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Different Types of Internet Connections

Whether you’re setting up your first home, or aiming to reduce buffering during movie nights, knowing about the various types of internet connections can greatly help. There are many types, from old-school dial-up to super-fast fiber optics, each with its own benefits and downsides.

In this beginner’s guide, let us take a brief look at different types of Internet Connections. First, we will see some basic terminology associated with the Internet. After that, we will understand currently available as well as slightly outdated types of Internet Connections.

What Is An Internet?

Internet is a large network of computers from all around the World. Technically, it is a network of networks where a bunch of computers communicate with each other. in order to communicate, they must be connected somehow. This is where the networking devices, fiberoptic cables, etc. on the hardware side and different protocols (TCP/IP being the important one) on the software side come into play.

With the help of this combination of hardware and software we are able to transmit and/or receive vast amount of information such as e-mails, browsing the WWW (World Wide Web), documents, calls, and many more.

In real world, the concept of internet is much more complex than what we described here.

If you want your computer or laptop to connect to the Internet, you must have Internet Access. You will get this access only if you have an Internet Connection. Who gives this connection? Your ISP or Internet Service Provider.

What is an ISP? Did you ever use a landline telephone connection in your home? You need an account with the telephone company in order to make or receive calls. An ISP is a similar entity, but for Internet Access.

Internet Service Provider or simply the ISP is a company that allows you to connect to the Internet. For this, you need to have an account with the ISP. After that, depending on the type of Internet Connection your ISP uses, they will provide all the cabling and other equipment at your premises so that you can log in with your credentials and start using the Internet.

Types of Internet Connections

So, what are the different types of Internet Connections? Here is a list of some of the popular types of Internet Connections.

  • Dial-up Internet
  • ISDN
  • DSL
  • Cable Internet
  • Fiber
  • Satellite
  • Cellular Broadband (Mobile)
  • Fixed Wireless
  • Power-line Internet

Let us now see briefly about all these types of Internet Connections.

1. Dial-up Internet

If you had an internet connection in the late 80’s or early 90’s then it was probably a Dial-up Internet Access. It uses the conventional telephone lines to provide the internet connection.

In order to establish the Internet Connection with the ISP (the telephone company), the computer needs to dial a number (similar to a traditional telephone number). You need a special device, known as the Modem, to convert the digital data from the computer to analog data (some form of audio signals) in order to transmit over the telephone lines.

The Modem also receives the analog data from the ISP and converts it to digital data for the computer.

An important thing to know about dial-up Internet is that you can use either the telephone or the modem at a time. Once the connection is established after dialing the number, if you try to make a phone call, then the modem doesn’t work and you won’t have internet access.

Dial-up is slow with internet speeds in the range of 28Kbps to 56Kbps. It is also a cheap solution as it uses existing infrastructure to provide internet connection. Despite its drawback, dial-up internet is the only way to get internet connection in some remote places.


Integrated Service Digital Network or ISDN is the earlier version of broadband internet. It uses the Public Switched Telephone Network to transmit both voice and digital data.

While dial-up is the most popular type on internet connection in the U.S., ISDN became widespread in France, Germany, UK, Japan, India, and other parts of Europe.

Basic internet speed with ISDN-BRI channel was around 64Kbps. By bonding two of these channels together means you could theoretically get up to 128 Kbps internet speed.

ISDN-PRI (Primary Rate ISDN) is a combination of 23 ISDN-BRI channels. So, the internet speed for this type was 1.5Mbps.

Also Read: What is Fiber Optics Broadband?

3. DSL

Another popular Internet connection that provides internet access through existing telephone network is DSL or Digital Subscriber Line. The main advantage of DSL is that you can simultaneously use both the telephone as well as the modem for internet connection.

DSL replaced the dial-up and ISDN connection types all over the World. DSL uses two different sets of frequencies to transmit digital data and analog audio over the same telephone lines.

For regular telephone call, it uses the standard audible frequencies. But to transmit digital data, it uses much higher frequencies. The telephone company will install a special type of filtering device at your house to separate both these signals.

