How to Choose a Broadband
   Internet Provider p.2

      Windweaver Internet Training Articles
      copyright 2006 by Tracy Marks


Continued from page one

Before you contact broadband suppliers, you may wish to familiarize yourself with the difference between cable and dsl services. Both are likely to provide similar Internet speeds (cable is usually capable of a higher speed than basic dsl, but other factors may limit the speed you actually experience.)

If you choose a cable modem provider, your bandwidth will be shared with everyone in the neighborhood who is using the Internet at the same time, which means that your internet connection may be slower than dsl can provide, albeit much faster than a 56k dialup connection.

High speed cable internet connections differ in upload and download capabilities. Your upload (sending, also known as upstream) will be much slower than your downloads (receiving, also known as downstream), which is only likely to be problematic if you do large online backups daily or frequently send enormous files. For most people, cable modem services are more than adequate.

DSL, also known as digital subscriber lines, utilizes the telephone wires for transmission (but does not interfere with your phone use) rather than cable lines. DSL however is only likely to be available in urban areas, as you must live within 3-5 miles of a DSL center for DSL broadband to be accessible.

Most home users able to use dsl services usually opt for ADSL (asymmetrical) rather than the most expensive SDSL which serves business.


You will need either a cable modem or dsl modem, and also a network (ethernet) card. If your computer is less than three years old, you probably already have a network card, and may not need to purchase one yourself or from your broadband supplier.

Note however that if you have a home network connecting several computers, your ethernet card may already be in use, and you  may need to either purchase and install a second one, or better yet, get a router modem hub.


As you collect information about each broadband supplier, you will want to find out:

1. What kind of high speed access does the company provide? Are they primarily cable modem providers or do they also offer dsl services which are available to you at your location?

2.What speed do they guarantee? With cable service, expect 1 – 6 mbps (megabytes per second) for downstream, and 128 – 768 kbps (kilobytes per second) for upstream.

3. What are basic requirements for your computer?

4. What kind of equipment do you need?

5. Do they provide email software or web-based email or must you rely entirely on your own email program, such as Outlook or Eudora?

6. Do they provide spam filtering (as well as virus protection) for your email, or are you dependent upon your own spam filtering?

7.How much storage space do you get for your email?

8. What kind of security and privacy do they guarantee?

9. What technical work needs to be done at your location, and how soon can it be scheduled? Cable providers can get you up and running in less than an hour at one sitting, but DSL may require work on your phone lines and later installation of your DSL modem if you cannot do self-installation.

10. If you travel frequently and need Internet access from your laptop when on the road, do they offer limited dial-up access for a low additional fee?

11. Do they offer a wireless plan (of particular interest to laptop and notebook computer users, who seek Internet access when away from home)

12. How available is their technical support?


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