What is the difference between satellite, DSL, cable, and fiber internet

Trekking through the internet package jungle can be difficult and confusing. Even if you are tech savvy, you may still have questions about which type of internet connection is right for you. To help clear a path in the heavily wooded forest of internet connections, here’s some information on the difference between Satellite, DSL, cable, and Fiber Internet.


Definition: Internet connection type that involves sending a signal from the satellite dish on the user’s home to a satellite in space. Then, the space satellite transmits internet information/access to the internet service provider (ISP) hub on earth. (Talk about taking the long way around!)

Top Bandwidth: 5-25mbps

Pros: It is available everywhere on earth

Cons: Constant latency (lag), higher data caps can be extremely expensive


Definition: Internet connection type that connects via phone lines, but that transmit at a higher frequency, so the phone line isn’t tied up when the user is connected to the internet. This is different from the old dial-up connections because it allows the user to be on the internet and phone at the same time. Additionally, this is typically much faster than dial-up.

Top Bandwidth: 0.5-75mbps

Pros: Wider range of availability than fiber and cable, typically more affordable than other connection types

Cons: Generally slower than cable and fiber, upload speeds are a lot slower than download speeds


Definition: Internet connection type that connects both your tv and computer with the same (split) physical cable to your ISP’s hub. You will usually find this type of internet with known cable providers, like TWC/Spectrum. Most cable ISPs will provide a certain amount of bandwidth for a neighborhood to share. This means if you have a lot of people in your neighborhood using the internet at the same time, you will all experience latency (a lag).

Top Bandwidth: 25-300mbps

Pros: Typically faster than DSL and satellite, large range of availability in USA

Cons: Slower than fiber internet, users will experience lag during peak usage times

Fiber Internet

Definition: Internet connection type that uses glass fiber-optic cables to transmit and receive internet data. Deemed the fastest, most reliable connection on today’s market. It is also more secure due to its lack of electromagnetic frequency waves, which are used to hack into secure connection lines.

Top Bandwidth: 50-2000mbps

Pros: Fastest internet available, symmetrical speeds (same upload and download speeds)

Cons: More expensive than other types of connection, small range of availability

As you can see, each method of connection has its own pros and cons. Your internet connection decision needs to be based on your needs, budget, and location. For example, two businesses that are side-by-side in a large city, say Seattle, may decide on two different connection types. One may go with a fiber connection because that business is a call center and needs large bandwidth without any latency. The other may go with a cable connection because it is a small hardware store that has been open for 50 years and is just now transitioning into the digital age (new website, app, etc.). So, for the time being, cable internet satisfies its needs and budget.

Bottom line: My recommendation is always fiber internet if it is available in your area. Fiber is the future and many ISPs are expanding its fiber availability daily just to stay in the race. Find out if  Fiber Internet is available at your location (business and/or home fiber connections are offered by many ISPs) Checkout best Fiber internet providers like Aura Fiber, At&T or you can search on top internet directories in your area and sign up if it is available…you won’t regret it.  



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