If you read about the history of the Internet, you would have known the network itself started assembling in 1983. However, the Internet only started taking a recognizable shape in 1990, when the World Wide Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee. Three decades have passed since then, obviously. In that period, the technology advanced so significantly that kids born 10 years ago cannot grasp the concept of a beeping old modem that took quite a while to connect. Even more mind-boggling is the fact that the standard speed used to be 56 kbit/s. Nowadays, some residences have a 1 Gbit/s connection at home. Curious to read more? Here are the different types of the Internet and how they came to be.
Different Types of Internet
So, we are going to have a look at some of the most common types of internet that people use to get connected each other. Have a look at them.
Dial-up Internet became commercially available in the 1990s. During that time, customers could purchase a modem from their telephone service providers. The most common form was the so-called 56K modem, due to its maximum speed of 56 kbit/s. A limitation of dial-up Internet was that the Internet couldn’t be used whenever someone used a telephone, and vice versa. This is because the two services shared a single telephone line. For anyone who lived through that time, one of the memories must be yelling at their family who talked on the phone while you wanted to use the Internet.
Additionally, users needed to log in and out using details given by the telephone companies. They were also automatically disconnected after some time, allowing for a fair share of then-limited resources. And, although this might sound weird, dial-up is still in use in 2020. That’s because it requires only a telephone line, which is handy for remote places and third-world countries where the Internet is rarely present or non-existent.
A DLS (Digital Subscriber Line) broadband Internet came after dial-up. Among users, it was better known as ADSL (Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line) because it had been the most commonly DSL technology installed. It functioned the same as dial-up – through a telephone network. But, because of technology advancements and a DSL filter (or splitter), the Internet operated in a spectrum above the band of regular telephone calls. This removed the most annoying feature of dial-up Internet – being unable to send and receive voice calls and the Internet simultaneously.
DSL also significantly increased the download and upload speed. Commercially, an ADSL downstream (or download) speed was between 256 Kbit/s and around 100 Mbit/s, although that maximum was rarely seen. Speeds of about 6 Mbit/s to 8 Mbit/s were the most common. During that time, LAN networks started to gain popularity, allowing users to connect a modem to a router, connecting multiple computers in their home to the same Internet network.
The next advancement in the field was cable Internet access, which remains the most commonly used form of the Internet in 2020. It combined existing DSL telephone networks and cable television infrastructure to bring the best of both worlds. They supplied the Internet from a cable modem termination system (CMTS) at the provider’s premises, through kilometers-long underground cables, and finally separate coaxial cables to the customers’ modem and/or router.
Through technology advancements and efficiency management, customers were offered download speeds as high as 1 Gbit/s. Upload speeds were in the range of 384 Kbit/s to 50 Mbit/s, but both types are “capped” by the provider, and sorted into various subscription plans. The limitation of cable Internet is the primary cable itself. This is because they were designed with a certain maximum bandwidth of data in mind and often can’t sustain a rapid expansion of users. For that reason, users notice their Internet speeds are significantly slower during peak times.
Wireless LAN or WLAN is becoming more and more common in residential homes because of smart devices such as smartphones, tablets, and virtual assistant devices. For home use, customers receive a full-fledged cable or ADSL wired routers or modems. However, those devices can also send and receive data wirelessly on two frequencies, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. If you ever see the term “dual-band”, this refers to the device’s ability to use both bands. The main difference between the two bands is their speed and range. 2.4 GHz supports maximum speeds between 450 Mbps and 600 Mbps.
It transmits data over longer ranges and is a better choice for obstacles such as solid objects or thicker walls. A downside is that other wireless devices such as baby monitors, wireless locks, garage door openers often also operate through a 2.4 GHz band. This can lead to congestion and a loss in performance. 5 GHz, on the other hand, has a maximum speed of up to 1300 Mbps and reduces the risk of congestion, but is limited in range. There are also wireless standards (for example, 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11ac) that limit the maximum speed of a particular device. For 5 GHz transmission, the range can be increased by mesh Wi-Fi systems and range extenders.
For those places that rely on dial-up Internet or places where an Internet connection cannot be achieved, satellite Internet might be the only choice. The downside – it requires a substantial investment. This is because you must purchase or rent a satellite dish at the location, to send or receive data. Furthermore, the number of providers is much lower. The speeds aren’t known to be fast either. Generally, those are between 12 Mbps and 100 Mbps, but most likely on the lower end.
Have you heard about the 5G controversy and conspiracy theories? It is an advanced version of widely used cellular networks, 3G and 4G. They require a SIM card, and for the mobile phone service provider to have enabled the service on your account. You don’t need any additional gear – it’s all built into the smartphone, tablet, or hotspot devices. If you aren’t aware of hotspots, here’s a short answer. It a term used when a 3G, 4G, or 5G Internet is shared in the form of a wireless network to anyone in the vicinity.
7. Fiber Optic
Instead of copper, thin glass wires are used to transmit data, and because light signals travel rapidly, this reduces latency. Although speed might be affected by the bouncing of light, it is still mind-numbingly fast. Providers offer speeds of around 1 Gbit/s for commercial use. It is also more reliable because it requires no electricity. Fiber optics can also be operated without a loss over greater distances than cable or DSL Internet. Unfortunately, the fiber-optic Internet can’t compete with cable Internet in terms of availability and is more expensive in most cases.