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The Internet Speed Showdown. Which one is right for you?


There was a time when dial-up internet was all we had. These days, we’ve progressed to something called broadband. In a nutshell, broadband is high-speed internet service that’s always on and faster than the old dial-up service. DSL, cable, fiber and satellite all fall under the broadband category.

One factor to consider when deciding which connection is right for you is the speed. Which is the fastest? For that matter, which broadband connection speed is the slowest?

Before we get to that, it’s good to know how internet speed is measured. Every web page, image and video you view on the web comes to your home computer as small pieces of data, also known as packets. The speed of these packets on the world-wide web to your home computer is measured in megabits per second or Mbps. One megabit equals roughly 1,000 kilobits (Kbps).

Dial-up internet, for example, offers the slowest connection speed available with around 56 Kbps. At such slow speeds, you’re very limited on what you can access online. In fact, less than 3% of Americans still use dial-up.

Digital Subscriber Line, better known as DSL, is similar to dial-up in that they both use telephone lines. Unlike dial-up, it doesn’t affect your land-line phone service and has much faster speeds. Customers can expect speeds ranging from 128 Kbps to 30 Mbps. DSL is faster than dial-up but slow compared to other alternatives like fiber.

Cable broadband comes from your cable provider. It utilizes the same coaxial cables used to deliver a video signal to your TV and can deliver connection speeds ranging from 1.5 to 300 Mbps.

Satellite broadband internet relies on satellites orbiting thousands of miles above the earth’s surface, and you’ll need a satellite dish to access them. When you do an internet search or click on a link, the connection goes from your home to the satellite and then to your service provider. With satellite, you can expect speeds in the 12 to 100 Mbps range. Slower than DSL and cable, but faster than dial-up internet.

Something new to the satellite world is Starlink, a venture by SpaceX owned by billionaire Elon Musk. At the time of this blog, Starlink is still in a beta test phase and is available to a limited number of users. In June, SpaceX reported to have roughly 1,800 satellites in orbit and that number is growing. According to the Starlink website, during this beta phase, users can expect to see data speeds ranging from 50 to 150 Mbps, but those numbers may increase as more satellites are launched and more ground stations are built.

You’ve likely heard about 5G, or fifth generation cellular technology. This technology uses radio waves for sending and receiving data. Speeds for 5G range from 50 Mbps to more than a gigabit per second (Gbps). It’s faster than the previous connections mentioned, but it’s not without drawbacks. 5G depends on a cellular connection and cellular towers, which means if you’re not within range, or there are obstructions in the way, your connection could suffer.

Last but certainly not least is fiber. Fiber-optic internet sends data via streams of light through glass fibers about the diameter of a human hair. The light travels extremely well over long distances of cable with low attenuation and distortion. Fiber internet far surpasses DSL and cable in terms of speed and reliability. Bandera Electric Cooperative offers several fiber plans to choose from, starting at 100 Mbps for residential customers.

Now that you’re all caught up on speeds, the next step is to pick a service and plan that’s right for you.
To view BEC’s plans and pricing, visit BanderaElectric.com/Fiber.


Posted: 8/24/2021 5:15:35 PM
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