How-to choose broadband Internet…
Broadband enables you to download more at once, and faster—putting the Internet's vast knowledge and entertainment value to your full use! Broadband is often called "high-speed" Internet, as compared to traditional 'dial-up' access using a modem and telephone connection (or 'GPRS' on your cellphone).
Wireless broadband technologies are collectively known as "3G" (third generation) services, but do not yet provide quite the same level of performance as wired services. Wireless broadband is available with compatible phones (and with a laptop via Bluetooth or a data cable), USB sticks and expansion cards for independent use with laptops, and standalone modem/routers for fixed use at home.
HSPA (or HSDPA)
Available on UMTS cellular networks such as AT&T (Cingular) and T-Mobile.
Available on on CDMA cellular networks such as Sprint (Nextel), Verizon, and Virgin.
Available in few areas, but coverage is expanding. If not quite as good as wired services, it is better than traditional cellular services and WiFi. Providers include Clearwire (many towns), CLEAR (Atlanta, Las Vegas, Portland), Xanadoo (IL, OK, TX), XOHM (Baltimore), Zing (Detroit), Razzolink (Monterey), BridgeMAXX (ID, IN, MT), and AT&T (Alaska).
Available through public 'hotspot' operators with connection points in popular places such as airports, malls and public spaces. These have variable bandwidth, and connection is not usually automatic. Providers include AT&T, T-Mobile, Boingo, iPass and Fon.
Broadband is available for both fixed and mobile use via wired or wireless connections. For fixed connections to your home or office click here.
With a broadband connection you can access telephone services through cheaper internet-telephone (VOIP) providers like Skype instead of your expensive cellular provider, this facility may however be blocked by some cellular providers.
Internet access is offered as either unlimited or download-restricted plans, if you wish to watch or download video or make online telephone calls you should ensure you choose an unlimited plan. Cellular plans usually have download-restrictions, and WiFi plans usually have time restrictions.
How is broadband 'speed' measured?
- Bandwidth—this can be equated with the size of a pipe. A broadband 'pipe' has a much larger 'diameter' and thus more capacity. The larger the bandwidth the faster a large file can download. Transmission capacity is measured in kilobits/megabits per second (Kbps/Mbps), not to be confused with disk storage (for files) which is measured in kilobytes/megabytes (KB/MB).
- Latency—this can be equated with the length of a pipe. A shorter pipe means the time taken for communication along the connection is less, and thus makes a short low-latency connection snappier and more responsive. It is measured in milliseconds and is therefore generally only important and noticable for live video and audio conversations, or live gaming. Latency is often compared with 'ping' times between you and a specific server. Wireless connections tend to have higher latency.