There are two types of DSL Connections: ADSL and SDSL. ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. In this type, the speeds (or data throughput) in downstream (from the ISP to your Modem) is significantly higher than the upstream (from your Modem to ISP).

SDSL, as you might have guessed, stands for Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line. In this type of Internet Connection, both the upstream and downstream speeds are identical. ADSL is far more popular than SDSL.

In a basic ADSL connection, you could get internet speeds anywhere between 256Kbps to 20Mbps (depending on your plan).

Later, high speed standards came into effect and with these the internet speeds moved to 52 Mbps and 100 Mbps.

4. Cable Internet

While all the previous types of internet connection that we mentioned uses telephone lines, the next one uses TV Cable network to provide internet access. It is still a very popular type of internet connection even with faster fiber connections becoming cheaper.

Just like DSL needs a special mode, even the cable internet needs a Cable Modem to translate the digital and analog signals. The DOCSIS standard is responsible for directing the usage of cable bandwidth. It also specifies the theoretical speeds that the cable broadband can transmit.

For instance, with DOCSIS 3.0, you could get maximum downstream speeds up to 1Gbps and maximum upstream speeds up to 200 Mbps. But with the latest DOCSIS 3.1 version, the downstream increased 10 times to 10 Gbps while the upstream also increased to 1 – 2 Gbps.

5. Fiber

Perhaps the most popular type on internet connection in several urban location (and slowly spreading to rural places well) is the Fiber Internet Connection. If you opt for a fiber connection from your ISP to your home, then it is known as Fiber to the Home (FTTH).

As the name suggests, Fiber Inter Connection uses Optical Fibers instead of traditional copper wires. As a result, the data rates in this type of connection can be significantly higher.

Unlike DSL and Cable Internet Connection, fiber internet connection isn’t associated with a telephone company or a cable service. They are separate ISPs that provide only Internet Connectivity. Although, some ISPs bundle a telephone connection with the FTTH without any additional infrastructure.

6. Satellite

The first Wireless Broadband in the list is Satellite Internet Connection. There is no cable or fiber running from the ISP. In a Satellite Internet Connection, all you need is an antenna and a Modem (or similar networking device).

Install the antenna in the right location and direction. Connect the antenna to the Modem. That’s it. You can access internet from the modem.

Satellite Internet Connection isn’t a mainstream internet connection, at least in urban settings. It is popular in very rural areas, where there are no telephone or cable infrastructure.

Some popular Satellite ISPs are AT&T, Dish Network, Globalstar, Starlink and OneWeb. Downstream internet speeds in a typical satellite internet connection can be in the range of 2 Kbps to 1 Gbps. Upstream speeds are significantly less in the range of 2 Kbps to 10 Mbps.

The main problem with Satellite Internet connection is that you need a clear line of sight path between the antenna and the satellite. If there are any obstacles such as clouds or rain, your connection will be interrupted.

7. Cellular Broadband (Mobile)

There are two types of Cellular Broadband Internet Connections. The first one is a Mobile Connection. In this system, the user gets a tiny and portable modem that connects to the cellular network (3G or LTE – 4G).

You can connect this modem to your computer or laptop using an USB Connection or in modern modems using Wi-Fi. This type of internet is similar to what we use in our mobile phones.

8. Fixed Wireless

The second type of cellular broadband internet connection is Fixed Wireless. In Fixed Wireless, the ISP installs a special wireless equipment that connects to existing cellular networks and also provides wireless connectivity to the customer.

This type of internet connection is very popular in rural areas, where there is cellular connectivity but no cable or telephone option.

9. Power-line Internet

Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) or Powe-Line Internet is a special type of internet connection that uses electrical power cables to carry the internet data. Interesting, right.

This type of internet connection is more popular in Europe due to the infrastructure (the number of transformers and also their size is a key factor).

Also Read: How To Fix Slow Frontier Internet?


It is very difficult to imagine the World without internet. Whether you want to video call your loved ones who are in another city or want to research something for your exams, we need Internet.

In this guide, we saw the basics of the Internet, some important terms associated with the Internet. After that, we saw different types of Internet Connections.

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