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How Cable Internet Works Video Transcript: A cable Internet provider sends Internet data over the same lines that bring you your cable TV. They’re called coaxial cables. One coaxial cable can carry 750 to 100 megahertz of data. It takes each cable TV channel about six megahertz to operate. That leaves plenty of space for hundreds of channels – and lots of Internet bandwidth. A cable Internet signal takes up about the same amount of space as a TV channel for both downstream data (data that comes to your computer from the Internet)  and upstream data (things you upload like posts to social media, or files sent to email recipients). To use your cable TV network for high-speed Internet, you need a cable modem and a cable modem termination system. The termination system stays at your Internet provider’s headquarters. In between – there’s that coaxial cable we mentioned before, that carries your TV channels and high-speed Internet data. National cable operators set up several hubs to connect neighborhoods. The coaxial cable system splits available bandwidth evenly among subscribers at any given time. To prevent users from taking more than their share, operators can impose data limits. Need more bandwidth to game, stream and more in your home? Cable Internet providers offer higher pricing tiers to give you access to more Internet speed. Under optimal conditions, when fewer users are on the network, cable Internet speeds can reach as much as 100 megabites per second! Users will find far less speed during high-traffic hours, though. Cable Internet operators can sometimes use a partially-fiber-optic network, from the control center to distribution points near a neighborhood. They then use copper wires for that final mile, to the subscriber. Often a cable carrier will offer phone services in a bundle, too. Usually, the more services you sign up for from a provider, the more you save on individual services if you bought them separately. Whether you’re a cable TV subscriber or want to be one, you have an option for high-speed Internet – without a lot of equipment to add!


Nation’s Capital Leads Way for U.S. Internet Speed

There isn’t much about Washington DC traffic that’s fast. Internet speed in DC, though? That’s apparently wide open, compared to what you can expect on the Capital Beltway. A recent study of Internet speed in the U.S. reveals the capital as the nation’s fastest, for the second straight quarter. For this study, cloud services provider Akamai treats DC as a state. The District of Columbia has now displaced Ohio as the fastest state, as reported for Q1 2016.

Akamai measures Internet connectivity and security over the course of the study. Data collected includes states with the most widespread access to speeds of at least 10Mbps. The study also examines max and average speeds in 10 countries. In Q1 2016, Delaware, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Utah round out the top five for Internet speed. States with the slowest Internet include Mississippi, Alaska, Idaho, Kentucky and Ohio. The difference can be significant; Delaware’s average speed clocks in at three times as fast as Ohio’s. Fortunately, Internet speeds in America have been on the rise since Q4 in 2014, so Ohio and company could get a speed upgrade in the near future. Other tidbits from the findings:
  • Eastern seaboard states (and DC) comprise eight of the top ten states for speed. They include Delaware, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, New York, and Virginia. Utah (#5) and Washington (#10) were the only western states in the top ten.
  • Southern states didn’t appear on the list until #25 Tennessee.

States with the most growth

By far, the District of Columbia saw the biggest bump in average speed from Q1 in 2015 to 2016, with a 48% increase. DC residents get an average of 24Mbps, nearly 3Mbps higher than second-place Delaware. Virginia, the ninth-fastest state, saw a negligible drop of 1.8% to 18Mbps in the same period. Speed increased year-over-year for all states and DC. That should surprise no one; Fiber and other gigabit Internet offerings are springing up all over the nation, from metro areas to small towns. Two notable initiatives:
  • NYC | In Q4 2015, New York City converted payphone stands to Wi-Fi hotspots in a private-public arrangement. The hotspots reached speeds of 300Mbps during beta testing.
  • Holland, Michigan | The town built its first fiber network twenty years ago. Today, it delivers free gigabit Internet in phase one of a pilot program to serve the whole town.

What else can we learn?

