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Internet Connectivity Methods Explained

There are a host of different broadband connectivity methods to the Internet that we've used to link to the outside world. Many of these terms and concepts have been around for a couple of decades. However, they remain in daily parlance as a way of describing different speeds and features of connectivity. What I'll be doing is describing a few of them below:

What is Dialup?

Dialup was in mid to late 90s the primary means through which an individual would connect to the Internet. It reached out to the Internet via a standard POTS telephone landline that most people had in their homes and offices at that time. A user purchased a modem attached to their computer and dialed an Internet Service Provider who connected their computer online. It was not always-on generally speaking, as it often shared the phone line with voice. Also, it was extremely slow. The official speeds ranged from 56Kbps to at most 2-3 times faster using compression technologies.

What is Broadband?

This was the term given for the next generation of Internet connectivity that relied on an always-on connection to the Internet at a speed far greater than that provided previously. It is technology agnostic. In other words it can refer to a whole host of types of connectivity, including T1, Cable, Fibre Optic, DSL, and others.

What is DSL?

This was one of the first broadband offerings that emerged in the late 90's, providing Internet connectivity at a variety of faster rates than what was provided before. Often, it provided a static IP address to its users as well, allowing them to host their own servers on their own premises much more easily. Data speeds ranged from 256Kbps to 100Mpbs.

What is Fibre?

This is the next-generation of offerings provided by telcos that used optical cables to send data to-and-fro. These cables allowed far faster data transmission rates with speeds that ranged from 50Mpbs to 500Mbps. The technology has been around for decades. However, it was since the mid 2000's that prices have come far enough to be affordable to setup for homes and small businesses.

What is WiFi?

WiFi, as opposed to the technologies discussed earlier, provides local area connectivity. It provides a wireless signal that allows a user's computer, tablet, or smartphone to connect to a router located up to a couple of hundred feet away. From that router the signal is converted into a signal that involves Fibre, DSL, or other technology.

These different definitions can hopefully provide you a context for the evolution of Internet connectivity over the last two decades. This can help you appreciate current connectivity methods, as well as provide foundation for future connectivity methods as well.

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