There are many different types of Internet services globally to get you connected to the World Wide Web. This is a heated topic today, especially now due to the COVID-19 pandemic and many working or learning from home. The Internet has become central to our lives – including its importance in staying connected with family and friend, let alone its reliance for work and studies. So, what are the different options when it comes to ‘connecting’ to the Internet and getting it for your residence or your business or event ‘mobile’ while on-the-go? Let's start with residential services, that is Internet at our home or dwelling: there is essentially three different types of services you can get for your personal residence that are somewhat prevalent and available in our northern communities, while there are other service offerings where, if you are living in a rural area may be one of the only options to consider. Let's go through the different types of connectivity for Internet services.
First, let us start with what the acronym ‘ISP’ (Internet Service Provider). Not all ISPs have the same availability on the different types of connections. Some have limited service offerings (Satellite and DSL providers may not typically offer other options depending on where you live). ISPs are the companies that sell/resell the services that you are wanting to get, and generally hold the property rights to the lines, towers and so forth that you are connecting to. Not much different than a cellular service provider: you register with one that allows you to get coverage, not all providers are everywhere and that is a partial reason why some have service while others do not. The role of an ISP is are that they are responsible for making sure your residence can access the Internet, routing the internet traffic, and maintaining the infrastructure that makes it possible to access the internet. While there are other responsibilities, your ISPs are the ones that connect you to the internet.
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is probably the more widely known to us of of the internet connections types especially in our region as it was one of the first methods of connecting homes and businesses to the internet without installing new cables to the buildings. This connection comes into your home over copper wires with terminate to your landline telephone jack. Having a landline phone is no longer the standard for this type of connection, especially with the prevalence of mobile devices. While this connection is widely available and relatively inexpensive compared to others (depending on where you live) there are negatives associated with it:
Speeds are dependent on the proximity to the distribution point (i.e. the telephone companies switching and routing equipment) hence why in hotels or a larger home you experience longer load times and more “lag” (there is network congestion and delays accessing the data you are downloading).
Some ISPs have implemented data caps
Typically, the speeds are on the lower end of the spectrum and do not generally achieve the new 50/10 Mbps target speeds
If you have multiple land lines or phone jacks, you may experience some problems with interference and busy lines as they share the same type of connection that goes into your phone – even when digital filters are installed on the ‘voice’ devices connected to the various jacks
Broadband Cable Internet is another type of connection which is also widely available as a connectivity option. This type of services comes through the same coaxal cable as a local TV provider. Typically, this type of connection is available through service providers that offer both television options and Internet - only 1 coaxial cable would be needed to enter your home (same as DSL but different types of cabling and install). This method is a little more reliable than a DSL connection, as with DSL multiple phone jacks in your home and in use can cause an interference therefore would need filters to be installed. As with DSL there are a few negativities associated with Cable Internet as well:
While the speeds are greater than those achieved with DSL services, the service speeds experience may be reduced, especially during peak hours if you and your family are online and watching TV it may become slower, competing for the bandwidth available to your street or neighborhood.
Not available in all areas, especially smaller communities, or rural areas within our catchment
Initial connectivity fees may be higher if installation is required, if you have an older home or never had newer municipal cable, there may be an installation that needs to take place.
Fiber-Optic Connection, likely one of the better choices available to areas which are connected in this matter, the speeds surpass those of the previously mentioned networks. This type of network is similar to that of cable on how it enters your home, but it is not with a copper coaxal cable, this connection is made using tiny glass fiber filaments that create the connection point to your router, whereas the Optic in the name refers to the way that the data is transferred to and from your home using light signals. Here are some negatives associated with Fiber Optic Internet:
Not available in all areas, typically larger centres
Higher price tag associated with the service
Not all providers carry or offer this service
Requires a specialized installation
Satellite Internet, primarily a connectivity option for those that live or have more rural communities. This option makes it possible for those that live in rural or remote areas to still connect to the internet, this type of connection typically involves a main connection point from the ISP which transmits data from an orbiting satellite then routes it to your home dish/receiver. While this makes it possible to connect, there are more limitations that are involved such as low bandwidth especially depending on the distance between your residence and the ISP’s dish, other negatives also include:
Weather affecting the signal path (snow, rain, wind) also with space weather (solar flares)
Poor latency – this is the delay that it takes to send and receive information
Obstructions like trees, other dwellings, rocks all can play a factor in receiving the signal
Bandwidth limitations, some have limited service levels therefore you will have a metered data allowance, also on the note of Bandwidth limitations having multiple devices at once may be a challenge.
Fixed Wireless Internet used radio signals rather than satellite signals to provide you with connectivity from a base station. Your ISP will install a receiver on your home, which connects with the base station, similar to a Satellite internet connection, but the largest difference is that it uses radio waves. This is another connectivity solution for rural dwellings where the cost of infrastructure is higher, and this can be a solution rather than satellite. With every method of connectivity there are also some downsides:
The largest is that the connection as similar to satellite is susceptible to not having a stable connection, especially during weather changes such as rain and fog among other weather conditions.
There requires to be a line of site between the receiver and the base station, obstructions such as trees, buildings, and rocks can impact your service levels.
The price point is generally higher than other forms of internet connections
Mobile Wireless Internet is a broadband internet connection that uses the same signals as your mobile device to provide wireless internet to your devices. These include Hot-Spot devices, turbo hubs and turbo sticks that are available through your cellular provider. There is more significant negativities that are associated with this type of connection such as:
It can be costly especially with overages, or going over into another tier of data availability
You are subjected to being able to use the device to connect other devices if they have cellular services in the area so using in their coverage area
It is generally more of a stable connection opposed to other methods of broadband internet solutions, but at the mercy of the cellular provider
While many of us are limited to the options when it comes to Broadband Internet, there could be some enhanced offerings depending on your ISP. As new technologies are developed, having a secure and consistence access to Internet is a necessity that the Canadian Government has determined as a basic service that should be available to all.