Internet Connections

Methods of connecting to the Internet

The way you connect to the Internet is defined by access speed. There are a number of different methods. We will discuss each, starting with the slowest.


Relative Speeds

Table 1: Relative Internet connection speeds


Dial-up Internet access

Dial-up Internet access is basically an analog access method using the standard telephone system with a maximum theoretical speed of 64,000 bits per second (bps). Typically the fastest actual access speed is closer to 52,000 bps.

If all you do is email and the occasional web site, a dial-up Internet access is sufficient.

In the early days of the public Internet (1970-1990) most users accessed through this method with Internet Service Providers (ISP's) like Compuserve, Prodigy, WebTV, AOL and Mindspring (now EarthLink).

With today's media rich Internet dial-up is not able to provide sufficient access speed.


Broadband Internet access

To provide faster access Broadband became popular in the early 1990's with ISDN service from the local telephone company.

ISDN provided speeds of about 144,000 bps and was soon replaced by more efficient methods providing even greater speeds.


Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Internet Service

The Digital Subscriber Line or DSL replaced ISDN in the mid 1990's and is now one of the most popular Internet Access Methods. DSL typically provides Internet access of 1,500,000 bps to 4,000,000 bps.

DSL is available from AT&T, here in Atlanta and can be found on the Internet at

Part of the agreement between the State of Georgia and AT&T for the purchase of BellSouth was to provide DSL without a telephone number. Bellsouth only provided DSL as an addition to telephone service.Because of the agreement AT&T offers DSL without a telephone number for around $20 per month.

The speed you achieve with a DSL Internet connection is dependent on distance from the closest DSLAM. Generally if you are within 60,000 feet with copper wire service will get excellent results. AT&T is actively laying fiber optic cable

around the country to improve DSL service even more. Those big orange cables being laid all over are fiber optic cables.


Cable Internet Service

Not to be out done local cable companies began offering Internet service in order to entice customers into the lucrative cable based telephone service. Cable Internet Access uses the existing broadband CATV cable and adds Internet access using a cable modem attached between a cable jack and your computer or or router.

In the Atlanta area cable Internet service is provided by:

If you are not in the Atlanta area, you can locate your local U.S. cable Internet provider here.

Cable Internet service provides speeds up to 32,000,000 bps.


T-1 and T-3 Internet Service

T-1 Internet Service is a formerly popular service with businesses. It provided Internet service at only 1,500,000 bps at a high price. Cable and DSL now provide faster service at a lower price. T-1 is rapidly becoming obsolete.

T-3 service provide Internet access at speeds up to 44,736,000 bps, slightly faster than cable and it is still used by large companies.


VoIP Telephone Service

If you opt for DSL or other broadband Internet without telephone service, there are services available on the Internet to provide you with a telephone number. The telephone companies have been charging you to place long distance calls for years using the Internet.

These serves with their web sites are:

VoIP will not work with old telephones that require an 18 volt ring signal. That's the old phones with an actual bell to provide a ring. Any phone manufactured in the last 20 years does not have a bell.

There are many factors that affect a broadband connection speed. If you think that you are not getting the speed you have paid for, go to Speednet and check your actual connection speed.

For a good description of the differences in connections see this short YouTube video.

That's about all that can be taught on Internet Connections. It's more of a field for Electrical Engineers.