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Comparing Broadband Internet Options: Which is Best for You?

Comparing Broadband Internet Options: Which is Best for You?

When it comes to choosing the color for your home’s roof shingles this is a major decision that no one ever underestimates. You’re more than aware of the fact that this is an element of your household that you choose once and have to watch on a regular basis. So, people take months planning and choosing between hues and nuances.

The problem lies in the fact that, while this is a major decision, it’s much less consequential than you think. After a while, the difference between similar hues disappears and when you get used to it, you won’t even notice the difference.

However, your internet speed is something that you’ll have to deal with on a daily basis. After all, you use it every day (most of the day), which means that it affects you in a major way. Still, while home exterior elements are chosen carefully and meticulously, researched over weeks, and carefully weighed upon, a lot of people just pick the first option they see as “decent.”

In order to avoid making this mistake (as well as setting your priorities straight), here are a few broadband internet options you have to take into consideration. 

1. Check local availability

The first thing you want to do is check what kind of options you have locally. You see, it all comes down to infrastructure. It goes without saying that fiber internet is the fastest and the most reliable. In fact, when you start a fiber vs. broadband comparison, you’ll quickly learn that fiber dominates in every metric.

There are just two downsides, one minor and one insurmountable. 

  • First, fiber internet is slightly more expensive than its broadband counterparts. Sure, when you compare the cost-effectiveness, it’s more than worth it, however, it’s still a greater up-front cost and a lot of people just can’t handle this. 
  • The second (insurmountable) problem is the fact that there’s not that much infrastructure. There are a lot of areas where you just have no access to fiber internet. Unlike DSL and cable internet, which operate on phone line infrastructure and cable TV infrastructure (respectively). 

This means that you have to start by checking if you even can get fiber internet. If not, go with something like cable internet and if even that’s unavailable, for whatever reason, go with DSL. Now, if you’re living in a remote area with no access to other types of connection, you should look for satellite internet options.

2. Look for the optimal speed

The next thing you need to understand are the differences between these connection types. Now, it’s important that you understand how these things work. Namely, you need to keep in mind that you don’t have to understand how internet works in order to use it.

However, you need to understand internet speeds in order to be able to choose the right connection for your home. For instance:

  • DSL: Up to 100 Mbps download speed. 
  • Satellite: Up to 150 Mbps download speed (with Starlink reaching up to 200 Mbps). 
  • Cable: Up to 1,000 Mbps download speed.
  • Fiber: Up to 6,000 Mbps download speed.

Now, in the next section, we’ll discuss how much you need for each of these online activities. One of the things you need to keep in mind while making these calculations is the fact that more than one person will browse the internet at the same time. So, always keep this multiplier in mind. 

It’s also worth mentioning that, while the costs grow with the internet speed, the costs are not linear nor exponential. It’s not like you pay 10x more for cable internet than you would for DSL or 600x more for fiber. The costs are scaling pretty well in your favor. It’s now just about the availability of fiber. Thanks to modern urban planning, more and more areas have fiber infrastructure included. 

3. What are your specific needs?

This piece of the puzzle is often misunderstood. Namely, if you live in an area without access to fiber internet, you need to be careful about the speed that your ISP is providing. 

First, you need to take into consideration what kind of activity you’ll be performing most often. Each of these activities requires a specific bandwidth in order to function properly. For instance:

  • In order to send emails, all you need is 1 Mbps.
  • Web browsing takes between 3-5 Mbps, but you would, ideally, have at least 5-10 Mbps.
  • Browsing social media can be done with as little as 3-5 Mbps connection; however, for a smooth and pleasant browsing experience, you want at least 10 Mbps.
  • Video calls can be made with 3-5 Mbps, but the quality of the video and sound will not be very satisfactory. For this to work smoothly, you need at least 10-20 Mbps. 
  • HD streaming will, on paper, work even with 5-10 Mbps, however, you want to have at least 10-20 Mbps.
  • Online gaming requires 3-6 Mbps to run but if you want it to run lag-free, you need, at least, 25-35 Mbps. 
  • Lastly, 5K streaming will take, at least 25 Mbps to 35 Mbps. The more you have, the better.

So, one of the first things you need to do is figure out exactly what you’ll be using this connection for. Be honest and be realistic. Otherwise, you don’t stand much of a chance at having a positive experience. 

Then, you need to think about the consistency. For instance, when it comes to cable internet, some providers resort to throttling during peak hours. If these peak hours are when you spend most of the time on the internet, streaming, or doing your work remotely, this could be a problem. 

Wrap up

The bottom line is simple – if your ISP has fiber internet on offer, just get it. It’s worth it. Unless you’re someone who just uses the platform for social media and YouTube, this is always the best call. Even then, if you want to watch videos in 4K, going with fiber will be worth it. Sure, the increase in cost is a bit higher than some people are comfortable with, but this is merely an issue of managing your expectations of what your internet bill should be like.

Written by Marcus Richards

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