RT Cunningham


Wireless Internet vs. Wired Internet (Cable, DSL, Dial-up)

ethernet cable - wired Internet When trying to decide what kind of Internet service you should have, as opposed to what you already have, you have some things to consider. These things are probably more important if you’re obtaining service for the first time.

You have a few choices to make depending on where you live and the service quality available. Wireless vs. wired Internet is just one of the things you need to consider.

As I explain some of these things, I’ll touch on something called “Voice over Internet Protocol” (VoIP), a technology used for long distance phone services as well as Internet communication providers.

Wired Internet

Wired Internet includes services provided by dial-up, digital subscriber line (DSL) and cable. Other terms come to mind like T1, T3, OC3 and fiber optics, but the average consumer has no interest in these terms.

Despite the advances in dial-up modem technology, dial-up Internet services will never match any of the broadband or high-speed offerings. The last time I checked, they weren’t any cheaper either. Unfortunately, dial-up Internet is still the only kind of service available in some rural locations.

DSL (or any variation of it) is better than dial-up and in some cases, like my own in the Philippines, the best Internet service available. The problem with DSL is the further you get away from the “company office” (or “central office”, whichever you prefer), the worse the connection gets. This has been mitigated somewhat by replacing main lines with fiber optic cables and by using signal repeaters.

Cable Internet is what I consider the best residential option available, if it’s available in your area. While you can have signal disruptions with cable just as you can with the other options, they don’t seem to happen nearly as often or for as long a period as the others. I experience daily disruptions with DSL and the people I know who have cable Internet do not. Take that for what it’s worth.

Wireless Internet

Wireless Internet is catching on in popularity. It consists of receiving a signal from a cell tower to a receiving modem at your computer. Wi-Fi is another form of wireless Internet where a Wi-Fi router is used to redistribute a signal from either a wired or a wireless connection.

The problem with wireless Internet is not the signal, which can be as strong as DSL or cable, but things like the weather and “line of sight”. Near line of sight reception seems to be almost as good as direct line of sight, but degrades quickly when other factors are involved.

Depending on the place, things like trees and rain can have a serious impact on wireless signal quality. This is something that wired Internet isn’t normally affected by unless someone didn’t install cables and lines in the right places and seal them properly.


VoIP is the technology that instant messengers use for voice communications. Communications providers such as Skype, magicJack, Vonage, Yahoo, etc. all use a form of VoIP — different implementations of the same basic technology. In some locations, VoIP is better than standard telephone service.

What a lot of people fail to realize is that one or more legs of their long distance telephone calls, whether by land line or by mobile phone, may be using VoIP technology. The telltale sign is when you hear a kind of “springing” sound (which is a modem sound) while waiting for a long distance call to connect.

Investigate All Options

When you’re looking for the best Internet service that money can buy, it’s in your best interest to ignore the hype and investigate all the options available in your area. More expensive is not always better.

Options to consider include upstream speed along with downstream speed, price per month, what any extras may cost, integration with existing packages like cable TV and even customer service reports.

I’ve found that I like using wired combined with a Wi-Fi router. Wi-Fi receivers, if not already included in a desktop PC, are inexpensive. Most, if not all, laptops have a wireless card already installed when you buy them. Even routers with powerline adapters are better options than fixed locations.

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By RT Cunningham
January 6, 2014