If you’re researching wireless internet providers, you’ve probably come across a lot of unfamiliar words and acronyms. You’re not alone. Telecommunications is a pretty dense subject. It’s difficult to assess what everything means.
This article goes into more detail about the specs you can expect to read about with various wireless internet providers.
Wireless internet terms and definitions
Broadband DSL (digital subscriber line)
- Broadband DSL uses a souped-up line that can handle voice and data simultaneously on the same line. The data is on the same line, but uses a frequency that’s undetectable to the human ear. You get a dedicated line to a central hub, but everyone shares the circuit that the hub uses. Also, the further out you are from the central hub, the weaker your signal.
- Cable is shared among a “block” of users. Broadband cable providers like to settle in areas with apartments so they can cover a small portion on the map but get a lot of customers. Cable is oversubscribed by a ratio of 100:1. It’s like selling one ticket to 100 different people.
Bandwidth, latency and speed
- Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data you can send over a network.
- Latency is the amount of time it takes data to move across a network.
- Speed is determined by both bandwidth and latency.
- Real world example: Bandwidth is the speed limit on the highway, latency is the restrictions (traffic, construction, etc.), and speed is how fast the car was actually able to travel given those obstacles.
Wireless internet: bits and bytes
You’ve inevitably come across abbreviations like K, Kbps, Mbps, etc. These stand for bits and bytes, and different sizes of both depending on their prefix. When it’s a computer file, bytes refer to file size. When it’s bandwidth, bytes refer to speed.
- B is for Byte, which is unit of storage that your computer uses to store information such as a word. “Cat” has three characters and therefore 3 Bytes of storage
- 1 Byte (1B) = 8 bits (8b)
- Files such as software programs, digital photos, and audio files (for MP3 players) are measured in Bytes. Internet speed is measured in bits per second.
When researching internet speeds, the approximate standard you can expect is:
- 10 Mbps download, 1Mbps upload – (around $30)
- 15 Mbps download, 1Mbps upload – (around $40)
- 30 Mbps download, 5 Mbps upload – (around $50)
- 50 Mbps download, 5 Mbps upload – (around $100)
However, because bandwidth is often shared, unless you go with the preferred provider on this site for cities like wireless internet District of Columbia, the actual speed you’ll get will be significantly less.
Wireless internet providers in your area
With wireless internet providers for laptops, you can get the solid connection you’ve been looking for. Enter your zip code on this site to learn more about wireless internet service in your area.