Internet Connections: Understanding Your Options For Getting Online


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Do we need different Internet connections for our many different devices? Image by AdamVandenberg

Accessing the Internet is critical for many people today. Checking emails, updating social accounts, and doing research for work or school are all important parts of daily life – but how do we actually connect to the World Wide Web?

There are different ways to connect to the internet, including Wi-Fi, mobile Internet and broadband. Each of these services offers benefits and downsides, and are suitable for different needs, occasions and people.

Broadband Connection Direct to the Computer

For those with stationary workstations, particularly in an office setting, direct contact to a broadband connection is common. In this case, the Internet connection runs through a company called an Internet Service Provider or ISP. The Internet connection comes through the ISP to the modulator-demodulator or modem – the box that connects to the cables for the Internet connection – and your computer is connected directly to the modem, or to a network that connects to the modem.

You cannot move the computer around and remain connected with this form of Internet. However, a wired broadband connection is often high-speed access, so can be a faster connection. On the other hand, direct connection to the modem severely limits the number of computers able to access the service.

Broadband Through Wireless Connections

For those who want to move around the home or have other computers to connect to the network, you can also add wireless connections to your broadband connection. Wireless access, also referred to as Wi-Fi,  works through a router, which connects directly to the modem. To save time, many broadband companies are now offering modems with routers built into them for instant wireless connectivity.

The router works by allowing communication through networks and allows more than one computer to access the same network at the same time. The connection is still direct to your broadband provider, but the router enables sharing around a network. Routers often have extra protection with firewalls, and allow you to set passwords to prevent other people from accessing your network and piggybacking on your Internet connection.

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