Internet Connections For Everyone's Needs

Chances are if you own a computer, you're connected to the Internet. But with so many ways to get on line from dial up to DSL, is the connection you have the right speed for you. It all depends on what you're doing online. Each of those connections has different pros and cons, ranging from price to speed.

Think about it this way: The Interstate system is a lot like the information superhighway. The more lanes you have, the faster traffic can flow. Fewer lanes, means you could have some congestion. In the same sense, the kind of Internet connection you have determines how many lanes you have open for data to stream in and out of your computer.

Dial-up Internet service is equivalent to a two-lane street. It uses your phone line and the fastest you can go is 56 kilobits per second. It's also the cheapest at 10 to 25 dollars a month depending on your Internet service provider. If all you do is check e-mail and share pictures, a general dial-up connection is going to suffice your Internet needs.

DSL stands for "Digital Subscriber Line," and it's like an 8-lane expressway into your home. Data travels over DSL at about 1400 kilobits per second, but it costs about 40 to 50 dollars a month. And installation can tack on another one time fee of $100. DSL also uses your phone line, which is why you'll need special equipment to make sure your calls don't cross onto the net.

Greg Derbes, with Nerdworks Computing, says for each phone you have in the house, you will have to add a filter.

Cable Internet service is generally about the same speed as DSL. However, the bigger wire gives you the potential to receive data as fast 10,000 kilobits per second. It also costs between 40 and 50 dollars per month with a one time installation charge of about $100.

Derbes says, "If you want to compare speeds between dial up, cable and DSL, it's about the difference between throwing a bullet and shooting a bullet."

Your computer uses a modem for dial up service. You likely already have one. But if you don't, they're easy to find at any electronics store and cost about $20. For cable and DSL, you'll need a special modem that you can either buy for about $100 or rent from your provider for $10 a month.

Derbes says you probably also need an Ethernet Card. You can either have an external or internal Ethernet Card. Both are fairly easy to hook up and if you have professional installation, they'll generally even provide the card for you.

Another plus to cable or DSL is that more than one computer can share that Internet connection. All you have to do is plug the networking cable from the cable or DSL modem into a router. And then plug both of the computers into that router.

There are other forms of high-speed Internet for your home, like Direcway Satellite. But that's a bit pricey, $100 a month. Derbes says you should only consider that route if you can't get any other form of Internet connection.