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Cable, DSL, and Satellite are the three most popular and widely available methods of obtaining a broadband connection to the internet. Other methods such as dedicated T1 lines are very costly and reserved for large volume users such as corporations.

Below is an overview of each technology available to the private user. All three offer tremendous speed advantages over a conventional dial-up connection. Be warned, once you have experienced a high speed broadband connection, there is no going back!


Cable TV icon Cable

With their high speed, low cost, and wide availability, Cable Modems offer an "always-on" connection over the same lines used to provide Cable television services. Even if you don't subscribe to Cable TV, your provider can still hook you up to the internet although the monthly cost will usually be higher.

Speed consistency has always been the Achilles heal of Cable internet access. Since many users are sharing the same connection, the speed can drop off quite noticeably during peak usage hours. The amount of degradation is dependant upon the provider's cable infrastructure and how well the speeds are managed. Some Cable providers invest large sums of money to ensure that their infrastructure keeps pace with increasing demand, while others try to conserve money by overloading their existing systems.

All Cable providers limit the speed at which subscribers can access their systems. Typically the average speed range is somewhere between 128kbs-256kbs for uploads, and 768kbs-1.5mbs+ for downloads. Cable internet access is available in most areas serviced by Cable television providers.


DSL icon DSL

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), once exclusively used by businesses, is now widely available to residential users. DSL technology uses your existing phone line without affecting your current telephone service. A DSL Router is installed at your home which will provide your computer with an "always-on" connection to the Internet.

Residential DSL is commonly available in three speeds (upload/download) 128kbs/384Kbs, 128kbs/1.5mbs, or 384kbs/3mbs. There are even faster services available but their high cost prohibits a direct comparison with Cable and satellite. Be aware that these are maximum speed ratings and that actual speeds can vary widely depending upon your distance from the Central Office (CO). In fact, in order to get DSL your location must be within a distance of 3 cable miles from the CO. This factor severely limits the overall availability of DSL service.


Satellite Dish icon Satellite

With the introduction of DirecWay, high speed internet connectivity became a reality for the many thousands of users who are shut out of Cable or DSL service. DirecWay is the only broadband solution that is universally available to everyone in the continental United States and Puerto Rico. The only restriction is that you need a clear view of the southern sky.

It is a true 2-way system, meaning that you can transmit to as well as receive data from the space satellite. This feature completely eliminates the need for a dial-up connection and makes DirecWay an "always -on" service. At about 400-500kbs the download speed of satellite falls between that of Cable and standard DSL.

The big difference is in upload speed, where satellite is the slowest of the bunch. Typical upload speeds can vary between 50-100kbs which isn't much faster than conventional dial-up. What does such a slow upload speed mean to the average user? .. not much at all. While browsing the web, the only time you are uploading data is during page and file requests which are relatively small. The real power of broadband is required when downloading web pages and files from the internet, and that's exactly what DirecWay has been optimized for.

DirecWay is available to businesses as well. Business palns provide subscribers with higher speeds and more features than is included in their residential package.


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