Internet speed is on the rise, domestically and globally. It’s not an increase in the fastest speeds available; it’s also the percentage of Internet customers who have the fastest available speeds. Internet penetration creates an environment in which the standard rises for acceptable Internet speed. Also, with speed spikes approaching gigabyte Internet, more homes and businesses operate in a reality in which broadband strength can support many devices – and many data-heavy activities – at once. Effect of increasing speeds and bandwidth
  • SMART HOMES/24-7 CONNECTED HOMES | Smart homes come equipped with agents of the Internet of Things, from app-controlled thermostats to smart TVs and smart appliances. A higher average broadband speed will lend itself to more forms of connectivity.
  • STREAMING SERVICES/ON DEMAND MOVIES | As average broadband speed increases, streaming service companies can offer more robust entertainment options, such as Netflix’s foray into Ultra-HD streaming.
  • ADVERTISING | Online advertisers can include more data-rich content in online ads when viewers have the speed and bandwidth to support it. Advertisers could introduce more video-driven ad content – without causing page loads to stall – if speed thresholds continue to rise. Advertisers can make ads more interactive, personalized and engaging – but only if doing so doesn’t make the page load take ages. When pages take a long time to load, people bail on them. Advertisers don’t get impressions or click-throughs.

How fast is fast?

Internet service providers measure speed in Mbps – megabits per second. One megabit equals one billion bits of data. Speed’s determined by the number of megabits your connection can transmit in one second. More Internet speed doesn’t always equate to faster page loads, though. Much depends on the remote server’s connection. Your home network speed won’t be able to speed up what the remote server is capable of; it’s on another host. Higher speed tiers don’t necessarily guarantee smoother streaming. However, more speed can deliver higher quality settings and enhanced streaming. How much speed do you need for common media-rich activities? STREAMING MUSIC: 1.5Mbps | It’s the lowest for music streaming services, such as Pandora or Spotify. You’ll need more for tunes with video … STREAMING MUSIC WITH VIDEO: 3Mbps | Why just listen to The Romantics’ Talking in Your Sleep when you can watch the video, too? This speed will support standard quality videos. Now, if you like your videos in HD … STREAMING MUSIC WITH HD VIDEO: 4-5Mbps | Going HD with Gary Numan’s Cars or anything by Adele? You’ll need greater broadband strength to avoid buffering delays. STREAMING A MOVIE: 5Mbps| Catch Bewitched (the movie or TV series) with only a modest speed upgrade. (Note: streaming is more efficient than downloading an entire movie.) GAMING ONLINE: 5-8Mbps | Ping rate is just as crucial as speed for gamers. Ping refers to the reaction time of your connection. It’s a critical factor in determining whether your mad skills are enough to win. Check ping rate on a connection through any of several online tests, such as this one. Why the need for speed, when media-rich activity doesn’t appear to need much of it? Homes with more than one user on multiple devices need more broadband strength to support it all. For a single user, there’s minimal strain on the connection. What if one user streams a movie while two more conduct a fantasy football draft in real time? And what if another person hops on Facebook? You need to find a high-speed Internet provider and the right speed tier to keep up.

How can I test my Internet speed?

As with sites to test ping rate, plenty of places exist to check in on Internet speed. (Google has one.) A test measures how much data can travel through your connection in a finite timeframe. It tests for both download and upload speed. It also measures latency, or time it takes to receive a response from the server. Latency's measured in milliseconds. Low latency is best for gaming, videoconferencing and other high-data activity. No matter which state you live in, Internet speed matters. How much you’ll need depends on how you use it.



Find the Best Deals on the High-Speed Internet

Mobile & Wi-Fi

Fastest Wireless Internet: What is available in my area?

