There are a variety of options in today’s marketplace when it comes to choosing Internet service. When picking a provider it’s important to consider whether you live in a rural or urban area, how many people are in your household, and what speeds you need to keep everyone connected. Some of the most common Internet services include: Broadband, wireless, DSL, satellite and fiber-optic Internet. Each service comes with different types of Internet equipment to ensure you have a quality connection.
DSL, cable and wireless services use modems to connect. If you live in a rural area you will typically need a satellite and router to get Internet and TV services. Location determines the type of Internet equipment households need to connect.
Let’s take a look at the different Internet equipment options.
Modems are an essential piece of Internet equipment because they connect you to the Internet. If you have DSL or dial-up Internet your modem connects to telephone lines, while cable Internet uses coaxial cable to access the Internet. Modems take analog waves and convert them to digital so your computer can connect you to the web for streaming, gaming and surfing.
Wireless routers work with a modem as part of a wireless network infrastructure. Routers take information via the modem and deliver it to your computer or wireless device. The best part is, a router allows multiple devices to connect to the Internet at once. Check out our recommendations for the best routers in the market on our wireless equipment page.
While most homes use a Wi-Fi network to connect, Ethernet cables can speed up your connection. Ethernet cables are the most common type of Internet cables and can help home or office computers have a faster and more stable connection to the web. Ethernet cables connect routers to the modem via the WAN port located on the modem. Need one? Our staff did the research for you – our recommendation is below.
Top Choice: Mediabridge Cat5e Ethernet Cable (Amazon)
Those who choose satellite Internet will need more Internet equipment than those with other types of Internet connections. In order to connect a home to satellite Internet and TV services, the satellite provider will install a satellite dish. This dish will then connect to its satellite in space which delivers the TV programming and Internet connection. Want to learn more about satellite dishes? Check out our satellite equipment page.
Using Internet cables, like an Ethernet cord, can help speed up your connection. They are designed to connect your computer to a router. This helps the Internet connection to be faster and more stable. There are two basic types of Ethernet cables: solid and stranded.
Solid Ethernet cables typically are used on business networks, since they offer somewhat better performance and protect against any type of electrical interferences. Stranded Ethernet cables are the type of Internet cables most used in home networks, even though they are less durable than solid cables.
While Ethernet cables can be a good option, most home and business networks now primarily use Wi-Fi technology. Wi-Fi provides network connectivity through the use of radio waves. A wireless adaptor creates hotspots where you can connect to the Internet on compatible devices.
Modems are standard with any type of broadband Internet service because they are the device that connects you to the Internet. Routers work with a high speed Internet modem to connect your computer. Depending on the modem that comes with your service, a router is sometimes built into it. Some providers let you rent a modem, but you still have to purchase the router. Depending on what service you choose, be sure to check for what Internet equipment you need.
If your home only has one stationary device, like a PC, you likely won’t need a wireless router. But if your household has multiple and/or mobile devices and Internet users, a wireless router is the best option. Routers let you connect all the devices in your home —that means you can stream your favorite playlist on Spotify while looking up your next vacation destination on your laptop.
Which service is right for you?
DSL service providers connect your computer to the Internet via a modem and phone line. With a DSL modem you can access the Internet and also talk on the phone. Internet providers also have plans and pricing options depending on price and speed.
Cable modems transmit data via cable lines, but because you share your connection with your neighbors, speeds can vary throughout the day, depending on network traffic. Cable speeds are generally faster than DSL and dial-up, especially if you live in a larger city.