about 1Mbps for downloads and 200Kbps -- 0.2Mbps -- for uploads. This difference in speed will primarily be noticeable in the transfer times for large downloads and uploads, such as movies, or large numbers of photos or songs. But because of the distances the data must travel, satellite Internet also typically involves a delay from click to response of around three-quarters of a second, which can make online gaming difficult or unworkable.
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