When it comes to Internet, we all want the same thing: speed. When picking an Internet provider, it is important to understand what speeds and options are available in your area. How do I find the fastest Internet in my area? Depending on where you live, only certain types of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) might be available. Satellite Internet works better in more rural areas, while larger cities are laying the groundwork for fiber Internet to become available. If you are asking yourself, “what is the fastest Internet in my area?” there are a few ways to find out. One useful tool is the Netflix ISP Speed Index. Since Netflix takes up a large portion of Internet bandwidth, they have a vested interest in having high speed providers around to keep their streaming strong. Which is why they publish an ISP speed Index for your viewing pleasure. You can also check on video quality and streaming speeds with a useful tool from Google here. What types of Internet options are available? Some of the fastest Internet providers have different options. What you should choose depends on your household needs and budget. Cable Cable Internet is available in most urban areas, but is dependent on location and if the coaxial cables used to carry Internet are available in your neighborhood. These cables connect to your modem to provide an Internet connection. Cable speeds usually run between 512Kbps to 20Mbps. DSL DSL is another type of broadband Internet connection. Instead of cable lines, DSL uses existing phone lines to connect subscribers to the Internet. DSL and cable speeds are usually similar and both are dependent on location, so you get faster Internet the closer you are to your phone company. Satellite Satellite Internet is most convenient for those living in rural areas since cable lines don’t always reach that far. Satellite Internet connects via a satellite dish attached to your home and signals are sent through satellites orbiting the earth. While satellite does provide fast speeds and more TV options than some cable companies, it is typically more expensive than cable and DSL. Looking for the fastest Internet speed? Fiber wins. While cable, DSL and satellite can offer high speeds, fiber is the clear winner in providing the fastest Internet in the U.S. But it is also the most expensive. Fiber lines are still being laid all across the U.S. and is not widely available yet. Fiber Internet uses optical cables to transmit data via light signals. Fiber Internet connections are much faster than a cable or DSL connection. When looking for the fastest Internet connection it is important to research what is in your area. Many ISPs also have different speed tiers depending on what plan you purchase



Benefits of DSL and DSL Bonding

When DSL hit the scene, it was the hottest thing since sliced bread. That’s because it meant you no longer had to wait for lame dial-up or worry about getting kicked off of AOL Instant messenger if your mom picked up the phone. DSL, or Digital Subscriber Line, uses phone lines to bring you the Internet. That means you can talk on the phone even if you’re logged onto the Internet because DSL splits your phone line into two signals. When you talk on the phone, your connection is transmitted at a lower frequency than the data coming to you from your Internet Service Provider, thus allowing both frequencies to coexist on the copper line that carries these signals. While DSL is relatively fast and reliable, some people prefer to utilize bonded DSL to get an even faster connection without paying a lot for Internet service. What is bonded DSL? Bonded DSL means that two or more broadband connections are bonded, or grouped together, to create a faster connection. DSL providers basically speed up your Internet by sending those data signals we mentioned earlier over multiple phone lines rather than just one. It is a fairly easy addition to your DSL service since most homes already have multiple phone lines that can be utilized to create a bonded DSL line. Broadband bonding is a great way to increase both your upload and download speeds without paying more for your Internet service. What are the benefits of broadband bonding? Speed: Bonded DSL means faster Internet speeds. For businesses this is a great benefit, especially if you are using a lot of bandwidth for file sharing, VoIP and video conferencing. Location: DSL is a widely available service, thus making it easy to transition into broadband bonding for faster service. It is an easy way to speed up your connection if you are in an area where fiber is not yet available. Reliability: Combining multiple lines creates greater Internet reliability and the assurance that even if one line were to go down you would still be connected. Price: Getting bonded DSL is a cost effective alternative to fiber Internet. If you are considering getting bonded DSL, it is important to make sure your router allows for multiple lines. Talk to your Internet Service Provider to see if they offer bonded DSL and what router would be best for the transition.



And now a history lesson: Early Internet Providers

It’s hard to imagine a world without the Internet. But, my friends, that world did exist at one point. Let us travel back in time to the year 1957. The Soviet Union has just launched Sputnik into space and Americans are starting to freak out. We decide to get really serious about math, science and technology. Organizations like the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) are born. Through scientists at M.I.T. and ARPA, the idea of a “galactic network” took shape, eventually becoming what is known as ARPANET - the earliest network connection. It was basically a way for scientists to send messages to each other. As ARPANET grew, it started adding universities and research centers to its network. By the 80s, it had gone worldwide. Still, it was only being used by really smart people in the halls of universities and governments. Then 1989 happened. The year of Taylor Swift’s birth, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the debut of the Game Boy. This was also the year the first commercial Internet provider, “The World,” hit the scene. While versions of the Internet had been around previously, it was only used by government agencies and universities. The National Science Foundation (NSF) kept a strict ban on commercial Internet service providers (ISPs) so when The World went live there were plenty of government organizations and universities that attempted to block or shut down the connection. Finally though, the NSF quit being such a hater and lifted their ban, thus opening the floodgates for early Internet providers to come on the scene. The first providers brought you incredibly slow dial-up, but at the time it was revolutionary. And it paved the way for the general public to have access to the Internet for the first time. Early Internet providers included The Source and CompuServe. CompuServe was one of the first providers to offer chat options and email to their customers. They grew into a major player in the 80s and early 90s, but then America Online (“AOL” to you 90s kids) came on the scene. AOL eventually grew so much that they acquired CompuServe and later on NetScape. In 2000, AOL had finally risen to the top of the Internet food chain. They had become the nation’s largest Internet provider. They ultimately merged with Time Warner, but there’s no denying the impact the company has had on the growth of the Internet. From dial-up to DSL and now fiber, early Internet providers and pioneers couldn’t have imagined what the Internet would look like today.


