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The Differences of Fiber, Satellite, Cable, and DSL Internet Explained

Sept. 7, 2022
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Many people are aware that various kinds of internet services exist. People are often less aware of the difference between each type of internet and whether they are available in their area. Every type of internet, besides satellite, uses physical wires to bring connectivity to a home or business. Fiber internet is one of the newest types of internet and may not be available in some locations.

There are some key differences between the kinds of internet available, and you should know what they are before you choose. The selection that you make can significantly impact your user experience. In limited parts of the US, there is access to all of these internet options, but in most locations, you will only have access to a couple of them. You will still need to know which is the best fit for your needs so that you are not selecting blindly and hoping for the best.

Keep reading if you are ready to learn more about the differences between fiber, satellite, cable, and DSL!

The Different Types of Internet Services

There are currently four kinds of internet that you can choose from. In some areas, you will not have access to all of these options, and you might be reduced to choosing between two of them — or having no choice at all. There are some basic pros and cons associated with each of these kinds of internet, but let's define each type of internet before discussing the pros and cons of selecting it for your needs.

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· Fiber Internet

Fiber internet is delivered through fiber optic lines. This is the fastest, most stable, and most effective way to provide quality internet to your home. True fiber internet offers equally fast upload and download speeds compared to other internet connections. Fiber is unique due to its ability to provide symmetrical upload and download speeds. This delivers internet that does not have issues with lag, buffering, or quickly transferring even the largest files.

· Satellite Internet

Satellite internet is delivered to your home through a satellite orbiting the earth. You will have a satellite dish in your yard or affixed to your home that captures the signal and transmits it into your home. Satellite internet is often slow compared to other delivery methods and can have issues positioning the satellite and line of sight to your home. Satellite internet can sometimes be expensive, and if you are not located where the shot to the satellite is good, you might have problems with jitter.

· Cable Internet

With cable, your internet is delivered to you through the same coax cables that provide your TV signal. Cable internet is widely available and can offer a faster connection speed than DSL and satellite. You can choose from various levels of packages with most providers and will pay more or less depending on the speed you select. Cable is often the most flexible option for those within city limits other than here in Chattanooga. When fiber is not available, it is the best choice for high-speed internet.

· DSL Internet

This is a lower-bandwidth option than cable, delivered through a phone line. This is a fiber-to-node infrastructure in most cases because this method reduces the distance that phone lines must be run to a connection point. DSL is only really selected by those that live in a location that cannot get access to Fiber or cable internet. DSL used to be the only option for everyone, and while it seems like a relic from the past in most areas, it can be the only viable solution for users that live in very remote areas.

What Type of Internet is the Best Choice?

Various factors might define which internet option is the best for your needs. Not everyone is looking for the same internet experience, and you might not need the same access as someone else does. Location can play a big part in what is available to you, so you will need to look into what internet you can access in your area. Below are the most common factors that help people determine which of these services is the right one for their needs.

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Internet Speed & Latency

When considering speed, fiber is the right choice to make every time. Fiber’s symmetrical upload and download speeds make it the best choice for those who want to game, stream to various devices at the same time, and enjoy a seamless internet experience. Cable is likely your next best option since it will offer you good speeds and relatively limited latency. It will never be as fast or as seamless a connection as fiber but will suffice for basic connectivity needs.

Satellite and DSL are the least favorable options regarding speed, and these are the two choices offered to people who cannot get access to better choices. Both DSL and satellite will provide you with a similar speed experience. Still, the reality is that some areas will only be able to access satellite, and some will only be able to access DSL. The limitations of your choices in these areas will often dictate which of the two you select rather than any preference related to speed.

Internet Cost

In most cases, cable and fiber internet are the most cost-effective options for your needs. DSL might be cheaper in some areas, but it is also associated with slower speeds, and you are likely to be locked into a contract for a long time, whether you want to be or not. Cable internet providers may also lock you into long-term contracts but it can be a cost-effective solution when fiber isn’t available, and you can bundle it with your TV package. Satellite can be expensive, and it is often the least attractive option for your needs unless you just do not have access to any other kind of internet where you live.

However, in the case of the cost compared to effectiveness, fiber is always your best choice. With this choice, you will have access to symmetrical upload and download speeds. You will never have to worry about streaming, video chatting, or any other kind of online interaction being slow or lagging. Gamers are always inclined to choose this connection option because of its performance. Fiber can give you access to symmetrical upload and download speeds, greatly increasing your internet’s speed and performance without breaking the bank.

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Pros & Cons of Fiber, Satellite, Cable, and DSL Internet Options

Cable Internet Pros

  • Readily available
  • Stable and offers good speeds
  • Affordable when bundled with a TV plan
  • Can choose from various speeds in different packages at different costs

Cable Internet Cons

  • Not available in some more rural locations
  • Can experience throttling of speeds during peak use times
  • Will likely have to sign a contract that includes TV you don’t want just to get higher speed packages

Fiber Internet Pros

  • The fastest connection option with symmetrical upload and download speeds
  • Easy to get set up
  • Affordable
  • Speed not impacted by distance from ISP
  • Future-proof technology
  • Very reliable

Fiber Internet Cons

  • Not readily available yet around the country
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Satellite Internet Pros

  • Available even in remote areas
  • Does not require access to lines or wires to deliver it
  • Faster than dial-up

Satellite Internet Cons

  • Slower speeds
  • Data limits
  • Geographical issues related to the line of sight to a satellite

DSL Internet Pros

  • Affordable
  • Readily available in many locations
  • Access is through a dedicated connection

DLS Internet Cons

  • Slow speeds
  • Has issues with storm and weather impeding signal
  • Contracts are long and not often favorable

What is the Best Type of Internet Service for Me?

The best type of internet for your needs might have a lot to do with your location. Not every location in the country has access to all of these types of internet access, so you might only be able to choose between one or two of these types of internet access. The difference between access in rural areas and access in cities is significant, and the question of which type of internet to pick is more complex when you do not live well outside of a city.

Satellite and DSL are often the best and only choices for those away from town. DSL will often be the only choice in most cases for those that live in mountainous areas due to issues with getting a shot at the satellite. DSL might also be more affordable than satellite in some rural areas and easier to access overall.

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When you live in a city, you will likely have the choice between cable and fiber. This is a nice position since you will have access to the two most favorable options on this list. If you want to stream on many devices, spend a lot of time in video calls or chats, or are a gamer, fiber is always the best bet for your needs. Cable will not offer you consistent speeds like fiber, and you will not get access to symmetrical uploads and downloads with cable internet access.

The question of cost might figure into your choice, but fiber is very affordable, and it is often cheaper than cable, which has to be paid for along with a TV package. Taken alone, your cable internet might not cost you that much, but you need to remember that you are paying for TV to get access to the internet.

Fiber internet is one of the best choices for people who work at home, for students who are going to school online, and for people who enjoy streaming and want to do so without buffering issues or throttling problems during peak times of the day. Fiber internet is always the best option for your needs compared with other choices, and you should consider this your best bet for a seamless and effective internet connection.

EPB Gives You Access to the Fastest Internet Available

If you are ready to choose to switch to fiber, EPB is ready to help! You will get access to internet speeds that are 10x faster than other providers, and you never have to sign a contract. There are no data caps, lag, or throttling issues, and no surprise fees when working with EPB for your fiber internet needs.

EPB makes it simple to choose their service with free residential installation and access to EPB Tech Pros support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Gig plan for just $67.99/month offers you access to 1,000 Mbps for both uploads and downloads, and you will never have to worry about lag, buffering, or download issues ever again!

If you are ready to switch to The Gig, contact EPB today!

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