Mobile & Wi-Fi

Help! My Internet Speed is Slow

Slow Internet speed got you down? We can relate. Nothing is worse than watching your favorite show on Netflix only to have it freeze up. Not to mention, if you’re actually trying to get work done, a slow Internet speed can throw a huge wrench in your productivity. But seriously, why is your Internet speed slow and what can you do? Valid questions, my friend. The first step is to check your speed. If you already know what speed your plan offers, the next step is to test it. You can do that at If the speed test finds that your speed does match what you are paying for, then you could consider looking into an Internet plan with more speed. If the speed test reveals you are paying for high speed Internet but it’s not running up to par, there are some ways to fix that. Slow Internet and hardware issues Sometimes the trick to fixing slow internet speed is as simple as resetting your modem and router. All you have to do is turn them off and turn them back on. You can also check other web-enabled devices in your home to see if they are all experiencing the same problem. If not, it could be an issue with the computer and not the Internet connection. Lifehacker has some cool steps to help you troubleshoot any possible hardware issues. Is your signal making your wireless Internet slow? Check your signal. Repositioning your router can help. Placing it in a location where the signal won’t be disrupted by walls or furniture, or having it in a central location in your house helps with signal strength. Make sure no one is stealing your Wi-Fi by using a WPA password. You can also switch your router between two signal frequencies (2.4GHz and 5GHz) if one of them is less crowded than the other. My download speed is slow, still. Ok, so you’ve tried the speed test, resetting your modem and fixing your password and things still aren’t working out. It’s time to optimize your browser and call your Internet service provider (ISP). While you’re waiting on the line for a customer service rep, you can switch your browser to HTML on the sites you are using. Calling your ISP can also help you determine if the problem is on their end or if it is your hardware or speed-tier. Location, pricing and equipment all factor into creating optimal Internet speeds. It’s important to check all three when determining what issues you may be dealing with. Almost as important as getting Neflix back up and running again.



How to Fix Limited or No Connectivity to Internet

Having trouble with limited connectivity? Maybe you’ll have just enough connectivity to find this post. You might see the warning pop up from your system tray as you attempt to connect to the Internet. You’ve seen the yellow triangle with an exclamation point inside. It signals a problem with the dynamic allocation of IP addresses. Limited or No Connectivity or No Internet Access means the same thing: You can’t get online. The likely culprit: A non-responsive DHCP server. DHCP stands for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. A DHCP server assigns an IP address to a computer. The IP address identifies your computer as it communicates with the Internet at large. If a DHCP can’t carry out its function, a computer will assign itself an invalid IP address. What’s the solution if you’re faced with limited Internet access because the DHCP malfunctions?

Limited access: Internet connection solutions you can try

It’s easy to investigate when you have limited Internet access from a DHCP server error. Try these steps:


  • Right click Internet connections icon in the lower right of the computer screen
  • Click repair or troubleshoot problems
This will review and reconnect your connection. If it doesn’t work, try disabling and enabling your Internet connection.


  • Right click Internet connections icon in the lower right of the computer screen
  • Open Network Connections
  • Right click the appropriate icon to disable either local or wireless Internet connection
  • Click again to enable
This will reset whichever connection you’ve used, and reestablish it. If that doesn’t work, perhaps try to release and renew your IP address.


  • Click Start menu
  • Select run command
  • Type cmd and enter
  • In the black configuration box that pops up, type ipconfig /all
  • The IP address will show as
  • After the C:\ prompt for documents and settings, type ipconfig /release (be sure there's a space between ipconfig and /release)
  • The all-zeroes IP address will release
  • After the C:\ prompt for documents and settings, type ipconfig /renew (remember the space)
  • This will renew your IP address with one with values, not zeroes

Network layer problems

Issues with the network layer can also cause limited Internet access. That’s the third level in the OSI Model, or Open Systems Interconnection Model. Routing paths for Internet data live at this level. IT staff can best remedy a network layer problem. If this occurs on a home network, consult your ISP’s customer care line.


No Phone Line Required for Dry Loop DSL

DSL Internet service without an associated phone line is Dry loop DSL. It's also known as naked DSL. Dry loop DSL gives those who’ve forgone their home landline an opportunity for high-speed Internet. DSL, or digital subscriber line, shares phone line to deliver an Internet signal. Dry loop DSL establishes a line for Internet only. Dry loop DSL subscribers can access VoIP phone services through their Internet provider. Many dry loop DSL subscribers depend on a mobile phone as a home phone anyway.

Advantages of dry loop DSL

Quick installation

Here’s where the standalone part comes in. There are no interruptions to home phone service to install dry loop DSL. Also, a technician might find damaged copper lines during regular DSL installation. Those repairs would cause an interruption of your phone service as it’s serviced.

Uncomplicated wiring

Conventional DSL networks have many jacks and filters. Internet and telephone data travel on the same copper lines. Filters help keep them separate and free of interference from each other. Dry loop DSL wiring transmits Internet data only.

No disconnect if you change phone carriers

A switch in providers (or late monthly payment) might result in an interruption in service. With conventional DSL, that’ll also mean an interruption in Internet service. A dry loop DSL service operates independent of your phone carrier in every way. Other advantages: A dry loop DSL connection travels on clean copper wiring. It hasn’t served your phone service before. Customers can select a provider independent of other home services. Dry loop DSL isn’t subject to interference from fax machines and DVRs might cause.

Why is it difficult to find dry loop DSL advertised?

Home service providers offer bundles for Internet and TV or home phone – or both. These carriers offer discounts for bundling, with features that integrate features across services. Some features, such as on-screen Caller ID, aren’t possible with dry loop DSL because it’s not connected to TV service.


Wireless Internet for Laptops: Which One Works Best?

We’re not bound to the PC in the middle of the house anymore. Wireless Internet, in public or at home, means freedom to connect on mobile devices, too. Smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles can connect to the same Internet signal. Subscribers need only plug in a router to establish Wi-Fi from their home Internet network. Perhaps the greatest of these devices: The laptop. For work-from-home, blogging, browsing and more, a laptop includes a full keyboard. It provides a bigger screen than the average device (except for the largest tablet screens). Laptop users have options when it comes to how they connect.

Mobile hotspots

A mobile hotspot brings your Internet provider virtually anywhere. It’s your mobile network; no need to rely on municipal Wi-Fi to connect. Connect through your mobile phone carrier. Go-anywhere Internet can hook you up on the 4G LTE network. That’s super-fast. Typical units can connect as many as eight devices. They’re lightweight (3 ounces or less) and the size of a pack of chewing gum. It’s especially useful when traveling; your Wi-Fi source travels, too. Plus, it’s a reliable backup for your laptop if your home Internet goes down. The downfall: It’s doesn’t take long to eat up your mobile data allowance while browsing on the road.

What’s the best laptop Internet service?

Fast, dependable broadband Wi-Fi will work on most mobile devices. In the house, you’re golden. In places away from home, the ability to connect to a secure network becomes less certain. Don't depend on public Wi-Fi or a friend’s network. Public Wi-Fi carries its own security issues; it’s not safe to bank or shop online on a public network. Cellular phone providers offer USB devices, or air cards, for network access. Connect mobile devices, such as laptops. Internet service through hotspots can often count against a data cap. Certain plans included unlimited data. Access to these cellular networks can come on 3G and 4G networks. The G stands for generation. 3G and 4G are the two recent generations of cell-phone network coverage. 3G was the first network fast enough to create an environment that made smartphones a viable for Internet access. Service providers also offer plans that include wireless Internet for laptops. Those plans often come with a carrier’s upper tiers of speed packages. Check system requirements with the Internet provider. Your laptop might need an upgrade to meet system requirements.